Category: Fundraising

FREE Public Education… But Please Donate at Roosevelt

POWER Academy at Roosevelt had $24,962 in Title I funds remaining at the end of the 2008/09 school year.  So imagine my surprise when reviewing their 2009/10 Course Guide and I read:

Under Oregon law, students cannot be required to pay a fee for classes that are part of the regular school program. However, in some instances, you may be asked to make a contribution for certain classes where additional learning materials enable the school to expand and enrich those classes. Certain science lab expenses and art class supplies are examples of classes where your contribution can make a difference in the quality of the class. You are not required to pay the requested contribution in order to enroll in the class. POWER Academy is only able to offer these enhanced learning opportunities for students because of your support and contributions. We appreciate your commitment to our instructional program and

Roosevelt is 81% free and reduced lunch but Lincoln is only 10% free/reduced.  Why does Roosevelt ask for donations but Lincoln does not?  Why doesn’t Roosevelt use their Title I money to fund the programs?

SourcedFrom Sourced from: Cheating in Class. Used by permission.

Carrie Adams blogs at Cheating in Class.


Foundation Fallacies

Discussion on the recent article PPS and the philanthro-capitalists touched on the inequities engendered by local school foundations. That discussion raised a couple common misconceptions about direct funding of schools, which I’d like to dispel.

1. “…my guess is that the [Title 1 funds] lower income schools receive equal, if not exceed, the amounts raised by foundations.”

If you browse through the school profiles published by the district, it’s easy to see where one could come up with this idea. In general, rich schools have positions funded by local school foundations (LSFs) and poor schools have Title 1 money. There are two problems with this assumption. First, it’s false. Second, even if it were true, it still wouldn’t be equitable.

Looking at dollars-per-student added to school budgets last school year from Title 1, Local school foundations (LSFs) and PTAs, eight of the top 10 schools in per-student additions are non-Title 1 schools: Abernathy, Chapman, Ainsworth, Forest Park, Irvington, Duniway, West Sylvan, Rieke and Stephenson. These schools raised between $273.60 (Stephenson) and $570.03 (Abernathy) per student.

Madison High, with over 65 percent of students qualifying for free or reduced-price meals got no Title 1 money. Benson High, with over 58 percent free and reduced, also got no Title 1 money.

One more example: Ockley Green K-8, with nearly 3 out of 4 students in poverty and 8 out of 10 non-white, got $189.84 per student in Title 1 money, while Ainsworth K-5, with less than six percent on free and reduced lunch and 80 percent white, added over $400 per student. Ainsworth’s teaching staff was increased nearly 33 percent through direct funding by parents.

More importantly, the idea that foundation money would simply supplant Title 1 money is misguided. Title 1 money is provided by the federal government to help ameliorate the problems associated with poverty, and there are very specific guidelines for its use. While foundation dollars reduce class sizes and preserve “enrichments” like certified art and music teachers and advanced college placement programs, Title 1 money is almost entirely spent on academic support (resource rooms, reading teachers, etc.) to help bring disadvantaged students up to grade level .

Even if Title 1 provided the exact same amount of money per student at poor schools as LSF money provides at rich schools, it still wouldn’t be nearly enough to overcome the disadvantages students affected by poverty must overcome, much less be equitable in terms of the kinds of programs schools can afford to provide their students.

2. “…one third of all funds raised goes directly to the Portland Schools Foundation, an umbrella organization that provides grants to close achievement gaps between students throughout the school district. One third to employ educators, a third to enrich our kids and a third to help others. Sounds fair to me.”

When you put it that way, it almost does sound fair. Almost. But there’s a problem with the assumption, and with the math.

First, until this school year, no money from the Portland Schools Foundation’s “Equity Fund” ever paid for a single teaching position at any school. This year, under the leadership of Dan Ryan, schools were finally allowed to spend this money on teaching positions; eight schools were awarded between $20,000 and $55,000. That’s a handful of full-time-equivalent teaching positions for the entire district.

