Private Foundations in Schools: Radio Talk Show Topic

A week and a half ago, there was an in­ter­est­ing show on KQED Radio “Forum” about the im­pact of fund-rais­ing-only ed­u­ca­tion foun­da­tions on the ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem in California. You can lis­ten to it from this page. One thing that struck me was how ig­no­rant the par­tic­i­pants were of how the PTA works. PTAs strive to main­tain a bal­ance be­tween fundrais­ing and ad­vo­cacy. In many schools, an ed. fund is spun off as a sep­a­rate en­tity, so PTAs can avoid be­com­ing overly con­cerned with fundrais­ing and main­tain suf­fi­cient in­volve­ment in ad­vo­cacy. In the same school, a par­ent can be in­volved in PTA and a con­trib­u­tor to a lo­cal ed. fund.

There were two speak­ers from the San Francisco Education Foundation and San Francisco School Alliance. These foun­da­tions are more fo­cused on rais­ing money for “strate­gic change” pur­poses (hir­ing con­sul­tants) in­stead of di­rect sup­port. The role of foun­da­tions like their’s in school sys­tems was not crit­i­cally an­a­lyzed.

Instead these two spent most of the time beat­ing up on the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a con­sor­tium of foun­da­tions in California for be­ing some­thing else than what these foun­da­tions are ac­tu­ally set up to be. Local ad hoc so­lu­tions for di­rect ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram sup­port.

My fa­vorite mo­ment was when the pro­gres­sive spokesper­son for San Francisco School Alliance ad­mit­ted he had sent all his kids to pri­vate school. It’s much eas­ier to sup­port a “height­en­ing the con­tra­dic­tions” ap­proach to a sys­tem when you are com­pletely out­side the par­tic­u­lar sys­tem.