Updated: Small Ways to Help Philadelphia School District (or any school)
SEE UPDATES BELOW: ORIGINAL POST FROM JUNE 2013
Philadelphia public school are back in session and it is a mess.
When we watched the doomsday budget pass in May we didn’t really think it would go this far. But do to political nonsense and the incredible ineptitude of both state and local government officials, we now have an unprecedented stripping of basic education services including guidance counselors, arts, music, vice principals, and even school nurses. The school district has long been the subject of underfunding, wasteful spending, and corrupt mismanagement, but the current situation is more dire than anything that has been seen on a national level.
As a parent with intentions of sending my children to the local public elementary, I feel angry, depressed, and most of all helpless. I know that thousands of other parents and community members join me in this feeling of helplessness, especially as the strong protests and petitions have gone unheard.But no matter what happens next our fight is far from over. We have strong advocates across the city and state working hard to improve this dire situation but we have to continue to do everything in our power to show our support for public education. Whether or not we send our children to these schools, public education is the backbone to educating thousands of children in our city and preparing them to be productive members of society. Lack of decent public education will drive families and businesses outside of the city and turn it into, well, Detroit.
Is it sad and pathetic that the city is asking citizens to crowdfund our school supplies? Yes. But at least it is something we can do.The fund is administered by the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey and money collected through their website.
Here are just a few other things you can do to help – all of these are simple and most don’t cost a penny!
Follow and support these influential organizations petitioning the state and city for funding:
Education Voters of Pennsylvania (includes calls to action, updates, and an advocacy toolkit)
Education Law Center – advocating for special education needs
Simple Fundraising Efforts:
1. Donate books to stock libraries: The Charles Santore Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia, 932 S. Seventh St., is accepting gently used children’s books of all levels during library hours through Sept. 30. The items will be dispersed to teachers at local public schools to help to create classroom libraries. You can also donate books year-round to the Philadelphia Reads Book Bank for classroom libraries. NEW - A Mighty Book Drive by Mighty Writers. Collecting books for ages 7-17.
2. Box Tops for Education and Labels for Education both allow you to collect labels from products you already buy to earn money for your school. True, if you are an organic shopper you may not find much, but we buy a ton of Cascadian Farms granola and can tell you they are an organic Box Top brand. You can also earn extra points shopping online and connecting to your social media accounts. Ten cents a label may not seem like much, but remember some of these schools can’t even afford paper. Save up $50 and make a significant difference.
3. Have a Target REDCard? Choose any eligible K-12 school, and they’ll donate 1% of your REDcard purchases at Target.
4. Are you a Giant Supermarket shopper? The A+ School Rewards Program is closed for the 2013 school year but will likely renew next year and allow you to sync your frequent shopper card to earn money for your school.
5. Recycle Bank has a Green Schools Program where you can donate your points to fund projects at local schools. The program is closed for this year but will reopen in the fall.
6. Donate goods and services to local school fundraisers. Schools are always holding events with auctions and raffles and count on the support of local business owners.
7. Donate supplies. Did you get offered a free ream of paper with your Staples order or a complimentary printer with your new laptop? Consider donating to your local school. Many schools also post “wish lists” to Amazon. Here is an example from my local public school. You can also browse a list the huge list of funding requests for local schools on DonorsChoose.org, which offers mini-Kickstarter-style campaigns for school supplies and projects.
If you can, please consider sending your kids to public school. Look, if someone offered me an extra 20K per year or if I won the 1/500 chance of getting into the good nearby charter school I am sure I would take it. But consider all the benefits of staying where you are and working with other local parents and teachers to build a better local public school. I’ve seen amazing things from local parent associations working to revive and improve their local schools. And contributing time and funding to public school will certainly cost you less than private schools, which are certainly not always perfect despite the hefty price tag.
Here are some other ways you can volunteer your time to improve schools: http://www.greatschools.org/improvement/volunteering/19-easy-ways-to-help.gs
Are there any ideas you would like to add?