Organized class-wide costly outings

I would appreciate some thoughts whether the below is common and any advice as to how to navigate to the extent possible with the the limitations of not being the organizer of the outings so having little control over it.  I have a child in public school with a large but very close knit class with many playdates occurring and many parents involved in the school.  We have an outing coming up to a fun and kid friendly location, but with a costly admission fee.  The outing is outside of school hours and is organized by parents but the whole class is invited. It is not a birthday party, so each family is expected to pay for themselves.  We love the idea of the outing, are comfortable with the cost, and know that a large portion of the class is going (and we are going as well), but I found out that a few of the kids cannot make it because of cost.  PTA cannot help because it is not school sponsored event.  They said it is unfortunate, but it is effectively a playdate on a weekend to which some kids are going (it is majority of class, but not all) and it is up to the organizers and school cannot appear to sponsor it.  Organizers cannot help since the location is selected and there is nothing anyone can do about the cost as it is everyone pays for themselves event.  Besides trying to ensure that the next outing is in a park and we at least alternate between expensive outings and free/cheap ones, I'm curious if anyone's class is equally close and parents organize those type of outings, and how students' families' different ability to afford outings is being handled?    

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My kids aren't in elementary yet, so take my advice with a grain of salt! Honestly I'm kind of appalled at the organizers for being so insensitive to the different economic realities of kids in your class. For this situation, can you quietly organize a group of parents to each donate enough to cover the kids who can't afford it? Or maybe someone can organize a general pot of money that can be used towards covering some kids or at least reducing the cost for all such events? And I would, as diplomatically as possible, speak to the organizers of these events to suggest less expensive outings in the future. Maybe offer to organize one of them yourself so it doesn't look like you're trying to micromanage.  

Granted, my kids are older now, so maybe this is just an example of changing Bay Area demographics.  But it seems to me that, while your class may be "very close knit," whoever organized an expensive class-wide playdate knowing there are kids from homes with very limited means was not wearing their sensitive hat.  There are a lot of alternatives that wouldn't have resulted in those few kids being excluded.  If it's really important to them that the whole class be able to participate, some of the wealthy parents could pay for everyone by arranging it with the venue to buy tickets ahead of time, for example.  If I were you, I wouldn't just try to "at least alternate between expensive outings and free/cheap ones," I'd suggest that everything outside of school hours that's meant for the whole class be cheap or free.  Leave the expensive outings for smaller groups of close friends who can afford it, where the few kids who can't attend for financial reasons wouldn't be stand out.  

I teach and see this a very problematic. These parents are setting up a situation where the students who can afford to go will be talking about the outing the week after, and the less well-off students are going to feel excluded. It is like with a birthday party -- either everyone should be invited and it should be an event everyone can afford, or it should be on a smaller scale where only a few children/families get together. If you look at this from a larger-picture viewpoint, this is one of the ways children's sense of their relationship to inequality gets reinforced.

Wow.  I am surprised that any group or class outing would be "costly" as you put it, and that it would be considered normal or ok, whether or not some parents are super comfortable with it.  It is the parents who are so comfortable with the cost who create inequities, embarrassments and even judgments between the kids based on who can handle  "costly" things and those kids that cannot.

We have attended private school, as well as public school in quite privileged areas, and we found the public school setting to be less inclusive on a lot of levels. Folks seem to need to show how expensive outings/trips/outfits/remodels are easily handled in public school, at least in our experience.

Please consider being a voice for outings that don't cost much.  This kind of "close knit" behavior can become exclusionary over the years.

Or, worst case scenario perhaps there could be a special outing once a school year that is fully subsidized for all kids (and this means all the kids, not just some) by a couple well-connected parents who just want to do it.  

Disappointed to read this post and be reminded of class-ism.

I was a grad student when my kids were in Berkeley public elementary school and we had NO money. This never came up for us thank goodness, and the school was very sensitive to not sponsoring ANY outings that cost even a dollar. But if it had come up, it would have made me feel really terrible for my kids. There is no way we could have afforded a trip to Great America or Santa Cruz or whatever.  It would have been very embarrassing for me if another wealthier parent had offered to cover my kid's admission fee. Or worse if a group of parents took up a collection for me. There goes my dignity. Please, parents, don't put other parents in this position.

Wow: this is an incredibly clear demonstration of privilege in action, and how economic class distinctions get started. It's appalling that the organizers did this, and I have doubts that a group of adults in the Bay Area could be collectively so oblivious. Further, it's pretty disingenuous of the organizers to claim they can't do anything to help. They could change the location - presumably they still have contact info for all involved; they could personally pay for the kids who can't attend since they are the ones who decided to mark and exclude the children with less economic means; they could ask the families who can't afford to send their kids how much they can afford, and ask the group to subsidize the rest of the entry fee; they could own up to their initial callousness and cancel the whole event as a first step towards making amends. I know you said you didn't organize this and I respect your recognition of the problem. However, you and the other parents who care are also not helpless in this situation: you could organize an event for your kids and the kids who were excluded. 

I feel this really personally though, because this would be my kid left out.  

To answer the other part of this, no, I have never heard of a public school class organizing pay-your-own-way full-class outings.