Here’s a quick arithmetic question for you: does two equal zero?
Apparently, The Prince William County School system thinks it does.
In Article VIII, Section 1 of the Virginia Constitution it states:
The General Assembly shall provide for a system of free public elementary and secondary schools for all children of school age throughout the Commonwealth, and shall seek to ensure that an educational program of high quality is established and continually maintained.
Just to make sure here, let’s check on the meaning of “free:”
Free, adjective, adverb
without cost or payment.
“ladies were admitted free”
synonyms: without charge, free of charge, for nothing; complimentary, gratis; informal for free, on the house
From thus, we can reasonably determine that this section of the Virginia Constitution requires that a public education in Prince William County’s elementary or secondary schools be provided without any requirement for payments from parents or students, making the cost of a K-12 education in the Commonwealth equal to zero. Given this legal requirement, perhaps PWCS can explain the following, which I am told comes with a threat to the elementary school children who received the following that if they don’t bring in money to hand over to the school they will be “punished” by being made to sit in a library by themselves while their peers who brought in the demanded payment receive their full dosage of a constitutionally-mandated “free” education:
So in this school, deemed a “Title 1″ school by reason of a high proportion of economically-disadvantaged students, a “free” education actually costs money, and thus in the view of Prince William County Schools zero equals two. Regardless of the degree to which this constitutionally-mandated “free” education is not actually “free,” or the suspect justifications that can be anticipated to explain away this arithmetic and legal error, it certainly doesn’t bode well as a demonstration of the value we’re getting for the millions of dollars the school system annually ladles out to Pearson Education for a math curriculum we can’t entirely adopt because of the program’s obvious shortcomings.
It really shouldn’t be all that hard for anyone to understand that demanding money from kids, in any amount, for a “free education” just isn’t the right thing to do. This is not a legal or proper way to deal with tight school budgets. If this is somehow not part of a “free” education but some optional ancillary program, it might be something worth considering devoting school time to only after their less than impressive 73% pass rate in mathematics receives enough attention to bring it up to at least the average performance of other schools in the Commonwealth.
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