New data on the money parent-teacher associations raised at every city school last year reveals vast racial inequities in the access children have to extracurricular resources, a Daily News analysis shows.
The median white student attended a school that raised about $65 per student last year, while the median black student went to a school that collected about $4 per student from parents, the analysis found.
The data, which the City Council required the Education Department to collect, was published in full for the first time Monday.
PTA fundraising has long been recognized as a source of inequality in the city school system. Wealthy schools can raise more than a million dollars per year to pay for extra-curriculars and supplies. Schools with lower-income families can struggle to raise anything.
But the new data paints a vivid picture of the imbalances.
The News analysis found the median Latino student went to a school that raised about $7 per student last year; the median Asian student attended a school that collected around $29 per student.
The data includes some big caveats. PTAs self-reported the numbers, which included the amount raised during the 2018-19 school year, along with the amount spent. Education Department officials said they haven’t audited the numbers and couldn’t vouch for their accuracy.
There were 237 schools that didn’t report any numbers at all, and other numbers appeared clearly out of whack: One school reported raising $76 million, and others reported raising amounts out of sync with the quantity they spent.
The News did not include in the analysis schools that did not report numbers.
But there are some clear takeaways: White students are clustered in schools with access to higher-earning parents, while black students are disproportionately in schools without access to heavy parent funding.
The median white student attends a school that raises twice as much as the median Asian student, and 16 times as much as the median black student, the analysis shows. Schools at the top of the spectrum raised thousands of dollars per student while almost 400 schools reported raising nothing at all.
Council Member Mark Treyger (D – Brooklyn) said “this data unfortunately validates my concern that your zip code does very much determine the opportunities you receive in schools.”
Although PTA funds can’t be used to pay for core teachers, they can help cover enrichment programs like music and art, assistant teachers, and afterschool programs.
Treyger has proposed that the Education Department contribute a baseline amount to each school. Others have floated the possibility of PTAs sharing funds or contributing to a common pool.
He added that the inconsistencies and gaps in the data showed the Education Department needs a better system for collecting and vetting PTA fundraising numbers.
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said, “We are thankful for and greatly value these contributions, but in some instances, and without clear intent, these systems can also perpetuate or exacerbate disparities in opportunities for students.”