Field Trips are a major part of the educational experience. Study after study shows that broadening a student’s experience keeps them engaged and on a path to be a lifelong learner.
The State of California Education Code even specifies that a student will be counted as present at school while on a field trip. Field trips come in all forms from going to Sea World, 4th Grade Mission Trips, 6th Grade Camp, 8th Grade visit to your future high school and eating in their cafeteria, to sports trips for regional finals, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or the Rose Parade in Pasadena, because the school band is awesome or taking your sports team to Hawaii to compete.
These experiences are priceless for many students as this, in many instances, is the first time a student as left their city or been on a plane.
However, the importance of these field trips on the educational experience still take a backseat to priority funding, so the burden once again is placed on the parents. The State has worked to put safeguards in place to protect students and families. Yet, school districts still distance themselves from their ultimate responsibility of providing the Public Education.
When schools relinquish their responsibility to entities who have no understanding of the responsibility of serving California Public Education – Students and Families are ultimately hurt.
Did you know:
State law requires anyone who sells travel packages, with transportation by sea or air, to register with the Attorney General’s Office. They must also maintain a bond or trust account to protect passengers from loss, and refund passengers’ money within three days if it not held in a trust account and within 30 days if the trip is canceled.
The California Code of Regulations prohibits teachers from accepting any compensation above and beyond their regular compensation for the performance of their required duties in the course of their employment. While going on the trips may not be a required duty, most school district policies require a teacher or district employee to be present with students during school trips.
This is not a new issue.
The San Diego Union Tribute reported on the subject of Travel Companies in December 2011
“Now I understand why they were so pushy,” said Maria Siorvia, whose daughter attends the School of Creative and Performing Arts Middle School, which has canceled its eighth-grade trip. Siorvia said teachers didn’t inform them of the incentives they could receive for doing the trip. “It does raise questions,” said Bret Burnett, the co-owner of Apple Tours & Travel of El Cajon. “Teachers have to realize that companies aren’t just going to give these incentives away for free. Somewhere along the line, someone is paying for these bonuses, and it’s likely the students.”
The issue came up again in the San Diego Union Tribune in November 2017 when a "travel company" did not fulfill it's obligations for travel services to students
Bradley Matheson met with a high school band director at a conference in Chicago and offered to arrange a school band trip to Japan through his company. In January 2016, Matheson provided a brochure to prospective travelers, explaining the trip details. He also appeared via Skype during an informational meeting for parents. The weeklong trip was supposed to run from July 11 to July 18. The cost was $3,687 per person, which could be paid in installments. In April, the Mathesons sent an email to parents telling them that the trip was canceled. The following month, their attorney told parents at a school meeting that the company had filed bankruptcy and could not refund their money.
Before making voluntary donations for field trips:
Make sure your school board has approved the field trip, including the cost required for all students to go on the trip.
Make sure the organization handling travel is licensed by the State of California to handle these services: https://oag.ca.gov/travel
If you do want to support the school and the trip, make sure the payments are made to the School or the entity designated by the school like the booster or Foundation and get a receipt for your donation.