education

10 Solutions to Inequality in Elementary School Fundraising

Jeremy Adam Smith, San Francisco Public Press — Feb 13 2014 - 4:58pm

PTA fundraising at public elementary schools in San Francisco is wildly uneven, with only a small number of schools raising enough money in recent years to avoid the worst effects of state budget cuts. Based on Public Press research and conversations with experts in the field, here are some options for addressing uneven access to funding for San Francisco’s public elementary schools.

Part of a special report on education inequality in San Francisco. A version of this story ran in the winter 2014 print edition.

Albany School District Levels Parent Fundraising Playing Field

Emilie Raguso, San Francisco Public Press — Feb 13 2014 - 4:58pm

Concerned about equity, 3 elementary school PTAs pool money for daytime enrichment

The tiny Albany Unified School District in the East Bay was, until 2011, like many others in the state: Schools with the best parent fundraising were able to reap all the benefits for their own kids. Superintendent Marla Stephenson said the disparities had been immediately apparent when she began working for the district in 2008. Three years later she led the switch to a single annual campaign for all three schools — one that could provide an example for San Francisco and other districts struggling with inequities made worse by parent fundraising.

Part of a special report on education inequality in San Francisco. A version of this story ran in the winter 2014 print edition.

Infographics: School Fundraising in S.F. by the Numbers

Jeffrey Thorsby, Jason Winshell, Tom Guffey and Justin Slaughter, San Francisco Public Press — Feb 6 2014 - 5:10pm

The San Francisco Unified School District aims to spend its funds equitably, not necessarily equally. That means giving more to schools with the highest needs, based on a complex formula. But in the past decade, parents at some schools have developed sophisticated fundraising operations to make up for years of tight districtwide budgets. The result: parents at a few schools are able to significantly supplement their children’s education, while most are not.

Part of a special report on education inequality in San Francisco. A version of this story ran in the winter 2014 print edition.

How Budget Cuts and PTA Fundraising Undermined Equity in San Francisco Public Schools

Jeremy Adam Smith, San Francisco Public Press — Feb 3 2014 - 5:09pm

PUBLIC SCHOOLS, PRIVATE MONEY: Parent fundraising for elementary education in S.F. skyrocketed 800 percent in 10 years. The largesse saved some classroom programs, but widened the gap between rich and poor.

In an era of shrinking public investment in schools, parents have struggled to hold the line one school at a time. Since the pre-recession year 2007, elementary school PTAs in San Francisco collectively managed to more than quadruple their spending on schools. 

With this money, some schools have been able to pay teachers and staff, buy computers and school supplies, and underwrite class outings and enrichment activities. These expenses, previously covered by the taxpayers, are increasingly the responsibility of parents.

But school district finance data, PTA tax records and demographic profiles reveal an unintended byproduct of parents’ heroic efforts: The growing reliance on private dollars has widened inequities between the impoverished majority and the small number of schools where affluent parents cluster.

Part of a special report on education inequality in San Francisco. A version of this story ran in the winter 2014 print edition.

Debate in 2014: Use State Windfall for S.F. Schools to Aid Poorest Students, or Raise Teacher Pay?

Justin Slaughter, San Francisco Public Press — Feb 3 2014 - 5:08pm

New state dollars will begin flowing into the San Francisco Unified School District in the fall — and policymakers and activists have already begun arguing over how to spend them. Should the San Francisco Board of Education use the $22 million from a new funding scheme to increase teacher salaries districtwide? Should it hire more classroom aides? Or should it adjust its decade-old equitable funding policy that gives a leg up to schools with many children from poor families?

Part of a special report on education inequality in San Francisco. A version of this story ran in the winter 2014 print edition.

Against all odds, former foster kid dons graduation cap

Rosa Ramirez, New America Media — May 31 2012 - 3:40pm

The last time Lerone Matthis was released from the Division of Juvenile Justice in April 2008, he feared he had reached bottom. “I was discouraged by the [diminished] prospects for a meaningful future,” Matthis recalled. He didn’t have a place to rest his head, bathe or change his clothes. He wore the same jeans and white shirt “that was dingy around the neck” because it hadn’t been washed for a month. Since he didn’t have a place to store his clothes, he bought socks from a neighborhood liquor store. He relied on relatives and friends for food and shelter. Other times, the former foster youth simply went hungry.

Millions for Mission District schools: Where is the money going?

Lisette Mejia, Mission Local — May 23 2012 - 7:03pm

They belong to a club where membership hinges on low reading and math skills, and high dropout rates. They’re some of the worst-performing schools in the state, even the country, and to shape up, the Mission’s six struggling schools took drastic measures to qualify for a share of a $45 million grant — including firing principals and replacing half the staff. In December 2010, Bryant, Everett, Buena Vista Horace Mann, Mission High and John O’Connell began receiving an average of $1.6 million a year for three years from the new federal School Improvement Grant program.

Some funds restored, temperature lowered at UC protests

Rosemary Macaulay, SF Public Press — Oct 13 2010 - 5:40pm

Students, staff and faculty protested across nine UC campuses last week in defense of public education after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the 2010-2011 state budget, which partially restores the deep budget cuts made to higher education last year. Though less fired up than they had been during the previous year’s demonstrations, the protesters at Berkeley remained far from satisfied.

San Francisco props A and B pass; millions more for school, safety retrofits

Theresa Seiger, SF Public Press — Jun 9 2010 - 4:55pm

San Francisco voters approved measures to retrofit schools and emergency services facilities Tuesday in an election in which five of seven local propositions passed. Twenty-three percent of voters showed up at San Francisco’s 590 precincts, passing propositions A, B, D, E and F. Proposition A, which will extend through 2030 a special property tax that was enacted in 1990, was approved by 69.9 percent of voters. Proposition B, the Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response Bond, was approved by 79.2 percent of voters.

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