HolyCoast: The Entitlement Mentality Hits High School Activities

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Entitlement Mentality Hits High School Activities

When my kids were at Mission Viejo High School they participated in a number of music activities including Marching Band, Jazz Band, and several trips - all of which required us to pay what were known as "fair share" fees to help cover the costs not included in the school budget.  I think at the point where both kids were there at the same time it was costing us about $650 per kid for Marching Band, $125 per kid for the district's bus fee, $100 for Jazz Band, plus other costs associated with trips they took. The fees were mandatory and we were glad to pay them because our kids got so much benefit from the music program.

My youngest graduated in 2009 and got out of there just in time, because thanks to the ACLU and some parents who are members of the entitlement class, schools can no longer mandate those fees for participating in extracurricular programs. While I'm sure the ACLU thinks it's done a noble thing by ensuring that nobody can be excluded from these activities, the law of unintended consequences doesn't care about ACLU nobility.

Instead of allowing a few kids to fully participate the lawsuit has guaranteed that all kids will have a diminished experience, missing opportunities they would have had under the old rules, and creating unnecessary tension within the ranks of parents and kids.

Although I don't know how this has affected the programs at Mission, my niece attends another Orange County high school as a member of the color guard and this change has devastated their program. The school set the fee at $900 per semester for color guard (guard is usually more expensive than other programs because of uniforms and instructors), and because if could not be mandated they had to hope parents would recognize the value and agree to participate. So, what happened at this high school in an upper middle class-to upper class area?

During both the marching season and the winter guard season something like 40% of the parents never paid a single dime for their kid's participation. Not. A. Dime. While parents like my sister paid the full fee these deadbeat parents kicked in absolutely nothing.

I mean it's one thing if a parent says "I can't afford the entire $900, but I can pay half of it" or something like that. They didn't. They paid nothing, and the school actually asked the parents that paid if they could kick in more to make up the shortfall (my sister had the same reaction I would have had - FORGET IT!).

And in nearly every case the freeloading parents never participated in booster activities, working at the events, or other things they could have done to help.  Not only were they useless, they were actually dragging the program down.

As a result the school had to cut back the hours the instructors worked, lost their annual Disneyland trip, and had to cut back on the number of competitions they attended. They weren't able to buy new costumes for winter guard and every student's experience was diminished thanks to the freeloaders.

If I were the coach, and of course they know who paid and who didn't, any of those girls returning to the program next year whose parents didn't contribute wouldn't have a chance of making the team. Since it requires an audition and not everyone is guaranteed a place, I think the coach could get away with something like that. I wouldn't even hesitate to keep someone off the team, especially if I know enough about their financial situation to assume they could have contributed.

This is just one small example of what happens as the entitlement mentality seeps through our culture. We've either got to change it or our society will collapse.

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