Private Giving to Public Schools and Districts in Los Angeles County: A Pilot Study

By Ron Zimmer; Cathy Krop et al. | Go to book overview

1.
Introduction

The nation's public schools have been under attack for much of the past three decades. A common criticism is that their performance, as measured by students' standardized test scores, has been stagnant or declining. At the same time, schools have failed to close the gap in achievement between the lowest- and highest-performing students. These developments have occurred despite the increase in resources given to public schools and attempts to allocate those resources more equitably.

Real per-pupil expenditures nationwide increased from $1,973 to $6,146 between 1960 and 1996 (National Center for Education Statistics, 1999). In addition, since the 1970s, more than 34 states have faced legal challenges to their school funding systems in an effort to achieve greater equity in the distribution of education dollars (Dayton, 2000). Policymakers at the state level across the country have responded to these legal challenges by moving away from the traditional dependence on local property taxes for school funding toward greater dependence on state support.1

Reforms in governance and finance have made raising private support an impor­ tant activity of many public schools and school districts. A major wave of educa­ tion reform over the past decade calls for improving the quality of education nationwide through changes in the governance structures of educational systems. This movement, which includes site-based management and charter school re­ forms, decentralizes public education decisionmaking to more-local levels of con­ trol. The governance reforms are based on the concept that education can be im­ proved by allowing those closest to students to make policy decisions based on the characteristics of the local community.2

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1
Most of the efforts at equalizing funding have focused on equalizing funding across districts in a state. Some more-recent efforts have focused on equalizing funding across schools in a district. For example, the Rodriguez consent degree operating in the Los Angeles Unified School District seeks to equalize educational opportunities across schools within the district.
2
During the twentieth century, structural changes occurred in education provision that weakened the relationship between public schools and their local communities. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, budgets became tight and school districts and states began to look for ways to cut costs. One mechanism for cutting costs was the consolidation of public school districts (Pugh, 1994). For example, between 1940 and 1950, the number of school districts in the country dropped from 117,108 to 83,718. This trend continued, although at a slower pace, through the second half of the twentieth century, with the number of school districts nationwide dropping to just under 15,000 by 1997.

-1-

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Private Giving to Public Schools and Districts in Los Angeles County: A Pilot Study
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables vii
  • Summary ix
  • Acknowledgments xix
  • Acronyms xxi
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - What We Currently Know about Private Support of Public Education 7
  • 3 - Research Methodology 25
  • 4 - The Who, How, and What of Private Giving 35
  • 5 - Lessons Learned from This Study 67
  • A - School Principal Interview Protocol 77
  • B - District Interview Protocol 81
  • C - Local Education Foundation Interview 85
  • D - Study Results on Local Education Foundations 87
  • E - Source Citations for the Private-Giving Matrix 93
  • Bibliography 99
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