English: Northwestern High School students, staff, and parents partaking in the Fiesta Latino in the Food Court, an annual fundraising event sponsored by the schools’ choir. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A recent edweek article focused on a growing trend in public schools: Parents being pushed to help schools cover their costs. Many public school districts are seeing an uptick in the number and amount of private donations from parents. Though the extra funds certainly help schools, many see the trend as more of a problem than a solution.

  • Not all parents can afford to donate to schools. Since different areas vary in socio-economic status, this can lead to inequity between districts and even between different schools. Not only does this affect district and state-wide decisions in terms of funding, but it gives certain schools in certain areas even more of an edge over other schools. Though they can’t help it, many parents can find that they’re making education for some students better than for others.
  • Parents are doing a job they shouldn’t have to do. Many parents end up facing a Morton’s fork: they can either donate money to their school, or they can refuse to donate and instead let their school, as well as their child’s education, suffer. As was pointed out in the article, many districts see parent donations as an income source that they can fall back on.
  • Parental Engagement isn’t all about money. A growing number of parents, especially those in lower-income areas, are beginning to find that the ideas are changing about what constitutes Parental Engagement- and not for the better. Instead of focusing on increasing parental involvement in school activities, schools are getting parents involved through donations. While it is important for schools to raise funds, this might cause parents to think that donations are the only way to “get involved with a school”. Furthermore, schools are ignoring the most important benefit of parental engagement in school activities: student success. That’s something that money can’t quite buy.