June 15, 2017

Maia Cucchiara, (215) 204-2743, maia.cucchiara@temple.edu
Daniel J. Quinn, (517) 203-2940, dquinn@greatlakescenter.org

Promising report on private fundraising by parent groups only scratches the surface of inequality, review finds

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Jun. 15, 2017) — A report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) investigated private fundraising by parent groups, a source of inequality in education that receives scant attention. The report called on district leaders to take actions to address funding disparities between wealthy and low-income schools. An academic review of the report finds the report's findings about the scope and beneficiaries of private fundraising are credible and important.

Maia Cucchiara, Temple University, reviewed the report, Hidden Money: The Outsized Role of Parent Contributions in School Finance, for the Think Twice think tank review project. Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), is funded in part by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The report found that while affluent students receive additional funding for additional resources from parent groups, low-income students (disproportionately children of color) must spend public dollars to obtain the same resources.

Cucchiara, in her review, finds the report to be worthwhile, but finds fault with the report's focus on a small number of schools and districts. She adds that the report fails to provide school and community context, and the case study design limited the report's overall relevance.

In her conclusion, Cucchiara says: "Many of the report's recommendations are quite promising. However, it is important to remember that privately raised funds comprise only a minor part of education spending, and that the true sources of educational inequality are structural factors (such as differences in property values, insufficient state aid, and concentrated poverty), rather than the actions of individual parents."

Find the review on the GLC website:

Find the original report on the web:

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policymakers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The review can also be found on the NEPC website:

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The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

Visit the Great Lakes Center website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/