Date of Award

2022

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, Ed.D.

Department

Education

First Advisor

Dr. Julie Kalnin

Second Advisor

Dr. Hillary Merk

Third Advisor

Dr. Benjamin Gallegos

LC Subjects

Educational fund raising; Urban schools--Finance; Urban schools--Sociological aspects; Public schools--United States--Finance; Racial justice

Abstract

The purpose of this mixed-methods case study was to explore whether an urban public school district’s longstanding policy requiring the redistribution of a portion of parent financial contributions resulted in the equitable distribution of fundraising dollars. Additionally, the study investigated how parents in the district perceived the impacts of this policy, and whether those perceptions differed based on how much fundraising was done in their schools or based on participant demographics.

Using public datasets including annual fundraising dollars and school demographic information, correlational analysis determined that there was a statistically significant relationship (p < .001) between school racial and socioeconomic demographics and the amount of dollars allocated both before and after the distribution of “equity grants” to qualifying schools. Next, 238 parents from 52 of the district’s 57 elementary schools reported their attitudes about the policy and its impacts through a voluntary online survey. Results were disaggregated to determine whether attitudes differed by race or by the level of fundraising occurring in participants’ schools. Chi-square analysis revealed statistically significant differences (p < .05) in parent positions on specific elements of the policy such as how much schools should be required to share or the role of fundraising dollars in paying for teachers, but overall attitudes about the policy were aligned with the expected distributions based on race or level of fundraising. Qualitative analysis of the single open-ended survey question along with the interview responses also revealed thematic differences, with parents from low fundraising schools reporting more negative attitudes than other groups and White parents reporting more negative attitudes than BIPOC parents. Finally, interview participants were shown the quantitative analysis of the financial distribution data and asked to respond. Magnitude coding was used to identify shifts in the direction or intensity of interview participants’ attitudes about the policy. This analysis revealed that parents who initially thought the policy was having an equitable impact due to its redistribution requirement shifted to a negative or more complex view of the policy’s impacts after viewing the financial data.

Results of this study have implications for policy. While the results show that a policy requiring a redistribution of only a portion of fundraising dollars was not sufficient to disrupt the national trend of concentrated financial contributions in the schools serving the most White students and the fewest economically disadvantaged students, the study also provided evidence that most participants support sharing even more in order to achieve equitable outcomes. Additionally, when parents who supported the redistribution policy saw the actual distribution of dollars, they no longer thought that the policy was having the intended impact. This finding suggests that transparency and accessible information about inequitable outcomes may be key in building parent support for equity reforms.

Comments

Copyright retained by the author.

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