Rich school, poor school

The “Rich School, Poor School” debate continues on an alternative San Fransico news website. Responding to a recent article in the New York Times about “Million-dollar PTAs” (see previous post), Dana Woldow writes in BeyondChron:

Can parents really pick up the slack in public education funding, and should they have to?

Traditionally, PTAs have been more about family enrichment programs than raising money. The National PTA says it “provides parents and families with a powerful voice to speak on behalf of every child while providing the best tools for parents to help their children be successful students.” Among the programs PTAs at various SF elementary schools sponsor are back to school events, new family welcome events, speakers on topics like bullying or appropriate ways to help children with schoolwork, community-building events like school beautification, a school wide math or science or literacy night, or a talent show or musical performance.

PTAs are supposed to follow a “three to one” rule for fundraising – hold three non fundraising programs for every fundraising event. Fundraisers might include a raffle, a silent auction, or a “thon” – walkathon, readathon, spellathon. Some schools also send out a cash appeal letter asking parents to just write a check. Each of these efforts drive more revenue than the old fashioned bake sale or car wash fundraising of 20 or 30 years ago.

The NY Times article also described the discrepancy between schools with wealthier parents who can support such mega fundraising, and those in poorer communities, where little to no money is raised; that situation, too, exists in San Francisco. Public schools with many middle class SF families fundraise half a million dollars a year to pay for both basics and enrichments, while other low income schools, which may still be using the bake sale/car wash fundraising model, can barely raise a few hundred to pay for some basics and no enrichment.

Dana goes on to give an overview of the grim situation California is in and discusses Edmatchsfa new initiative that helps spread the fundraising burden to corporations, and a new program the California is sponsoring innovate program called the School Smarts Parent Academy, which looks like something other state parent-teacher organizations should pick up on.

The article is worth reading in its entirety. Read more.


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