How dollars flow down Santa Monica Boulevard



moolah photo

It's my money; I'll do what I want.
Photo by sushi♥ina

Do well-heeled parents have the right to heap donations
on their students’ public schools to pay for teacher aids, extra library hours,
or a media lab? Of course—though, as the Los
Angeles Times
explains, expect a fight. This week’s example comes from the
Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, where the PTA at one Malibu
elementary school adds over $2,100 per pupil to the school’s coffers compared
with a mere $96 raised at another district elementary twenty miles down the
road. The school board is mulling a plan to centralize all PTA donations,
allowing for more equitable student funding. Our position on school financing
is clear: Funding formulas should include weights that ensure that more public
resources be allotted to higher-need students. But, when it comes to private
dollars, districts and states should tread carefully. If parents want to donate
more, so be it. Barring wealthy parents from education-related giving will only
push them to invest instead in private extracurriculars—or even private schools—thus
completely undermining the equity-based intentions of the embargo. Instead of
this tack, here’s another solution for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School
District: Ride the current wave of “philanthropy philosophy.” (Think: TOMS
Shoes, in which you purchase one item for yourself at a higher cost, so that
the second can be donated.) Or go one further, adopt a “sister schools” policy—look
to D.C. for an example here—linking wealthy schools (and their donations) to a
less affluent building. All in all, that would be pretty close to a win-win.

Click to play

Click to hear more ideas on how to handle private donations to public schools from the Education Gadfly Show podcast.

 

Public
Schools, Private Donations
,” Los
Angeles Times
, November 27, 2011.

More By Author

Related Articles