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Special Report: Education Inequality

Public Schools, Private Money

Parents ramp up fundraising, widening the rich-poor divide

For the winter 2014 print edition cover story, the San Francisco Public Press examined tax records from PTAs and compiled 10 years of budget and academic data from the city’s school district. The research focused only on elementary schools to make easy comparisons. Our research shows that while a small number of schools were able to avoid the worst effects of recent budget cuts, belts continued to tighten at schools with more economically disadvantaged students. Read the series: sfpublicpress.org/publicschools

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

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

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

Albany School District Levels Parent Fundraising Playing Field

10 Solutions to Inequality in Elementary School Fundraising

Photo Essay: Two PTA Presidents, Two Realities

Buy a copy of the newspaper  |  See also: Five Ways to Encourage Giving to Disadvantaged Public Schools (Greater Good Science Center)  |  Radio: Jeremy Adam Smith interviewed on KPFA’s “Morning Mix”  |  KQED News  |  KQED’s hour-long talk show “Forum” with Dave Iverson |  KALW’s “Your Call” with Rose Aguilar  |  Op-ed in SF Chronicle

Public Schools

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

Jeremy Adam Smith, San Francisco Public Press — Feb 3 2014 - 4:09pm

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 - 4:08pm

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.

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