For comparison, in one school year the LSFs at Lincoln High, West Sylvan Middle,  Ainsworth Elementary, Forest Park Elementary, Duniway Elementary and Bridlemile Elementary raised $224,680, $198,878, $193,766, $156,684, $113,187 and $110,005 respectively.

The problem with the math of thirds cited here is that only money used to pay for certified teachers is subject to the Equity Fund contributions, and the first $10,000 is exempt. So, for example, let’s say a school raises $150,000 at their auction, and decides to put $50,000 toward a teaching position. They’ll spend the rest on classroom aides, computers, books for the library, classroom supplies, and an after-school arts program, all of which is fully exempt from Equity Fund contributions.

For the teacher they hire, after the $10,000 exemption, they would tithe 30 percent of $40,000, or $12,000, to the Equity Fund. That’s eight percent of their total funds raised, not a third.

To be clear, nobody should be discouraged from supporting their kids’ school. But the system we have today is grossly unfair. Local school foundations have allowed wealthy neighborhoods to preserve pretty decent “public” schools while the rest of the district fights over crumbs. Dan Ryan is doing what he can to make the system more fair; allowing Equity Fund dollars to pay for teachers was an important first step in that direction.

While I appreciate Ryan’s good work and intentions, I advocate for the abolition of LSFs. Wealthy donors should be encouraged to donate to the district’s general fund and advocate for real, progressive tax reform, so that we can eliminate our two-tiered school system and all students can have access to a comprehensive education.

Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.


PGE, Nike fund anti-tax campaign

Nigel Jaquiss reports in today’s Willamette Week that Nike, PGE and other large Oregon corporations are funneling money to oppose two tax measures on the ballot in January through the Portland Business Alliance and Associated Oregon Industries.

PPS School board director Pam Knowles recently resigned as Chief Operating Officer of Portland Business alliance after five years there.

Nike branding opportunitySchool board co-chair Trudy Sargent sporting the Nike swoosh (photo courtesy Kenneth Libby)

Nike is a long-time corporate partner with PPS, as evidenced by ubiquitous Nike “swooshes” on school district property. Earlier this week, school board members sported Marysville shirts at their meeting to show solidarity with the recently displaced school community. Prominent on the shirts was a Nike logo.

If Nike were serious about supporting schools, they would take a stand for re-balancing corporate and individual taxes in Oregon, skewed against individuals and in favor of corporations for at least 20 years.

But paying taxes doesn’t provide branding opportunities.

Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.


Marysville donations at Schoolhouse Supplies

Schoolhouse Supplies has set up a special account for donations to the Marysville community, who lost their school to a fire yesterday. Donations of cash or supplies are accepted.

Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.


A tale of two cities, continued: last year’s PSF contributors

When school communities raise money to hire certified teachers for their own children, they are required to contribute a portion to a district-wide “equity fund.” The first $10,000 they raise is exempt, but for every dollar above that amount, they must contribute 30 cents. (Money raised and spent for other purposes, like field trips, books, athletics, speakers, after-school enrichment, capital improvements, and non-certified staff is fully exempt.)

Under new rules of the Portland Schools Foundation (PSF), the equity fund is then distributed to schools that lack direct fund-raising capacity, and, as of the current school year, these schools are able use the money to hire certified teachers.

PPS Equity has acquired a list of last year’s contributors to the equity fund, which is to say schools with communities wealthy enough to raise money to pay for extra teaching staff. Here is the list, ordered by level of contribution, highest first:

  1. Lincoln High School
  2. West Sylvan Middle School
  3. Ainsworth Elementary School
  4. Bridlemile Elementary School
  5. Chapman Elementary School
  6. Alameda Elementary School
  7. Laurelhurst K-7 School
  8. StephensonElementary School
  9. Rieke Elementary School
  10. Beverly Cleary K-8 School
  11. Skyline K-8 School
  12. Richmond Elementary School
  13. Glencoe Elementary School
  14. Buckman Elementary School
  15. Cleveland High School
  16. Abernethy Elementary School
  17. Mt. Tabor Middle School
  18. Atkinson Elementary School
  19. Grant High School
  20. Sellwood Middle School
  21. Roseway Heights K-8 School
  22. Llewellyn Elementary School
  23. Maplewood Elementary School
  24. Hosford Middle School
  25. Gray Middle School
  26. Wilson High School
  27. Beaumont Middle School
  28. Duniway Elementary School
  29. Capitol Hill Elementary School
  30. Forest Park Elementary School

Not surprisingly, most of these schools are within the Cleveland, Franklin, Grant, Lincoln and Wilson clusters.

Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.


In the news: foundation announces eligible schools

Nineteen schools are eligible for non-competitive grants under the Portland Schools Foundation’s streamlined formula, reports Jennifer Anderson in the Tribune today.

Under the new rules, these schools will not have to write competitive grants. The will automatically be awarded funds if they submit the proper paperwork along with a school improvement plan.

The eight eligible high schools include: Madison, Benson, Franklin, Roosevelt Campus, Jefferson High School/Young Women’s Academy, Leadership and Entrepreneurship Public Charter High School, and Portland International Community School and Alliance High School (both alternative schools).

The 10 eligible elementary and K-8 schools include: Scott, Woodstock, Lee, Lent, Clarendon-Portsmouth, Clark at Binnsmead, Rigler, Ockley Green, Sitton and Bridger.

One middle school – Beaumont – is eligible for the grants.

Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.


In the news: foundation reforms, Mincberg to depart

The Portland Schools Foundation (PSF) is mostly doing away with its competitive grant program, and will award most of its Equity Fund money based on need. Under the leadership of former PPS school board co-chair Dan Ryan, the foundation will also allow schools to hire teaching staff with the money, something that was not previously allowed.

This is a serious step toward ending the cruel irony of a system that has allowed wealthy families to directly fund teachers at their schools while scattering crumbs across the rest of the district. I and others have been calling for exactly this kind of reform for quite a while.

Dan Ryan deserves kudos for taking this first important step, but let’s go all the way. Eliminate the $10,000 exemption (wealthy schools keep all of the first $10K they raise) and raise the equity contribution to 50% (wealthy schools currently tithe 30% of funds raised). Only when we can hire one teacher in a poor school for every teacher hired with private fund-raising in a wealthy school will the Equity Fund live up to its name.

In other news, PPS COO Cathy Mincberg will leave the district May 15, according to a press release.

Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.


Upcoming Fundraisers for Jefferson, Faubion

Tuesday, April 8th, McMenamin’s Kennedy School (5736 N.E. 33rd Ave.) benefit for Faubion Elementary School.

When you dine in the Courtyard Restaurant between 5pm and midnight, McMenamin’s will donate 50% of the proceeds (from food and drinks) to Faubion PTA

Faubion’s PTA is raising money for a rock-climbing wall and sign board. You gotta eat anyway!

Saturday and Sunday, April 19 and 20, Lloyd Center Barnes & Noble benefit for Jefferson High (including the Young Men’s Academy and the Young Women’s Academy).

Shop from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. both days. Purchase anything in the store – Books, DVDs, Starbucks Coffee and Jefferson will receive a portion of the total sales for the weekend.

Live entertainment provided by our students! Artwork, projects and information on display.

Please print out and bring in this flier (305KB PDF) to make sure your purchases benefit Jefferson High.

Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.


Night Out for Jefferson Senior Class Trip Tonight!

Tonight – Tuesday, March 4 – any time from 5:00 p.m. to closing:

Please Come To the “Jefferson High School Family and Friends Night” at McMenamin’s Chapel Pub, 430 N. Killingsworth Street. Treat yourself and help our graduating Jefferson seniors.

McMenamin’s is generously donating 50% of the evening’s sales to the Jefferson PTSA to help fund the Jefferson Senior Class Trip. Mention to your server that you’re there to support Jefferson.

Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.