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What’s worse than a school district not being able to afford improvements to its facilities? Wealthy parents paying for those improvements themselves.

Here’s an interesting item from the Washington Post a few weeks ago: “Education officials are reviewing Montgomery County policy for private donations to pay for public school improvements. The Board of Education and County Council are worried that more high-dollar projects and amenities recently approved for affluent communities are unfair to other schools.” The paper goes on to list “the privately funded projects for Montgomery schools that cost more than $10,000 during fiscal 2011-13.” These included things like “scoreboard replacement” and “playground improvements.”

At a time when school districts are strapped for cash, you would think that administrators would be happy to see parents picking up the slack but instead they are scrutinizing these donations to make sure that every school gets the same amount of money. The items listed are hardly going to make the difference between a good school and a bad school. A new "HVAC for a concession stand" will not improve test scores or help kids get into college.

These are simply the small ways that families try to make things a little better for their children, to add a little school spirit.

And it is often the school administrations themselves that are encouraging the fundraising activities to support these improvements. So the question is: should we simply eliminate any use of private funds in the public schools or should the PTAs raise money and then wait for the Montgomery County Board of Education to redistribute the wealth as it sees fit? As with similar strategies, I suspect that the latter will result in significantly less money raised.

2 thoughts on “A show of school spirit”

  1. Roger Clegg says:

    Right — like it or not, some parents (not just wealthy ones) will, in a nontotalitarian society, always be willing and/or able to do more for their children than other parents. You can’t stop that — and, really, why should you want to try?

  2. Andrew says:

    It is nothing short of Bolshevik to stop parents from contributing directly towards what would benefit their own communities. The entire nation could learn from such involved parents. And no, you don’t get to say that other parents can’t afford it in their districts. NONSENSE! Everyone can afford to tithe a bit and with enough good spirit, angel donors can be ferreted out to help those that help themselves. The whole educational equation starts with parents, not “fairness police”.

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