Walking past the parking lot to make my way to first period, I noticed that the school had recently finished painting a few students’ names on the reserved parking spaces. This has been done for years, and I had always thought they were the names of student government officers, or some other prestigious position.
It turns out these spaces are not reserved for students who have achieved some sort of accomplishment or served our school; they are actually auctioned off to the seniors whose parents pay the most money for them.
These are trying times for public schools, and we need innovative ways of raising money. All the proceeds from the parking space auction help to pay for Grad Night, something all seniors benefit from, so the efforts of the committee and the students and families who buy the spaces are well-intentioned and very much appreciated.
However, there must be ways to raise money without compromising the values we ought to have as a public school.
In public schools, all students should have equal opportunities, regardless of their families’ financial situations. Rewarding the kids whose parents can afford to pay gives special treatment to the wealthier families.
This isn’t Jesuit; we have standards.
Something like this might make sense at a private school where the $14,000 yearly price tag implies that everyone is financially well-off.
But this is a public school, and there are some things you don’t do for money.
Should we auction off the top lockers to the highest bidder, because that would also raise more money for the school? What about auctioning off the best seats at the rallies?
Now, some would argue that plenty of programs at this school cost money, such as participation in the football team and other sports.
Students do need to pay around $300 each to play football, but this is a different scenario than what we are doing with the reserved spaces. Sports boosters are in place to provide financial aid to athletes who need it.
Furthermore, students did not always need to pay to play football; this has only become necessary due to recent budget cuts.
In addition, the district ensures that no one will be turned down from sports teams or field trips if they cannot pay.
I would also suggest that even though our entire school is not perfect, this does not mean we should not make an effort to improve the school wherever we can.
When considering reserving parking spaces, we should award kids based on merit, not their parents’ ability to pay.
You’re probably aware that the school has a stereotype of being a bunch of rich kids, but anyone who goes here knows that is not true.
However, auctioning parking spaces to the highest bidder certainly doesn’t contradict that stereotype.
There are fairer ways to decide which students should get the reserved spaces, and make money. Perhaps the best way would be to have a raffle for the parking spaces, so each family could buy raffle tickets for $20 or so, and at the end, five students’ names would randomly be drawn. Most people can afford $20, but not everyone can afford $300, which is about how much the spaces were auctioned off for.
It also stands to reason that a raffle would bring in more money as well, because each family could buy multiple tickets, and the school would get money from every buyer, not just the winners.
In this time of chronic underfunding for schools, it is tempting to raise money in more imaginative ways, but we should choose methods that do not jeopardize the principles of equality and fairness that our school should uphold.