Question from a Reader

Dear Jay,

     Could you tell us what you think of the situation regarding PTA fundraising, considering that some schools are raising more money than others, thereby offering better programs to their students?

HR, Palo Alto

Dear HR,

     For those readers who are not aware of the circumstances, this is a capsulization: Some of our schools have PTA’s that raise large amounts of money as a result of living in one of the more affluent attendance areas. The schools that raise more money are using it to hire extra teachers for lowering class size and providing programs that the other schools cannot provide. The Board of Education is discussing ways to deal with this inequity.

     I offer two thoughts as a means of framing this.

  1.  At the beginning of the current school year, my principal presented to our faculty a statement that she asked us to consider: "All of our children are all of our children." Could we express our concern, discipline, and fondness to children outside of our own individual classes? This, she posited, would help to make the school a more cohesive community.
  2. Think back to a year or so ago, when the Palo Alto schools were urging votes for a parcel tax to help fund increased teacher salaries and other improvements. In such a venture, we were urged to understand that even though we may not still have children in our schools, and therefore not personally affected, everyone in our society reaps the benefits of a well-educated populace.

     With those ideas as a background, I offer my opinion and propose a solution to the problem. Why not take each school’s fundraising proceeds, deposit them into a centralized account, and then divide the funds among the participating schools? In this way, we recognize that all of our children are, indeed, all of our children, and that we are all contributing to the welfare of the entire school-aged population, whether we are related to the children or not.

     To paraphrase a popular bumper sticker: Think more globally while you act scholastically.

Do you have a question for your child's teacher concerning your child's education? Chances are the answers are in Teach Your Children Well: A Teacher's Advice for Parents. Order it today from or your favorite bookseller.

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