The high cost of free public education

Free public education in Quebec is anything but, as I learned to my shock when we moved back here from Pennsylvania. My expenses so far this year:
• $404 on tuition for two kids in junior high school. That doesn’t include $500 a year on a Mac laptop (which I HAVE to buy because one of my kids is in Westwood’s enriched program; after three years, it’s ours for $1).
• School supplies cost me approximately $300 more ($100 x 3 kids), plus $20 for phys ed shirts, $15 in tissue boxes, disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer which elementary teachers insist each child bring in. Not to mention the lunch daycare fee for my child who is still in elementary) of $320.
• Total so far: $1559. I say so far because I am expecting throughout the school year to keep writing cheques for field trips, school art projects, even a photocopying fee (last year each parent had to pay $50 to offset the cost of teachers having to photocopy worksheets and tests!)
I’m not even factoring in other recurring costs like new backpacks, lunch bags, re-usable water bottles, pencil cases and ‘indoor’ shoes.
In Pennsylvania, I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I sent my children to school with an empty backpack. Everything, even brand new pencils, Crayola crayons and glue sticks, books and paper were waiting for each child.
Most days I didn’t even pack a lunch. Instead I’d give them $1.60 for a daily choice of three hot full-course meals, including milk and healthy dessert almost entirely subsidized by the government. It was cheaper than making/packing them lunch!

The Hudson St-Lazare Gazette, September 7th, 2011, Julie Cadieux

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