Letter to the Editor | Summer School Inequalities

'According to the California Department of Education, over 20% of SPUSD students are socioeconomically disadvantaged'

Letters to the Editor | SouthPasadenan.com News

General Public Comment; SPUSD Board Meeting, April 13, 2021

The South Pasadena Education Foundation is near and dear to this community, and rightfully so. But SPEF has been stubborn in its refusal to keep free public education free, and it must correct course.

SPEF’s tuition-based for-credit summer school program constitutes an illegal and immoral partnership with SPUSD. Its privatized curriculum awarding credit toward South Pasadena High School graduation violates California’s constitutional free public school guarantee. It provides economically stratified access to public education. The current summer school structure sets up a two-tiered caste system in which students who can afford summer school have an advantage in college readiness and competitiveness, and students who cannot and may or may not secure a summer school education elsewhere, have a disadvantage. In a liberal community where parents take pride in sending their kids to public school, this is a bad look indeed.

- Advertisement -

According to the California Department of Education, over 20% of SPUSD students are socioeconomically disadvantaged. The steep price to enroll in SPEF summer school classes is no doubt out of reach for many students, even with available partial scholarships.

SPUSD must cease its legal contortions and yield to moral and constitutional truths. SPEF summer school credit gives an exclusive academic leg up in a pay-to-play end run that puts a stain on both the District and our community’s favorite nonprofit.

In South Pasadena, poverty is disproportionately higher among people of color. According to census data, 6.6% of white South Pasadena residents are below the poverty line, compared to 8.1% of Latinx, 9.3% of African-American, 10.1% of Asian, and 10.3% of some other race. That’s 1,426 people of color likely to be excluded from a summer school that charges tuition.

In our city, when we deny access or grant privilege on the basis of income, we do the same on the basis of race. Charging tuition for for-credit courses runs contrary to the District’s public commitment to identify and eliminate racial disparities and foster an inclusive environment in all its programs.

We have made a public records request for racial and ethnic data for all SPEF summer school students receiving SPHS credit. We ask for the utmost transparency in providing this documentation, redacted for student privacy and delivered promptly. We also ask that you come to the table with a variety of stakeholders, some of whom may, armed with the facts and legal framework, agree that there is a more equitable way to structure summer school in South Pasadena.


Anne Bagasao

Ella Hushagen

John Srebalus

Helen Tran






Editorial Disclaimer

The South Pasadenan News welcomes letters to the editor and Op-Ed reports on a wide variety of subjects from all points of view. The letters may or may not be published editor’s discretion. All letters must be signed. Letters published do not necessarily reflect the views of The South Pasadenan News, its Publisher, its staff or its advertisers.

External Website Hyperlink Disclaimer

The SouthPasadenan.com News provides thousands of online stories and advertisements. Editors and or submitted content will sometimes provide hyperlinks to external websites for the convenience and clarity for our readers. The South Pasadenan News does not control any of the content of these external websites, and does not assume and is not responsible for any liability whatsoever for the linking to any of these linked external websites. Hyperlinks to external sites by The South Pasadenan News should not be considered an endorsement of submitted content, the external sites and/or their operators, nor is it an endorsement or guarantee of any of the information provided on these sites. Questions related to information found on linked external sites is for informational purposes, and it’s up to the reader to do their own research on any given topic.

The South Pasadena News does its best to be useful and accurate with the information we have. If there is an inaccuracy or error, email us: Media@SouthPasadenan.com.  If you have a different opinion than what was published, submit a letter to the editor.