Class divisions over school trip

Can a school class go on a study trip costing 9,100 crowns per pupil? Or should everyone be forced to stay at home because some parents don't have the means to pay?

According to Dagens Nyheter, that’s the moral conundrum facing the National Agency for Education following anonymous complaints from parents of children in Class N7 at Solna’s Hagalund School. The class was due to visit Florida’s Cape Canaveral in November but a number of parents have said that they can’t afford the trip – which was proposed over a year ago – and that the whole thing should be called off.

“Why did they have to send the letter to the Agency now?” wondered Bengt Gustavsson, chairman of the parents’ association organising the trip. “If parents had doubts, couldn’t they have raised them earlier?”

DN made the point that the combination of “pressure from the parents’ association and the shame of being forced to tell everyone else that they didn’t have the means to pay” might be one reason, while another might be that “as the trip gets closer, people’s financial situation becomes clearer.”

But that cut no ice with Gustavsson.

“If they had started saving 300 crowns a month after the first parents’ meeting, they’d have got together enough money by now,” he grumbled, no doubt fearing the wrath of his own cherub should the trip be cancelled.

Now it’s up to the Agency for Education, and it all hangs on whether the trip is connected with school work or not.

“If this is educational, then 9,100 crowns is far too expensive,” said the Agency’s Marie-Hélène Ahnborg.

To that the parents responded that it’s not the school which is organising the trip but the parents’ association, so therefore it’s not educational. But before you could say ‘touché’ DN pointed out that in that case, the trip shouldn’t be in school time – which it is.

So it was time for the parents to wheel out the emotional big guns – the children themselves.

“We’d be so disappointed if this trip didn’t go ahead,” said Klara Lynn. “We’ve struggled for a year and a half.”

Another pupil, Nadja Niskanen, provided graphic details of the struggle: “We’ve sold roses, chocolates and bingo tickets. We’ve baked buns, held flea markets and collected cans for recycling.”

Meanwhile, children in Stockholm may have been forced to resort to similar methods – to pay their parking fines.

Monday’s Stockholm City reported that over 4,000 kids in Sweden are the registered owners of their parents’ cars, and owe a total of 5.3 million crowns to the Tax Enforcement Administration. 138 children in Stockholm alone have accumulated parking tickets worth 1.4 million crowns.

But later this year a law will be proposed which prevents children from being held reponsible for their parents’ motoring misdemeanours. If a child is registered as the owner of a car, an adult user must also be listed.

“The adult will be liable for the charges instead of the registered owner,” explained Patrik Örnsved at the justice department. “And we will ask them why a ten-year old child is the owner of a car.”