Parents of students enrolled in Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Polk County, Florida got an orientation package offering their kids the right to skip to the front of the lunch line in exchange for a $100 donation to the Parent-Teacher-Student Alliance.
The school says that the offer was sent by mistake: the program had been considered as one of many "new and innovative fundraising ideas to enhance the school experience for our students" but discarded, and should not have been included with the letter.
But of course, if you believe in the cult of market, this is a totally reasonable offer. If the "marginal utility" to rich parents sends a flurry of $100 bills to the school, then the school can invest its "prosperity" and the rising tide will float all boats.
The fact that this is a regressive tax (costing a disproportionate fraction of poor families' discretionary funds, and a smaller fraction of wealthier families' funds) is irrelevant. The rich families are rich because they are "job creators" whose time is worth more than poor families, who are "takers." So by freeing the wealthy to enjoy their lunch, play, and learning, we encourage the creation of more "prosperity" that can trickle down to the poor kids.
So the PTSA could invest this money in books for the library! And then they could create a "front-of-the-line" program for library borrowing, too! Another $100 gets your kid first crack at the books that you "subsidized" by buying them the front of the lunch-line package. Then, when all the rich kids are done with the books, the poor kids can read them.
And if your kid needs extra tutoring at school, well, we can just create a $100 front-of-the-line package for after-school meetings with teachers, and use the funds to pay for better desks. Then we can create a $100 package for access to those desks.
Eventually, somewhere down the line, all this "philanthropy" will benefit a kid whose parents didn't have a stack of $100 bills to kick in toward the school's operating budget. That's the efficiency of the market, and as anyone can see, it's much fairer than simply taxing rich people's income enough to fund the schools to the point where the lunch lines are bearable, the library has all the books it needs, the desks are clean and modern, and there are enough teachers' aides to help all the kids who're struggling.
“We look to strive to look for new and innovative fundraising ideas to enhance the school experience for our students. We offer a variety of fundraising options for our students and families to choose from each year. This Family and Business Sponsorship program was explored but we decided not to implement. Due to a clerical error, the form was inadvertently included in the Orientation packets. Our families have been notified this program is not being offered. The intent of our PTSA is to always do the best for our students and families.”
Polk Schools accused of 'cafeteria classism' after fundraising letter [Andrea Lyon/ABC]
(via Naked Capitalism)