My children are presently enrolled at our local public school. It was recently awarded as a National Blue Ribbon Winner for the state of California.
It is three minutes from our home, and there the kids enjoy art, music, gardening, and yoga in addition to the more traditional curriculum. When they get in the car at the end of the day, their collective answer in response to my question of how was your day is a resounding “Awesome!”
I serve on the fundraising board of the school, and that fundraising is a key factor to what makes our school so special. The Los Angeles Unified School District only provides the very basic in funding for teachers, property maintenance, and overall administration. Money for all the “Specials” (art, music, P.E.) as well as the library and teachers aides in the classrooms comes from our fundraising efforts. Having to raise on average an annual $650,000 to keep these programs running.
“public school truly can be an opportunity to think globally, act locally.”
In a school of 520 kids, this is a big task. We fundraise with walk-a-thons, bake sales, and parent-sponsored parties—all to make up for the funds the school district does not provide.
Our community is privileged enough to have parents who have the time, energy, inspiration, and financial ability to commit to making the school great. The very sad truth is that for most public schools, this just isn’t the case. Our country allots on average per state $31,286 for every prisoner (according to the Vera Institute of Justice) and $11, 011 for every public school student (according to the National Center for Education Statistics). This begs a pretty daunting question about our nation’s priorities.
The truth is we must start holding our elected officials accountable to the priority of funding education, so that more schools can offer the enrichment that students so rightly deserve. In the meantime, we must continue to support our public schools through community funding and volunteerism and make a serious and tangible investment in the future—one little school at a time.
In this way, public school truly can be an opportunity to think globally, act locally.
If only they had to have bake sales to fund wars, right?