School tuition cost EC

The flaws of paid summer school

As we all spend over six hours at school for five consecutive days a week, it’s become obvious that education plays a major role from both a societal and individual’s perspective. In fact, education has been emphasized as a necessity in our lives. 

In a society that values education, it only makes sense that “free, quality education” should be available to all students. In fact, as time goes on, more public schools are built across the United States, offering free education to students from kindergarten through senior year in high school. 

Although the modern-day public education system does follow the basic principles of free education, it has become increasingly evident that money plays a significant role in the quality of education students receive. In other words, education can be free, but a quality level of education that offers students various pathways and job opportunities for the future seems to follow more of a pay-to-win oriented system.

Summer school at Walnut is divided into three separate programs: Walnut Valley Unified School District (WVUSD), Mount San Antonio College (Mt. Sac) and Dedicated to Learning. All three programs offer the student body a variety of courses, in which students are given the ability to complete them within a six-week period. This not only allows students to quickly complete required courses within a short period of time, but also helps them to enroll in more classes overall throughout their high school career. However, the WVUSD and Mt. Sac programs are free of charge, whereas Dedicated to Learning requires funding via student-paid tuition.

The problem with the summer school system is that students that are involved in the non-tuition programs are strictly limited to regular classes, whereas students who are involved in the Dedicated to Learning program pay the $400 to $600 tuition fee to be enrolled in honor classes. Additionally, students who pay the tuition fee are exposed to a wider range of courses, while students that do not pay are confined to very few options.

It doesn’t help that Walnut High School runs on a six-period schedule, in which zero period is generally reserved for students that specifically participate in a school sport, involved in orchestra, or are enrolled in the IB program. This consequently means that most students, with the exception of those in IB, cannot enroll in an additional academic period to compensate for not taking the class. Thus, students that pay the tuition fee are able to enroll in more academic classes overall than students that do not attend summer school.

This creates a massive chasm between affluent and low-income families. Not only do students that pay the tuition get to participate in a higher-leveled honors class, but it also gives them a wider variety of classes as well. Essentially, students are paying money to take additional courses in their high school career, which consequently creates a situation in which students with more money are put at a major advantage over students that may not be as privileged. Ultimately, these advantages outweigh the compensations that non-tuition programs offer, which overall raises the conviction that education is free, but quality education is not.

I’m not trying to say education without paid-for summer school isn’t quality-level. In fact, students can still complete their required courses and still enroll in advanced classes without signing up via Dedicated to Learning. However, students that pay the tuition fee to enter high-leveled classes over the summer are more likely to receive a better education than those that don’t. It isn’t fair that students can access higher-leveled education by simply throwing in a couple hundred dollars.

Ideally, in the twenty-first century, we should focus on giving every student the same educational opportunities, to pursue one’s interests throughout their school career. But when factors such as tuitions, which impose unfair advantages over some students, are implemented into the educational system, what we get is an impediment to what would be considered as “free, quality education.”


By Andrew Kim, Feature editor
Editorial cartoon by Daniela Marquez