Tuesday, November 30, 2010

SFGate: Albany schools try to balance parent-funded extras

"The city of Albany is up in arms over new district-imposed controls on PTA cash at each of the city's three elementary schools, with the school board dictating what parents can -- or more specifically can't -- buy for their kids to supplement their public education," according to a story on SFGate. How do you think S.F. parents would respond if a similar approach to PTA funds was adopted here in the city? Is S.F.'s model working, or not working?

Read the full story

27 comments:

  1. I have spoken before on this website advocating for the creation of a district-wide fund that would be distributed equitably to ALL. In Albany, the disparities are miniscule compared to the disparities in SF public schools. Let's face it: here we have some schools raising $250,000 plus while others are struggling to raise $20,000. But I think Albany is going about it the wrong way. Parents at schools that raise extra funds should not be penalized; rather, we need to create a unified fund and work to convince corporate and other large donors (and maybe one day lots of parents?) that a unified fund is the best way to equitably spread the wealth. So I think Albany is on to something that needs to be addressed; it just needs to be done in a voluntary and not coercive way.

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  2. My concerns: who/what entity would give out the funds (and would they take a cut for their admin); who would decide what is funded at each school; and what would be the process for accessing these funds. I fear an over-complicated system would be created, and that much of the money raised would go to cover admin and personnel costs of those with oversight of the fund. Right now, through most PTAs there is no such cost, so you get a much better "bang" for your dollar. I am not opposed to pooling the funds, it makes senses.

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  3. If you want to shut down donations tell parents they cannot donate to their schools. Mark my words, if this happens in SF not only will it send middle income parents running for the exits, it will also dramatically reduce private dollars flowing into public schools. The Bolsheviks downtown have already robbed public funding from supposedly rich Peter in order to pay supposedly poor Paul (as if the westsiders are rolling in capital gains and the the southeasterners are all living in the streets). I'm sure the criminals and embezzelers in SFUSD would love to get their hands on your money and seal the deal to make redistribution of wealth the new top priority in the name of equity.

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  4. walnut creek school district collects money for all of it's school through it's foundation. parents can also give money to individual schools. all the schools in walnut creek are excellent. this would be a good model for sf. it works as far as i know. we are part of the walnut creek school district.

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  5. So let me make sure I got this right: the school district doesn't want some schools to be better than others, they want them to suck equally. Yes, that makes a lot of sense.

    Morons... The main reason parents raise money is because the funds go to their kids education. Distribute the money equally, and the donations will drop significantly.

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  6. 9:49,

    You seem to imply that you are not very versed in the Walnut Creek model, yet you say we should adopt that model.

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  7. When an associate superintendent and other district employees are caught taking kickback via the Department Students Services (see the Bay Citizen, New York Times and previous thread on the subject), I'm unlikely to support giving school officials control of private funds,too.

    The California Legislature made much Categorical spending flexible - meaning that funds that once had to be used for specific programs can be used "for any educational purpose". That mean 666, I mean 555, can take the money and run. And they did. They did a grab and stole money from west side schools and gave it to others. This is on top of the State and Federal funding that dwarfs what is raised privately.

    You can agree or disagree on how to allocate scarce resources. But there is precious little evidence that increased educational funding will lift students out of s=academic failure and poverty if other more essential factors are not first addressed. Right now we fully fund all sorts of intervention programs that employee many and teach few.

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  8. Actually, the evidence that funding and performance are highly correlated is enormous. There are, of course, all of the studies that show the remarkable link between income/school resources and academic achievement.

    Then there are the studies that show that well-funded schools work. The most recent round of data comes from California's QEIA program.

    The idea that southeast side schools are stealing from west side schools - the schools whose salaries they subsidize - is offensive. Moreover, it ignores that southeast side schools serve high-needs populations and the historically underserved much more than west side schools do. Those students need more money. They aren't getting anywhere near what's really required to offer even an equal opportunity, let alone the fever dream reverse racist scheme some appear to imagine.

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  9. What Walnut Creek does is the norm in wealthy school districts. (Drive through Marin and every town has a sign at its city limits showing the level of giving to its school foundation; Orinda has the same sign downtown.)

    It's obligatory to every retail business and restaurant in town to have the sticker in the window announcing that it supports the (rich suburb) public schools.

    It's a mystery to many why San Francisco doesn't have a foundation working the same way.

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  10. E Rat,

    The Weighted Student Formula, used in many districts around the nation, prevents schools from being punished monetarily for having more veteran staff. It is favored by your union UESF. It also provides extra funding for lower performing students, hence the name. If a fire department costs more because of its location and staff should the municipality strip it of the necessary funding required to make it viable?

    In regard to your comment that included your standard attempt to use race as a wedge issue, I have to say this:

    Since ESEA in the 60's and the rise of categorical funding in the 70's, along with the court ordered state takeover of most school funding, about 30-40% of all revenue allocated to public schools is in some form of trageting programming intended to address low achievement and poverty related issues. Yet, achievement along socio-economic lines has not changed much and may has worsened when you consider the drop out rate and low graduation rates among historically underperforming minority groups.

    The issue isn't about getting more money to apply as needed as much as it is about putting that money to good use. In that regard, statistics don't lie. The progressives believe that if we just spend more the problems will be solved. This is just a cover for shifting more money to their constituents, lobbies and unions.

    If you set up a district-wide foundation for the public to donate to the public schools, it is only a matter of time before the money ends up in the favored areas of politicians.

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  11. I would not support a district wide foundation simply because I do not believe that money will be distributed equitably. If the foundation was required to dole it out on a per pupil basis that I could support as long as administrative fees were negligible.

