Research News

UW’s Posey-Maddox inspects politics of parent fundraising in public schools

August 17, 2015

An article examining the politics of parent fundraising in public schools by UW-Madison’s Linn Posey-Maddox was recently published in the Journal of Education Policy.

The article is titled, “Beyond the consumer: parents, privatization, and fundraising in U.S. urban public schooling.”

Linn Posey-Maddox
The paper’s abstract notes: “Given recent budgetary gaps in public education, many civic and educational leaders have relied upon private sources of funding for U.S. public schools, including funds raised by parents. Yet parents’ role as economic actors in public education has been largely unexplored. Drawing from a qualitative study of parent engagement, fundraising, and school change in Chicago public schools, I explore the educational investments of a largely white group of middle- and upper middle-class parents and how they understand their collective engagement in relation to educational disparities.”

The abstract continues: “The findings show that parents were not only consumers through school choice, but also economic brokers of private capital via their fundraising efforts and producers of urban school change. Despite their stated commitments to public education and desire for diversity, most parents worked with and for a more selective public in their school change efforts, exacerbating resource disparities in the segregated urban district. The findings highlight the tensions and equity issues that arise when White, economically advantaged parents are positioned as consumers within neoliberal urban educational contexts while simultaneously called upon to support, sustain, and improve the public schools they choose for their children.”

Posey-Maddox is an assistant professor with the Department of Educational Policy Studies. She is the author of the 2014 book, “When Middle-Class Parents Choose Urban Schools: Class, Race, and the Challenge of Equity in Public Education.”