The Seattle Public Schools District has a huge opportunity gap between white students and students of color: the worst in the state, and the fifth worst in the nation. Despite the District’s efforts to address these gaps, they persist, and in many cases are actually widening.
This is not a problem of a few bad actors or malicious intent; it is a systemic issue. We have to transform the systems that continually reinforce unequal access to opportunity.
While many historical and continuing factors contribute to this gaping disparity, one growing factor is parent-led fundraising. National studies consistently show that parent-led funds increasingly contribute to student opportunity gaps because “the concentration of these dollars in affluent schools results in considerable advantages for a small portion of already advantaged students.”
Wealthy PTAs in Seattle raise and spend upwards of $1000 per student. These funds are completely flexible and are used to pay the salaries of teachers, counselors, specialists, and support staff. Meanwhile, some parent-teacher orgs are able to raise a only small fraction of these dollars. Some schools have no PTA.