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Parents Tapped to Fund Areas Cut from K-12 Budgets

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As public education's coffers are dwindling, the private sector is being asked to increase contributions to keep programs going.

Parents' organizations, businesses and private foundations are digging deep for donations—a development that raises questions about whether this will be the new normal for educational budget shortfalls, and whether it is creating new inequities in funding between "have" and "have not" communities.

Education Week's Nora Fleming examined this issue in her article, "Parent, Community Groups Pressed to Fill K-12 Budget Gaps."

In the decade since 1997, the number of educational foundations has doubled to 19,000, she reports. They raised $4.3 billion as of 2007.

"Unfortunately, districts today are balancing their budgets on the backs of parents and the community," Betsy Landers, the president of the National Parent Teacher Association, based in Alexandria, Va., told Fleming.

"Parent fundraising is a double-edged sword. It helps local schools, but it also gives an 'out' to decisionmakers when making cuts because parents can raise the difference. We're caught in a conundrum: We can fund-raise to supplement education, but we shouldn't be," Landers said.

Faced with the economic reality that tax-based budgets are unlikely to increase anytime soon, some foundation leaders have moved from fundraising into advocacy to invoke change.

Read more about this national trend here.

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