When I was pregnant with my first child, we bought a house in our old high school's neighborhood, so I already know what I'm in for: a life of raising money for the school, which has long used the parent groups to fund programs the district wouldn't. I also already know many of the ways my money will be used, as I've been involved on the receiving end too; as a volunteer track coach, my "salary" was paid out of booster club funds. The district's budget would only pay for two assistants if fewer than 50 athletes took the field, and it's difficult to coach a dozen different events with only three staffers. The booster club paid me a stipend to help out with the high jump and hurdles, events that really require a specialized approach.

Recession Watch Around the Globe

    **FILE** In this May 2, 2008 file photo, a shopper walks from the Linens n Things store at the Woodbridge Crossing shopping center in Woodbridge, N.J. With the credit freeze pushing landlords toward foreclosure and a recession eroding rents and occupancy, owners of commercial property are in for a rough ride for 2009. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

    AP

    A man walks past a store that calls itself a 'Recession Buster Outlet' in Manchester, northern England, January 2, 2009. The credit squeeze for British families and businesses looks set to intensify into 2009 despite unprecedented measures to recapitalise the banking system and get lending flowing again, a survey showed on Friday. REUTERS/Phil Noble (BRITAIN)

    Reuters

    People walk past a store calling itself a 'Recession Buster Outlet' in Manchester, northern England, January 2, 2009. The credit squeeze for British families and businesses looks set to intensify into 2009 despite unprecedented measures to recapitalise the banking system and get lending flowing again, a survey showed on Friday. REUTERS/Phil Noble (BRITAIN)

    Reuters

    Employees of Hyundai Motor take part in a ceremony to mark the new year at the company headquarters in Seoul January 2, 2009. South Korean automakers' combined sales in December fell from a year ago, data showed on Friday, adding more concerns over the slowing world's car demand on a global recession and the financial crisis. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak (SOUTH KOREA)

    Reuters

    Employees of Hyundai Motor take part in a ceremony to mark the new year at the company headquarters in Seoul January 2, 2009. South Korean automakers' combined sales in December fell from a year ago, data showed on Friday, adding more concerns over the slowing world's car demand on a global recession and the financial crisis. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak (SOUTH KOREA)

    Reuters

    Employees of Hyundai Motor walk past its car I30 CW displayed on a lobby at the company headquarters in Seoul January 2, 2009. South Korean automakers' combined sales in December fell from a year ago, data showed on Friday, adding more concerns over the slowing world's car demand on a global recession and the financial crisis. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak (SOUTH KOREA)

    Reuters

    Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong-koo waits for his turn to speak in front of a company flag (L) and a South Korean national flag during a ceremony to mark the new year at the company headquarters in Seoul January 2, 2009. South Korean automakers' combined sales in December fell from a year ago, data showed on Friday, adding more concerns over the slowing world's car demand on a global recession and the financial crisis. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak (SOUTH KOREA)

    Reuters

    Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong-koo arrives for a new year speech to employees during a ceremony to mark the new year at the company headquarters in Seoul January 2, 2009. South Korean automakers' combined sales in December fell from a year ago, data showed on Friday, adding more concerns over the slowing world's car demand on a global recession and the financial crisis. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak (SOUTH KOREA)

    Reuters

    Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong-koo speaks during a ceremony to mark the new year at the company headquarters in Seoul January 2, 2009. South Korean automakers' combined sales in December fell from a year ago, data showed on Friday, adding more concerns over the slowing world's car demand on a global recession and the financial crisis. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak (SOUTH KOREA)

    Reuters

    ** FILE ** In this April 3, 2008 file photo, two ATA Airlines planes are shown idle at Oakland International Airport in Oakland, Calif. ATA Airlines and other other names vanished this year, victims of the economy, the financial meltdown or other factors. Experts say 2009 could mark the end of even more brands as the now year-long recession puts more struggling companies on life-support. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, file)

    AP



In a Wall Street Journal article today, proof that my local high school is not alone in asking parents to pony up to help out with budgetary restrictions and falling school incomes. And they're going deeper than craft supplies, uniforms and high jump coaches and paying for school staples, such as school books, dictionaries, and teachers' assistant pay. Naturally, critics worry this creates inequities (and this is a huge discussion point in my city); students at schools with involved, upper-income parents end up getting far richer classroom experiences than those with lower-income parents and those whose commitments prevent them from becoming involved.

It's nowhere more clear than at my oldest son's school for children whose behavioral and learning issues require that they be isolate from the general education population. Most of the parents are so exhausted from parenting a special-needs child that they don't have the bandwidth to even join the PTA, let alone spend a lot of effort raising funds for the school. So the kindergarten teachers' longing to start a school garden -- a project that would require major parent fundraising to (ahem) get off the ground -- is all dream unless I somehow manage to find the time and passion for the program.

Have you been asked to provide funds for something you think should be part of the school's budget as a matter of course? Have revenue shortfalls made unusual holes in your school's programs? Do you see inequities in your district's parent groups? It's a big problem that, in a recession, can only be getting bigger.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Getting out of debt

Everyone hates debt. Get out of it.

View Course »

How to Avoid Financial Scams

Avoid getting duped by financial scams.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum