February 7, 2010

How much would you pay to talk to the superintendent?

Should Money Buy You Privileged Access to a Public School System?

Schoolhouse In Palo Alto it does. Give Palo Alto Partners in Education — the district-wide foundation that supports all schools in the Palo Alto Unified School District — $2,500 and you get priority notification about middle and high school tours along with an invitation to a cocktail party with other wealthy donors to the district.

Give $5,000 and you get the same privileged access to information and the same exclusive chance to network with the community’s financial elite, plus an invite to a "special group event with the PAUSD superintendent."

Give over $10,000 and you get all the above, and an "invitation to individual discussion with PAUSD superintendent."

The message here is clear: in Palo Alto wealth buys differentiated access to the Superintendent of a public school district, membership of an inner ‘circle’ of local influencers and priority over the less well-off in visiting publicly-owned facilities.

Thanks to Burbed reader Herve for this find. A great post on SVMoms!

Personally I think this is a great idea. Let’s face it, we live in a market driven economy. Not a planned, socialist economy. It makes sense that if you invest more in your children, you will get better results. I don’t think there should be any outrage here.

Personally, I think you should be able to buy your grades, and even college acceptances – but let’s just start at buying good teachers and principals, without having to be all flashy and sending your kids to private school.

What? You don’t agree?

I’m tagging this post with the “Bay Area Schools” category. I’d appreciate it if you could help me find some older posts that should also get this tag.

Comments (41) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:52 am

41 Responses to “How much would you pay to talk to the superintendent?”

  1. Lisa Says:

    Cupertino schools may have 30-1 student teacher ratio…

    Where will my child go to school Cupertino school district

    And my favorite:

    How much is your school’s suggested donation part-2

  2. ehem Says:

    Actually in all fairness if you bought your house before 1980, you should get a foot-rub from the superintendent for $450, and if you moved here in 2002+, you should be allowed to give him a foot-rub for $9000. It’s the 1-20 rule, ie those born after you bought your house pay 20x what you pay for something shittier.

  3. BuyersAreIdiots Says:

    you should be allowed to give him a foot-rub for $9000

    A foot-rub if you’re lucky!! ;-)

  4. nomadic Says:

    ehem, nice post. LOL! You’ve distilled Prop 13 quite nicely.

  5. Herve Estater Says:

    More discussion here.

  6. Pralay Says:

    $2,500 and you get priority notification about middle and high school tours along with an invitation to a cocktail party with other wealthy donors to the district.
    —–

    Ahem, does that mean that RealEstater is not getting any of these from this non-profit charity? What a waste of a $1500 check!

  7. burbed Says:

    Thanks for the assistance Lisa!

  8. SmilingCat Says:

    That sounds illegal as hell. Major story, has anyone contacted the media?

  9. Pralay Says:

    Re #5:

    My favorite -

    By the way – I found it INCREDIBLY obnoxious the way parents rallied for PIE donations at our school. They SHAMED families in to donating. Kids were holding signs and asking parents as they walked in to donate. Actually, the word obnoxious is an understatement. It actually turned me OFF to donating (and I have donated most years, when I could).

    I wonder what those signs kids holding. “Cocktail party: the secret of your children’s education”?

  10. nomadic Says:

    Seems to me, the truly pretentious will live in a top school district and then send their kids to a private school.

    These PIE people are just wannabes.

  11. zanon Says:

    LOL!

    Excellent nomadic!

    And I like prop 13. It’s what keeps my rent so low ; )

  12. CB Says:

    No sympathy from me.

    Most of these parents paid a premium for a home in the district for the explicit advantage of sending their children to a highly rated PA school, and now they are “shocked” that other parents are willing to pay even more than them? These people’s financial status is the only reason their child is in the district in the first place, they better get used to the fact that there are families who are even better equipped to buy their child’s future.

  13. bob Says:

    The people that paid a cool mil to live in a so-so house PA just to have their kids go to the schools there aren’t exactly geniuses in my opinion anyway.

  14. Pralay Says:

    LOL! CB you are too straight-forward.

  15. Real Estater Says:

    LOL. Pra-lay, you are too straight-backward t-o-o.

  16. Alex Says:

    LOL` Faux Estater, you are too retarded.

  17. anon Says:

    Too retarded to LOOOOSE! lol

  18. anon Says:

    retardester?

  19. Real Estater Says:

    All,

    The stock market is obviously oversold. It has nowhere to go but up right now.

  20. nomadic Says:

    The stock market is obviously oversold. It has nowhere to go but up right now.

    Unless it goes down. Depends whether all of that sovereign debt becomes a headache like sub-prime mortgages.

  21. Herve Estater Says:

    Palo Alto school cuts to raise class sizes, but no pink slips planned

    [Palo Alto Partners in Education] reported Tuesday that donations are up, enabling it to donate some $2.9 million next year, up from $2.57 million this year.