    Slightly off topic, the current system for supporting teacher salaries through the weighted student formula doesn't increase the district's bottom line. The idea that low API schools lose money to high API schools is just not true. But I do hear this falsehood repeated often. Retaining high quality experienced teachers in low performing schools has never been hindered as a result of the WSF. Teachers don't leave because they can make more at another school. Their pay structure actually favors staying at the lower API schools. They leave because they want the better working conditions which are offered in schools that have fewer social issues with which to contend.

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  12. I'm 4:42 pm. My kids were at a school with a PTA that struggled to raise $30,000. We are now at a school raising six digit numbers. What. A. Difference. That's why I think we have got to deal with this issue in SF. And it doesn't have to be a fund controlled by the District. A nonprofit foundation could be set up. The foundation would first hit up the big corporate donors in the city. And, yes, that might mean that some corporations like Whole Foods are no longer going to fund specific schools because they will be only giving to the general fund. The same probably will go for large private donors -- the fund may even attract some who would feel uncomfortable giving to a specific school. Yes, individual parents will continue to fund specific schools, but a unified fund would at least begin the process of putting some bottom line of additional funding to every school.

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  13. Then there are sites like Donors Choose or Adopt a School. Right now the model is to target the individual schools.

    I don't see how creating a non-profit foundation will solve the problems of inequity in schools. It will just place the responsibility on a different set of people.

    Those inequities exist irrespective of the involvement of a PTA raising funds.

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  14. If more money increases achievement why does the rapid rise of targeted funding over the last 30 years correlate with worsening achievement and dropout statistics? Ya, I know, we just haven't redistributed enough wealth to hit critical mass.

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  15. 10:45, such a foundation does exist -- the SF School Alliance.

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  16. The moderator censors comments for no other reason than she doesn't agree with them. My comments about SFPPS deficiencies on another thread were not unkind or rude, simply factual. Apparently any criticism of SFPPS will not be tolerated on SF Kfiles.

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  17. The neighborhood schools measure from Students First is on the ballot for November of 2011. There won't be a lot of measures so the few that are on it will get more coverage. Any attempt to restrict private funding will fuel discontent and support for neighborhood schools - so bring it on. And any attempt to shut down honors and AP will also create a backlash against progressivism.

    It easy for Marin to redistribute funding considering that it is the richest county in America. It doesn't have a large impoverished population that would tax the resources of the middle classes.

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  18. Was that the group that gave kickbacks to some personnel at the downtown office or was it another one?

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  19. Caroline -- you may know about the alliance but I and a host of other parents don't. And so they are obviously not doing a great job of getting their message out. I hate to feed the troll, but don your comments are out of line. I have not seen one comment on this thread that suggested anything like the Albany approach. I think a well publicized group that can get corporations and large donors to funnel money to ALL schools equally is an idea whose time has come. If done well, it should grow the entire pie for all -- who knows but perhaps a kaiser is out there that wants to give to all public school kids in sf. Maybe it could be a foundation under the auspices of pps.

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  20. The reason Foundations that serve entire Districts work in small communities is that every student feeds into one or two middle and/ or high schools, so the impetus to give and ensure that every student is getting the opportunity for a good education is personal- those children will be sitting with your own in a classroom one day, and if they are not at grade-level, the teacher's attention will be pulled away from your own child. Many of these Districts also have policies in place that PTA's cannot fund certain things like teacher salaries, so if you want those things for your child, you need to ensure all children will get them. A better model for San Francisco to employ would be to put in place a policy that a certain percentage (i.e., 10%) of the amount raised by each PTA would need to go to a Foundation that would be managed not by the District (they never are), but by a Board of Directors and perhaps an Executive Director.

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  21. The SF School Alliance exists, but it doesn't seem to do what it's supposed to do.

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  22. 8:26,

    You cannot put together a logical argument so you resort to ad hominem attacks on me. I like to remind you that I am posting in my name and YOU are posting anonymously. So get off your high horse you hypocrit.

    Anyway, what do the comments on this thread have to do SFUSD policy? If Albany wants to dictate to parents what they cannot fund through donations, it is not a stretch to believe that SFUSD might do the same thing. I don't know if they will or not. But they certainly could and I wouldn't put it past them. Telling parents they do not have the right to donate to their school is a fundamental restriction of individual liberties.

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  23. The Albany approach is entirely possible in San Francisco, politics being what it is here. I agree with 8:26 to the extent that a foundation for all schools is a fine idea though we already have one such as it is. I agree with Don in that restricting private donations is an infringement on liberties. It is also a dumb-ass thing to do as it will most assuredly result in fewer contributions in toto.

    Hopefully our Board of Education will not act foolhardily in trying to replicate the Albany model. Albany has a different demographic and is another ball of wax.

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  24. You increase donations by providing more incentives and options, not by restricting incentives and options.

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  25. I was talking to a co-worker whose kid goes to the Albany school and she pointed out that a huge majority of the "extra" money comes not from PTAs, but from a general nonprofit fund that distributes money raised from businesses and individual donors to ALL the Albany schools. Well, we just don't have that here. To me, the question is not whether we should be restricting parents' donations, but whether we should be aggressively widening the opportunities by creating a nonprofit fund that raises money from businesses in the city. And I've talked to several insiders at companies like Whole Foods and have heard that they would be MUCH happier donating to just one fund for the entire school system in SF than having to field dozens of inquiries from each individual school's PTA. I really think this is something that PPS should take up -- we need a city-wide fund created, well-publicized and aggressively going to the businesses in the city for extra money for ALL the schools here.

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  26. Don Krause is an idiot.

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