From Dana Goldstein:
Craig Foster, a school board member from Malibu who favors separation, said parents voluntarily giving money wanted to see the fruits of their donations.
An ideal PTA system gives a parent “the opportunity to put your money where your heart is,” said Mr. Foster, a former managing director at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse. “It has to be an emotional appeal, and it has to be for the benefit of the donor.”
Indeed, the powerful appeal of helping one’s own child has turned the apple-pie PTA into a mirror of society’s larger stratification. According to a new report by the Center for American Progress, a liberal advocacy group, schools that serve just one-tenth of 1 percent of American students collect 10 percent of the estimated $425 million that PTAs raise nationwide each year.
And those schools, not surprisingly, are some of the least needy, according to the study, which analyzed PTA tax returns from 2013 and student demographics. The richest PTA in the nation, with $2 million in revenue, was at Highland Park High School in a suburb of Dallas, where no one qualified for free or discounted lunch. (Nationwide, about half of public school students are eligible.)
Only 9 percent qualified at the second-richest, Public School 87 on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, where the PTA’s revenue exceeded $1.5 million. The money was used to pay for dance, yoga, chess, and math and literacy coaching.
Leaders at several overachieving PTAs also said their generosity addressed another kind of inequality: Their schools did not benefit from Title I, the federal taxpayer-funded program for schools that serve large numbers of poor children.