Parent Funding for Schools

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Kyle Spencer, freelance education reporter and New York Times contributor, and Beth Fertig, WNYC's education reporter and contributor to SchoolBook, talk about class conflict within New York City public school PTAs and the broader issue of parental funding for public schools.

SchoolBook asks, how much has your child’s public school education cost you so far this year?


Beth Fertig and Kyle Spencer

Comments [19]

jasco loves

public stoddert school wash dc the pta collects annual dues of $400

worth every penny from what i have seen

Mar. 20 2012 11:54 AM


More taxes is not the only answer. Some of us are already unable to pay our school taxes.

Mar. 20 2012 11:12 AM

Some months ago there was a guest on this show or lopate in which a brooklyn writer (can anybody remember this writer? I wanted to buy the book but can't find the bookmark) asserted that parents are getting played by administrators for feeling like they are contributing to the schools by writing checks -- yet they are kept far from actually doing anything meaningful relating to the curriculum -- UNLESS approved by the principal. the guest asserted that this is offensive BS -- parents need to revolt, if necessary -- to make sure that the school is being run to THEIR approval.

With this in mind I joined a parents group that is OUTSIDE the pta -- rather the sole official associated with it is the Superintendent of Schools. Brilliant! Has anybody else done this, and what are your objectives, accomplishments and issues that distinguish you from your PTA?

Mar. 20 2012 11:08 AM

It generally breaks down by the number of working parents are in the family. If two parents work outside the home they usually donate more money. If one parent works outside the home, the other generally volunteers more. Single parents are generally covered by the others. That said, there are many exceptions. The job of PTA president is HUGE. We have co-presidents, so there is always one who has a years experience.

Mar. 20 2012 11:08 AM

BL Producer: please consider giving a voice to the taxpayers in this conversation. Talking about the cost of cupcakes and parental subsidies without framing the matter in the context of real budgets , real taxes, and real enrollments is not helpful.

Mar. 20 2012 11:07 AM
Molly from nyc

Well, if people don't want to pay higher taxes.. this is what you get. You have to pay either way. How do you think supplies get there?? Taxes. it's a values thing... do you want money spent on drones or school supplies? Or, do you believe we need to cut back on police, fire, libraries and schools? Perhaps you're in that camp. We can't afford it.

Defunding of the schools via the current meme of austerity and overall gov't cutbacks, simply allow for those who can stand to profit from the strong push to privatize. Then guess who'll get left behind??

Mar. 20 2012 11:05 AM

Our school asks for $2000 per family plus a couple hundred for supplies plus a couple hundred for the classroom. Funds go to replace a dance teacher and a chess teacher who we lost to cuts. It also funds classroom aides in classes that have grown to 27 and 28 kids in primary school. I am happy to help because I can see the results directly, but it does cause tension. I had a tough year last year and it was difficult to get dunning calls from a fellow parent as well as from creditors.

Mar. 20 2012 10:58 AM
Sophie from Poughkeepsie, NY

It is accurate and I was just as surprised to learn that from my daughter! Because she is getting "extra" credit for bringing these items in!

Mar. 20 2012 10:58 AM
Howard from nyc

Our school PTO raised over 250 thousand last year

Mar. 20 2012 10:58 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

Good point about TIME that parents donate. Wealthier families are more likely to have moms who can afford to stay home and donate their time to the schools.

Mar. 20 2012 10:55 AM
fuva from Harlemworld

Parent funding of class supplies, etc. runs the risk of reinforcing counterproductive class (as in socioeconomic) issues. Parents at least need to be cognizant of this, so they can try to mitigate it.

Mar. 20 2012 10:55 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

Sure, it's easy enough to say don't do it, it sends a bad message, but what are you going to do? Let your kids go without? Not likely.

Mar. 20 2012 10:54 AM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

The example of the cupcake in Sunset Park seemed woefully petty; school lunches cost $1 in the 1980's; how can any school's fundraising efforts keep up with inflation if parents balk at a raise in price to $1 in 2012?

That said, how incredibly pathetic NY Public schools are asking parents to chip in for toilet paper & paper. Something is gravely wrong here.

Mar. 20 2012 10:53 AM
JL from NJ

The question isn't how much can I do for the school.

The question is WHAT MORE can I do for the school -- beyond what parents and ptas normally do.

Is your child's arts, science, phys ed, nutrition, library, sports, guest speakers ideal? after school programs? fields and playgrounds??

If you have an hour a month -- are you looking for ways to supplement the school beyond cookies?


Mar. 20 2012 10:52 AM
Sophie from Poughkeepsie, NY

Students can earn extra points on their grade for bringing things for the classroom such as: tissues, glue sticks, scotch tape, liquid glue etc.

And this is at the high school level.

I don;t know what it costs, but it's infinitely cheaper than paying for private school where they also ask for classroom supply donations.

Mar. 20 2012 10:45 AM

Running out of paper, and similar fire drills, smacks of political terrorism. The district that I pay into budgets over 20K per student per year (about 4x the cost of the nearby community college). When they run out of paper, they are clearly cutting in the wrong places. For what it is worth, I have no kids yet I've been paying huge dollars every year into the system. I believe in the value of public education but when I hear about schools running out of paper, and the subsequent cry for more funds, I can't help but shake my head in disgust. Does primary education really need to cost so much?

Mar. 20 2012 10:37 AM
Jennifer from Brooklyn

My sons teachers could not send home notices because the school had run out of paper! Parents got together and donated a few boxes of paper. Students are asked to bring hand soap and basic supplies like crayons and glue at the start of school. We routinely provide art supplies and even do bi weekly art projects since budget cuts left the Pre K with no art class! Every enrichment and after-school program is paid for by the PTA. School is constantly fundraising. I'm happy to contribute, but the paper was just ridiculous!

Mar. 20 2012 10:07 AM
Steve from Manhattan

A lot. I stopped keeping track. The Mayor, Chancellor, and PEP are suffocating and starving our schools. This year, in addition to paying for school supplies (which include items like soap and toilet paper - the DOE refuses to pay for these items but dictates to us what brands to buy), the parents had to come up with the money to pay for teachers. We are fortunate that there are some families in our community with resources so it was all done. All the while the Education Mayor keeps cutting the school budgets.

Mar. 20 2012 09:33 AM
simpsonsmovieblew from Somerset County, NJ

having lived in poorer and rich communities in NYC and NJ, i have observed that in addition to spending more time and money on their schools, it is quite obvious to me that members of the richer communities are spending a *larger percentage* of their time and money on making sure their kids get a great education by improving the schools (even the meetings and activities themselves are far more productive and less political).

For poor folks who resent the rich folks giving too much money to your kids' school, I have a word of advice: do not get in the way. if you can't find a way to contribute, then *get out of the way*.

Do not allow the epiphanic recognition of the direct correlation between wealthy neighborhood and academic excellence be a deathbed revelation!

Mar. 20 2012 09:28 AM

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