Assembly Bill 1575 jeopardizes speech and debate seasons

Credit%3A+Carrie+Coonan%2FThe+Foothill+Dragon+Press

Credit: Carrie Coonan/The Foothill Dragon Press

Ela Yasa

The combination of Assembly Bill 1575 and increasing district regulations for school fundraisers is jeopardizing the speech and debate team’s current and future seasons.

To raise funds to offset an increasing deficit, speech and debate created an Indiegogo campaign with a goal of $2,000, for which $2,021 has been raised.

“The money from Indiegogo will not only help with the rest of this year, but I’d like to save a bit for next year,” said speech and debate advisor Jennifer Kindred.

“We will probably use it to help pay entry fees for the state tournament and save some to go toward Stanford next year.”

The law has caused increasing problems for the team throughout the year.

AB1575 is a law passed by the state of California which is meant to reinforce what the constitution of California says, which is a free and public education,” speech and debate president and senior Ben Limpich said.

“It’s meant to give teeth to the enforcement of the ‘free’ part of the California constitution.”

Under this law, all extracurriculars are also considered a part of free education. This means that extracurriculars are no longer able to charge fees for any trips or activities; they must ask for donations instead.

For the speech and debate team, this means that the school cannot charge fees for the trips to tournaments.

 

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The speech and debate team does not posses a budget and only earns money from their own fundraisers and an annual stipend from Parent Faculty Student Organization (PFSO).

This year, they could not do their car wash fundraiser because of the drought, and their PFSO stipend was cut by 500 dollars.

These factors, combined with the inability to ask for tournament fees, are putting speech and debate in a significant deficit.

“The more that kids don’t donate- we still incur those fees- and so then it just starts shrinking, and shrinking, and shrinking,” Kindred said.

“I like to have a little surplus just as a cushion, for kids who can’t afford to pay. And then that just started disappearing.”

If enough funds aren’t raised for the speech and debate team, they will have to limit or even cancel their tournaments.

Previous speech and debate coach Anthony Villa explained how this would be a significant problem for the team.

“This is a problem because the more chances the team has to compete, the more they learn. Limiting the number of tournaments could also limit the educational opportunity of the members of the team.”

“Also, because a lot the tournaments involve a split between speech and debate, cutting the number of tournaments could further slash the diversity of exposure to speech events.”

AB1575 was implemented to make sure that students who could not pay the fees for the trips could still go to them and not be excluded.

Limpich explained that this issue was already being solved before the bill.

“The thing that isn’t stated in the law, is the vast majority of programs, including speech and debate, whenever there was a kid who couldn’t afford to pay, they would go to the advisor and say ‘I can’t afford to do this’ and things would always be worked out,” Limpich said.

“The problem came in when kids who could afford it started to not pay it.”

Kindred explained that AB1575 was not only affecting speech and debate, but also a vast majority of other programs.

“I think it’s unfair to a lot of programs. We’re focused on speech and debate because that’s what we do. But there have been a lot of programs that are affected by AB1575,” Kindred said.

“So I don’t want this to sound like speech and debate is crying ‘O woe is me!’ because there’s a lot of people that are in the same boat.”

Kindred said that the larger problem was the lack of educational funding.

“The problem is not AB1575. AB1575 is making us follow our constitution which says ‘A free public education for all’, including extracurricular activities. However, the state of California should be funding all of these programs,” she said.

“I think the state of California, in passing AB1575 and then setting us all adrift to figuring it out is quite irresponsible. They should be following it up with some cash that says ‘Yes, we really do believe in a free, public education for all students.’”

Speech and debate members and advisors expressed their gratitude to the school for supporting them.

“We are exceptionally grateful for the support that we have received from the school and from PFSO. PFSO has been an undying champion of the speech and debate team,” Kindred said.

Kindred explained her gratitude for the support of the Indiegogo fundraiser and community.

“Mr. Bova, in particular, this year went looking for money to help us out. I really think this shows how valuable the program is to the school. We also are really grateful to our parents, our grandparents, our alumni, who have all donated money.”

Limpich expressed his gratefulness for the positive difference between the Foothill speech and debate team and other teams.

“Some speech and debate teams in, say LA County, don’t get any support at all from the school. But we have a very incredibly supportive community of both the administration and students and the alumni,” Limpich said.

“We really could not function without it. It’s what saved us.”

Background Photo Credit: Carrie Coonan/The Foothill Dragon Press

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