Helaine Olen at Slate looks at a new rule in the Santa Monica-Maliba Unified School District which stops parents from fundraising just for their children’s school. Why?
To the outside world, the two Southern California beach communities are fabulously wealthy, fully populated by show-business stars and others of significant means. Then there is reality. Santa Monica, especially, is quite diverse, with significant low-income and Latino populations.
That diversity is reflected in the individual schools. One elementary school is so adept at getting its wealthy parents to open their checkbooks that it is able to spend an additional $2,000 per student on enrichment activities, which include employing multiple reading and instructional assistants, as well as classes in chorale music, marine science, and art. But at another Santa Monica-Malibu Unified school, located just a few miles away, a significant percentage of the kids come from economically disadvantaged homes and the local PTA can’t even muster up an additional $100 per child, leaving the students to make do with a truncated music program, a few art classes, and one measly instructional assistant.
Rob Reich [in “The Failure of Philanthropy”] points to two communities and their foundations. In wealthy Woodside, CA, which has a median household income of $171,000, the foundation collected $10 million between 1998 and 2003. A nearby town with an average income of $45,000 does not have a foundation, but it could use one to provide basic necessities for the school like textbooks and classroom supplies.