The cost to a low-income family of having one child in high school band

According to my once-per-week housekeeper, Gloria — the single mother of one bright and hard-working kid who loves the clarinet and plays one in his high school marching band — during her son’s first year in the band she incurred these expenses:

  • 1 clarinet:                                           $2500
  • 1 band trip to Florida:                       $1000
  • 1 uniform (rental per annum):           $250
  • weekly clarinet lessons @ $16 ea     $512
  • TOTAL                                               $4262

Some school districts pay these expenses, but hers in Garland, Texas does not. And she can’t afford suitable housing in one of the fancier school districts.  She springs for these expenses, however, even though they exceed 20% of her annual income, because raising her son well is her principal objective and her kid would rather be in the band than go to the movies. That’s all she needed to know. (Studies show that participating in high school band is predictive of success in college and in life.)

Gloria is divorced and does not attend church regularly, though, things which certain conservative writers have pointed to as signs that people of lower income suffer from “moral depravity.” (See, e.g., here, here, and here.)  

Does Gloria seem morally depraved to you? Because she seems heroic to me. 


About Guy N. Texas

Guy N. Texas is the pen name of a lawyer living in Dallas, who is now a liberal. He was once conservative, but this word has so morphed in meaning that he can no longer call himself that in good conscience. Guy has no political aspirations. He speaks only for himself.
This entry was posted in Government social programs, Income inequality, Politics, Poverty, Voting. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The cost to a low-income family of having one child in high school band

  1. vance wittie says:

    Being in the band was one of the most valuable parts of my high school education. I would hate to think that the experience is growing out of reach for low or middle income students. Seems like the trend is to require students and their families to shoulder more of the expense for extra-curriculars of all sorts. My neices in California have all participated in their school’s acclaimed drama program. I was shocked to learn that this program receives very little budgetary support.

  2. hortonw says:

    And those expenses don’t include the fabled and dreaded “band camp.”

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