Podcast | These Seattle parents aim to fix school fundraising

PTSAs can reduce resource gaps, but also exacerbate inequities among schools. Reporter Venice Buhain shares local efforts to change that.

Volunteer Eleanore Mali helps children at the stacking cups station

Volunteer Eleanore Mali helps children at the cup-stacking station during the Parent Teacher Association’s Move-a-Thon Bingo Board event at Wing Luke Elementary on Thursday, March 9, 2023. (Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)

Seattle public schools, like most public schools, don’t all have the same resources to offer students. And they tend to rely on parent-led fundraising to fill in the gaps. But that can exacerbate the inequities that already exist, as wealthy families can often afford to donate the money and time that low-income families can’t.

Crosscut associate news editor Venice Buhain recently dug into this issue in Seattle, exploring why these fundraising efforts, run by Parent Teacher Student Associations (PTSAs), have recently come under scrutiny.  Some parents and advocates now hope to change the paradigm altogether.

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For this episode of Crosscut Reports, host Sara Bernard talks with Buhain about what these parents are doing to make PTSA-based fundraising more equitable, with the goal of reducing the schools’ significant disparities in staffing and supplies.

Some local PTSAs, for instance, have begun pooling resources and distributing raised funds among schools in their neighborhoods — and questioning why parent groups are relied on for fundraising in the first place.


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