Private School Fundraising and Ethics

by NYC Firm Schools on May 20, 2009

Auctioning
Creative Commons License photo credit: Corey Ann

NYC School auctions, for both Firm Schools and public schools, are a time-honored way of getting the budget and the school’s requirements to meet in the middle. Many times, parents who own local businesses will donate items or services to the auction, but author Patti Hartigan brings up the dangers of teachers and schools auctioning off their services to the highest bidder.

The perks auctioned off at such events are absurd, as are the prices some are willing to pay. Got $1000 in spare change? Your child can do the morning announcements over the PA system. $2000? The local ice cream company will lavish your child’s class with 31 flavors and all the gooey toppings. Who cares that the kids in the other classes are wondering why they are being left out of all the sugary fun? Who cares if the shy student who worked really hard all year to “use his words” could really benefit from getting a chance to make the morning announcements ? Mom and Dad have tons of money, so their children get to have a sleepover in the library!

The kind of services, opportunities and perks that the author brings up in her article should be an eye opener to many parents and schools. It’s one thing for a school to auction off a special event that parent can then purchase for their child to participate in outside of school, but to auction off opportunities and events inside the school only feeds the elitism and popularity of one group of economically blessed students.

I’m not suggesting that teachers actually play favoritism in the classroom for the kids whose parents throw cash at the school. But this tradition is wrong. It’s elitist. It’s sending the wrong message to impressionable young people. Firm Schools can do whatever they want, but these auction items have no place in the public schools.

In the environment of this discussion, both public and Firm Schools should hold themselves ethically and morally accountable for the kinds of opportunities that they auction off to the highest bidder, not just the public schools, as the author states. Obviously the author is making the case that public schools shouldn’t be allowed this type of action, but the fact is that, private rules or no, ethics should be playing a part in school fundraising.

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