As public financing for schools goes down, the issue of parent fundraising for schools — and equity issues connected to it — is getting more and more attention.
I thought I’d at least get a start on bringing together a few resources on the topic. Additional suggestions are welcome:
I’ve written a post titled The Nuances Of Parent Fundraising For Schools that is worth a look.
The New York Times wrote about how “At Two City Schools, Parents’ Money Leads to Two Very Different Experiences.”
And The Times has also published Fund-Raising Fairness Is Being Tested in Oregon, With Mixed Results. Here’s an excerpt:
So a compromise was struck.
Efforts to split Santa Monica-Malibu district gain new traction is an article in The New York Times about a controversy around wealthy parent fundraising in Malibu being shared with Santa Monica.
Parents could have private foundations for their children’s schools. But 30 cents of every dollar raised after the first $10,000 must be passed on to the citywide foundation.
Rob Reich (not Robert Reich, the former Clinton Cabinet member) has written a useful article in The New York Times titled Not Very Giving.
It’s about the issue of parents in wealthy communities raising private funds for public schools, while high-poverty schools are in the same situation.
Here are his suggestions for how to respond to this problem:
There is still a lot we can do to improve this upside-down system of charity. First, wealthy school foundations like Hillsborough’s should honor the equality-promoting standards released by the National Commission on Civic Investment in Public Education (on which I served). At a minimum, this would require private giving to be aggregated across schools and shared equally with the entire school district. More ambitiously, it would channel private giving to support poor districts.
Second, because the root cause of inadequate school financing is ultimately political, not philanthropic, donors and school foundations should support political reforms. A movement is afoot in California to amend the property-tax slashing Proposition 13 to require fair market value taxation of commercial real estate, which would raise tax revenues. In effect, by asking parents to donate, the Hillsborough Schools Foundation encourages them to work around the obstacle of Prop 13 rather than confronting the problems it creates directly. It would be better if the foundation organized parents in support of amending Prop 13.
Finally, Congress should differentiate or eliminate charitable status for local education foundations. If a foundation raises money for a district with a high percentage of children eligible for free lunch, it could offer a double deduction; for a district below the average in per-pupil spending, the standard deduction; for a district with few poor children and higher than average per-pupil spending, no deduction. If private giving to public schools exacerbates inequalities, then at the very least we should stop subsidizing such behavior with tax dollars.
I’m adding this post to a list of other “The Best…” lists I’ve published related to parent engagement.