PTA Fundraising and Student Achievement

“K-12 Education, Pedagogy and Student Achievement” is a representation of hard data that describes PTA fundraising, Title I funding, and student achievement in school District 2 and District 23. Communities are differentiated through their ability to engage fundraising activities that typically benefit students of upper income families but are not pragmatic in lower income communities. The realities of poverty in low income communities that desperately need additional resources, are often thwarted and made impractical by virtue of an economic difference of circumstance between affluent and lower income school communities. Educators A. Wade Boykin and Pedro Noguera, posed a critical concern in their research related to “health, housing and income that minority students are compelled to play catch-up with their affluent white peers” (Noguera 14), regardless of whether they are afforded comparable resources, describing a level of structural racism that under grids the education of low socioeconomic students. There are outliers in District 2 where student achievement is highly successful, however these areas either tend to be highly affluent, or represent schools with excellent pedagogical practices and whose PTA fundraising activities suggests that parents are highly involved and connected to their children’s schools. The upper east and west corridors of District 2 receive minimal amounts of Title I funding (suggesting their higher socioeconomic status), so that fundraising activities were not necessary to adequately fund their schools. Only one of these schools, “PS 198 Isador E. Strauss reported in the 2013-14 school year hosting 53.7% Black and Hispanic students. All other schools in these corridors hosted less than 15.6% Black and Hispanic students” (School Quality Reports – School Accountability Tools – New York City Department of Education).” PS 198 Isador E. Strauss and PS 77 Lower Lab are co-located schools that are categorized as gifted. PS 77 Lower Lab is a stellar performer while PS 198 Isador E. Strauss performed much less favorably during the 2013-14 school year so that the achievement gap between these collocated schools is troubling. The geospatial map is a great tool for visualizing how school entities perform and whether their students overcome the extra burden of poverty. Although the parents of affluent communities could utilize private schools to educate their children, they sometimes opt to send their children to the local public school which is less likely to be burdened with monetary issues and has active PTA organizations. Not surprisingly, students of affluent communities are well prepared to meet expectations of meritocracy that are less assured for minority students, due to the constructs of structural racism that segregates their experiences in impoverished inner city communities. PS 124 Yung Wing and PS 130 Hernando de Soto in Lower Manhattan are outliers as these communities are neither affluent or impoverished. Yet, as recipients of Title I dollars, their successful PTA fundraising campaigns suggests they are close knit communities that may very well receive the support of local businesses and merchant associations as PS 124 Yung Wing’s successful funding raising events netted comparable amounts to the dollars it received in Title I funds. The fortitude of these communities is further evidence that the levels of achievement at each of these schools is competitive with schools in the upper east side of Manhattan. Appendix A illustrates the notion that schools can under-achieve even though they receive Title I funding and have relatively successful fundraising campaigns as occurred at Yorkville Community School. It is also plausible that schools can be relatively self-sufficient as is the case at PS 6 Lillie D. Blake which did not receive Title I funding but hosted largely successful fundraising campaigns. PS 11 William T. Harris and Battery Park City received minimal amounts of Title I funding so that they were compelled to host fundraising activities. However, neither of these schools are stellar performers which support the argument that although parents should raise needed resources when they are able to do so, it is pedagogy that provides the means for students to engage learning. When pedagogy is restricted through punitive methodologies students are ill-affected because their opportunities to gain educational equity dwindle as they reach maturity. Appendix B provides a stark contrast as District 23 is highly funded via Title I dollars, indicating the presence of poverty, which is evidenced by lackluster PTA fundraising results and dismal student achievement throughout the District. One could only conclude that these students are not gaining crucial skillsets to meet the demands of higher education or to enter job markets, nor are they being prepared to undertake civic responsibility.

Educators Duncan-Andrade and Morrell argue that schools are largely responsible for the success or failure of students because a “de facto socio-economic sorting mechanism is inherent through inequitable conditions that determine, the economic futures” (Duncan-Andrade and Morrell 2) of young minority students. I argue that education must be restructured to disentangle ideals of meritocracy so that minority students can compete without being bounded by inferior levels of literacy. Students of affluent communities enjoy ongoing critical practice and benefit from subsequent higher levels of education equity and potential advancement into higher education. Although all students should have opportunities to pursue and continue higher education, the concern is that for those who do not, unless they receive job training, their career and employment options become limited. It is also true that for this group, outcomes could mean that they will remain at the lower rungs of social and financial economies as argued by Political Economist and Associate Professor Gordon Lafer, “there is little evidence that adult skills training alone will have a strong impact on poverty rates or income inequality” (Stanley 722). Given additional hardships that can be untenable, young students who struggle with additional burdens caused by poverty could find it more challenging to meet the imperatives of obtaining a solid education.