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Should public schools play host to private summer school courses?




Private schools are offering summer courses that are transferable to public schools for a fee. Critics say that the courses should be offered free of charge if applicable to public school curriculum.
Private schools are offering summer courses that are transferable to public schools for a fee. Critics say that the courses should be offered free of charge if applicable to public school curriculum.
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Across Southern California, public school districts are coping with cuts to summer school funding.

While LAUSD has received some money for summer courses this year for the first time since 2009, many districts have lost huge sums of money usually intended for summer classes.

In LAUSD, students can only take courses if they are making up a failed credit -- in wealthier districts, which receive less money per student, even failed course funds have been cut, and the state pays only for courses for special needs students and English Language Learners.

To compensate for cuts to these programs, many districts are offering private courses run by outside groups on public campuses. District teachers use the same curriculum, textbooks, and classrooms for private courses.

Students who enroll pay hundreds of dollars per course, with the option to make up classes, enrich their course load to prepare for college, or explore a niche interest.

Proponents of these private programs, which offer public school credit, say that they are filling a void for summer education, and that both students and teachers benefit. They argue that charging a fee is not tantamount to exclusion.

Critics say the programs should be free, and that by charging money for summer school, even in wealthy districts, schools are excluding low-income students and contributing to education inequality.

How should schools deal with cuts to summer school funding? Is there a way to make supplemental programs more accessible?

Guests:

Ellen Multari, President of the La Canada School District Governing Board

Rebecca Joseph, Ph.D, Associate Professor, Curriculum and Instruction at CSU LA