Here’s a crazy idea. Why don’t you take, say, half of what you were going to give away in donations this year and direct it to your local public school?
It is interesting how we freely give money to all number of charitable causes, but we never think to support the public institution that most directly contributes to the well-being of our children and, by extension, our society at large. This is likely because we have convinced ourselves that it is enough to be third-party benefactors of public education by way of the school taxes that we pay.
When it comes to sustaining schools, this way of thinking is all well and good. Our tax system remains the most stable, equitable and appropriate way to support public education. It is not something we should ever undermine.
But are there not local opportunities and initiatives that might be able to emerge as the result of additional financial support -- particularly those initiatives aimed at improving or extending what we do in schools?
I spent a good portion of my career working in independent schools in Canada, and I was continually struck by the willingness of parents to support us -- to the extent that they were able -- in the various projects we undertook. This was, of course, over and above the regular tuition fees we charged them.
I think we sometimes underestimate the importance of inviting people to participate in an initiative that is worth doing. Independent schools are often able to build a strong sense of community because everyone has some skin in the game. I see no reason why that same ethic might not be transferred to public education. Given the huge number of families and community members affected, even very modest donations could create a catalyst for significant change. There is only one way to find out.