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.