Conflicts Arise When Parents Are Asked to Close School Money Gap

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Following years of budget cuts to education, New York City families are being asked to contribute more money to public schools.

Kyle Spencer, a freelance education reporter and New York Times contributor, and Beth Fertig of WNYC spoke on "The Brian Lehrer Show" about how families are paying for basics, like toilet paper and school supplies, as well as pooling together enough funds to hire more staff members.

These fund-raising efforts, they said, shed light on class conflicts, philosophical differences and the debate over what parents should pay for in a public school system.

The National PTA does not advocate parents' reaching into their wallets to cover core services, said Ms. Spencer, because it can create disparity between wealthier and poorer districts.

"But also," she said, "you send a message to departments of education and to the state and to the federal government -- 'Don't worry, guys. We'll cover it.'"

A caller to the program made the point that PTAs were pushing for families to contribute even just $1, since broad participation is often more important than money in the bank when trying to secure grants.

SchoolBook has been collecting information from families to analyze how much they spend on public education, and how the costs compare across schools and boroughs. Parents can let us know here or scroll down to the simple form and comments box below.

You can listen to the entire "Brian Lehrer Show" segment here.

"The Brian Lehrer Show"