The Issue

The Seattle Public Schools District has a huge opportunity gap between white students and students of color: the worst in the state, and the fifth worst in the nation. Despite the District’s efforts to address these gaps, they persist, and in many cases are actually widening.

While many historical and continuing factors contribute to this gaping disparity, one growing factor is PTA fundraising. National studies have shown that money raised by PTAs increasingly contributes to student opportunity gaps, because “the concentration of these dollars in affluent schools results in considerable advantages for a small portion of already advantaged students.”

Wealthy PTAs in Seattle raise and spend upwards of $1000 per student. These funds are completely flexible and are used to pay the salaries of teachers, counselors, specialists, and support staff. Meanwhile, PTAs serving schools with lower income students of color are able to raise a only small fraction of these dollars. Some low opportunity schools have no PTA.