Is Portland’s tradition of parent fundraising to add teachers at their child’s school near an end? –

Portland Public Schools parents will no longer be able to raise money to add educators at their own children’s schools, under a proposal that the district’s school board is poised to approve.

The proposed policy, developed after years of heated back-and-forth, centers on the money raised by independent and affiliated foundations at just over half of the district’s 81 schools, which totaled $2.5 million in 2022-2023. It would discontinue a decades-long tradition of parents at some schools raising thousands of dollars from school auctions and the like to hire extra teachers for their children’s classrooms.

Under the new plan, which has fervent backing from influential school board member and Multnomah County Commissioner Julia Brim-Edwards, schools are encouraged to register with the district if they raise $20,000 or more and any money intended for staff positions must be contributed to a districtwide foundation.

Under the current system, parents at any school may raise as much as they are able, via jog-a-thons, pledge drives and auctions, and the money can be spent on staff as their principals see fit.

The only caveat is that a third of whatever they raise above $10,000 must be shared with other schools.

Schools that have been able to raise more than $10,000 have wound up getting to keep anywhere between an extra few thousand dollars and north of $200,000 in recent years. Schools that raised the most in 2022 include Lincoln High School and Duniway and Ainsworth elementaries.

Meanwhile, grants from the shared pot, awarded to schools with the highest needs, topped out at $21,000.

Parent-raised money has offset the cost of about 100 educators and support staff throughout a subset of the districts school’s, though for the majority of those employees, it makes up only a small fraction of their salary. There are 27 school employees whose salaries were funded at least 50% or more by foundation dollars, according to district data.

So rich parents who want to support their local public schools will be foreclosed from helping because the Portland School District wants to control the money. Explain to me why rich parents will keep their kids in public schools? 

(This is “equity” in action: Everybody must suffer equally, so the bar must be set at the lowest possible rung.)