  22. Herve Estater Says:

    You have to love Palo Alto tourism effort:

    Council members lauded the $240,000-a-year “Destination Palo Alto” program as a huge success and an important boost to their city’s ongoing effort to attract more visitors.

    According to a new staff report, the Convention and Visitors Bureau had booked 9,900 hotel rooms in Palo Alto in fiscal year 2009 and expects to book 12,000 hotel rooms by the end of this fiscal year, which ends June 30. These bookings brought the city an estimated $187,061 in hotel-tax and sales-tax revenues in fiscal year 2009 and are projected to bring in $225,741 in the current fiscal year, the staff reported.

  23. nomadic Says:

    Sounds like an awesome plan, Herve. Spend $240k to get $187k in tax revenue… I’m surprised they couldn’t do better though – after all, such a choice part of the RBA is like Disneyland.

  24. nomadic Says:

    A couple of things I’ve run across regarding taxes and school funding recently:

    - my school district is trying to get a new parcel tax on an upcoming ballot. Just $95/year so not a big deal. But the truly appalling thing is that anyone over 65 can file to be exempted from it. Appalling for two reasons: 1) they can vote for it but not pay it; and 2) they already pay 1/10 the taxes of most residents thanks to Prop 13.

    - my friend, who is a realtor in a prime RBA city, says the school system extorts requests a donation of $500 out of each realtor each year so they can tag their office’s sign with a plaque that says they support local schools. I guess that isn’t as heavy-handed as what parents get subjected to, but still came as a surprise to me.

  25. Herve Estater Says:

    > Spend $240k to get $187k in tax revenue.

    To be fair the city would also benefit from revenues from restaurants and stores, although I doubt it would be enough to say it was a huge success.

  26. steve Says:

    my friend, who is a realtor in a prime RBA city, says the school system extorts requests a donation of $500 out of each realtor each year so they can tag their office’s sign with a plaque that says they support local schools.

    this is genius on so many levels. consider this stylized example: crappy belmont house sells for $900K; crappy san carlos house sells for $1.2M. biggest difference: the k-8 schools, a gap that will grow wider as california’s budget problems worsen and private schools become more expensive. the delta per transaction for the san carlos listing agent (and firm) compared to the belmont real estate expert (and firm) is $7500.

  27. Real Estater Says:

    nomadic,

    Sounds like you don’t support parcel tax? Why bother living in a good school district if you don’t care to maintain it? We love our parcel tax in Palo Alto.

  28. Herve Estater Says:

    > my school district is trying to get a new parcel tax on an upcoming ballot

    See available exemptions here (scroll down).

    Exemptions based on income? Nope.
    Exemptions based on age and disability? Yes.
    Exemption based on the fact that you own several contiguous parcels? Yes.

  29. DreamT Says:

    since the purpose of the parcel tax is to “Retaining skilled and qualified teachers”, shouldn’t teachers be exempt?

  30. Herve Estater Says:

    Teachers don’t own homes in Los Gatos or Monte Sereno.

  31. nomadic Says:

    Whether or not I personally support a parcel tax is immaterial to my comment. Your question would be appropriate for the senior citizens, however. I imagine they supported the schools when their kids attended and now they don’t really give a crap. What’s another few points of appreciation when you’ve doubled or tripled your investment over 30 years and your heirs will cash in?

  32. nomadic Says:

    Looking at the graph on Herve’s link reminds me of an interesting statistic about the Mayo Clinic. It’s arguably one of the very best medical centers in the nation, but its spending per patient is one of the lowest in the nation. The areas with the highest spending have the lowest quality of care.

  33. DreamT Says:

    Herve – Teachers don’t exist!

  34. Herve Estater Says:

    Mayo clinic article here.

  35. Herve Estater Says:

    > Teachers don’t exist!

    They do exist, but it’s not like they contribute much to society. More important than teachers is the amount of money parents donate to their children’s schools.

  36. nomadic Says:

    Herve, you make a splendid secretary! :-)

  37. nomadic Says:

    (and I’m lazy today. Too lazy to provide references.)

  38. DreamT Says:

    Yes Herve, spoken like a true Secretary!

  39. steve Says:

    nomadic, herve – one of the best new yorker articles from last year. not quite “egg men” quality, but that level of genius has been rare since mr shawn was forced out.

  40. average high school donation | Burbed.com Says:

    [...] question! I think the average in the Bay Area ranges from $250-$10,000. It’s a function of how much you care about your child’s education, and how much you care about [...]

  41. bay area schools lottery [Burbed.com] Says:

    [...] You’re guaranteed to get back a huge reward on your investment – even if you need to bring $2000-$10,000 in cash to class. Your child will go to Stanford, and then booom start the next [...]


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