Parent-Driven Group Raises Private Support for Public Schools
Drastic cuts to public education funding in California have led many parents to reach into their own pockets to support their schools.
And although California districts have received increased aid due to a new state school funding formula this year, Todd David, a father living in San Francisco, told the San Francisco Examiner in an article on Sept. 22 that parents alone still can't make up for years of funding shortfalls.
So David, along with other local parents, founded edMatch, a nonprofit organization that asks private companies to match every dollar raised by parents at local schools. Last year, San Francisco parents at the district's 114 schools raised a total of $6 million. That meant that edMatch gave each of those schools an additional $50,000. For some schools, those edMatch dollars are a much-appreciated bonus. Parents decide how the additional funds are spent and they report back to the nonprofit to share their best practices.
Allowing parents to control how edMatch donations are used could result in some interesting choices. Are San Francisco parents having iPad versus kiln debates? Most local education foundations work with school districts to identify which needs will be supported by the money raised.
"The key to school success is more than just money," David told the Examiner, "it's parent involvement that makes the difference."
Money raised by the nonprofit is distributed equally regardless of location or need, David explained. He said edMatch does not want to create "disincentives" for PTAs to raise money. In the article, he added that edMatch is "not about resolving social justice issues."
David, a self-described believer in public-private partnerships, said that edMatch is serving the entire community by trying to keep San Franciscans from abandoning their public schools.
That point of view is contrary to some of the suggestions made by Rob Reich earlier this month in an opinion piece for The New York Times. Reich, co-director of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and an associate professor of political science at Stanford University, wrote that private giving to public schools in wealthy communities "exacerbates inequalities in financing."
Reich wrote that education foundations in California's prosperous communities should focus their efforts on lobbying lawmakers to revamp the state's property-tax laws to raise revenue for schools.
See my blog about Reich's piece here.
See our full coverage of parent empowerment issues.