Some public school PTAs in New York City aren’t just raising money through bake sales or car washes, they are asking parents to straight up write checks in the thousands of dollars.
Some of the schools are raising more than $1 millions to help fill the budgetary gaps and give their kids the advantages of private schools. But what about the public schools in poor areas where parents can’t afford to write checks?
“At a time when the city’s schools have had their financing cut by an average of 13.7 percent over the past five years, the money has buffered these schools from the hard choices many others have had to make. In a system where many parents’ associations raise no money at all, these schools have earned a special name among parents and school consultants: ‘public privates.’ ”
“ ‘Many now have amenities that can compete with private school offerings,’ said Emily Glickman, the president of Abacus Guide Educational Consulting, a private-school admissions company, on the Upper East Side.”
“These schools are in some of the city’s wealthiest ZIP codes, most of them in Manhattan, and their students typically garner top scores on statewide exams. (In 2011, at P. S. 290, 88.9 percent of students were proficient in reading, and 92.9 percent demonstrated proficiency in math. The citywide averages for the subjects were 43.9 percent and 57.3 percent.)”
In some schools the principals even go the PTA and tell them what they need: new iPads for the lower-grade classrooms and a part-time secretary. The PTA votes ‘yes’ and the principal gets what she needs.
But what happens at poor schools? What about the disparity?
“Dennis M. Walcott, New York City’s schools chancellor, said that he was well aware of “the disparity issue,” but he did not want to penalize parents for getting involved.”
“Department officials say the city has also moved to curb inequities within the system through its budgeting process by instituting a “fair funding formula,” which was put in place, Ms. Miller, the department spokeswoman, said, to allow the city ‘to direct more resources to schools that need it the most.’ ”
The story mentions that in Portland some of the richer schools that raise a lot of money donate to other schools that have less. Would your school PTA want to do that?
While I think it’s unusual to raise $1 million at a school, I don’t think it’s unusual for schools to ask parents to straight up write checks. Some parents made donations to our school in Gwinnett and our schools in Arizona appeal to parents repeatedly though the year to write a check directly to the school. In Arizona that donation can be taken directly off their state tax bill. (Is that how it works in other states?)
So lots to discuss here:
Is it right for schools to ask for checks from parents? Would you be willing to straight-up write a check instead of buying cookie dough or wrapping paper? Would you rather write a check?
What should happen to state funding for those wealthier schools? Should it be deferred to other schools without parent contributors?
Should the richer school pool and share with sister schools? (I always thought that parents at school with tons of volunteers should volunteer at schools where they had none. When I worked downtown I went once a week to volunteer at a City of Atlanta school down the street from the AJC. I worked on reading skills with fourth-graders. I didn’t see any parents in there.)
Is it OK to have public private schools?