The 5 Craziest Ways Public Schools Are Trying to Make Money
Even when economic times are good, most public schools are hard up for money, scraping by on outdated textbooks and school lunches made up of food rejected by prisoners. And economic times are not good.
Without getting into the politics of the situation, in general there just isn't enough money to go around for public schools. That means the schools have to get creative to make up the gap. After all, when the children's futures are at stake, should anything be off the table?
Well ... maybe.
Plastering Ads Everywhere
The moment we started talking about ridiculous ways schools are trying to raise money, half of you immediately thought, What, are the plastering ads all over the buses? Ha!
Actually, they totally are.
For example, schools in Colorado, Kentucky and New Jersey have all passed laws allowing ads to be splashed right on the side of their buses. It's perfect if you think about it: Your kids can start learning about the stark economic realities of life before they even get to school. "Lesson one, Billy: If you're too poor or young to own a car, then you have to ride a big yellow billboard to school every morning."
And how's your credit rating, Billy? That goes on your permanent report card, you know.
And, hell, why should it end when they get to school? Dammit, if there isn't at least one advertisement within full view of each child every second of the day, we're leaving money on the table! That's why other school districts are allowing gigantic ads on school lockers.
In a subtle fuchsia tint.
But you have to think beyond just the walls -- think about all of that paperwork the schools are always handing out. You know, grade cards and stuff. Look at all the blank space around the margins! Surely you could cram some goddamned ads in there. And sure enough, some Florida schools decided to let the local McDonald's advertise on student report cards, provided that McDonald's paid roughly $1,600 for the envelopes. Never one to let an opportunity at America's youth go by, McDonald's bit on the offer and came up with this:
Is this a threat for the children with low grades? Because that's just tasteless.
Of course a shitstorm of protests ensued, but the school board held firm. Besides, what makes bad news about failing grades go down better than a nice, juicy Quarter Pounder?
Cash4Gold will be to this recession what the soup lines were to the Great Depression: a sad symbol of desperate times. It brings to mind weeping mothers mailing off their antique jewelry to be bought and melted down for pennies on the dollar.
You're not truly desperate until you trust your priceless heirlooms to the U.S. Postal Service.
So it only makes sense that after your child has learned the valuable lesson of how the modern economy runs on giant pictures of hamburgers, he or she can learn another valuable lesson about the market value for Grandma's old necklaces. Kids at Norton Elementary in Georgia got to witness this dynamic first hand when the school held a three-day cash for gold event on school grounds, during school hours.
Now, it may be a fine idea in principle to turn the school into a pawn shop for three days to drum up some quick cash for the school, except that people getting rid of their valuables for quick cash were under no particular obligation to donate the cash to the school. Because of this, it's completely conceivable that Grandpa pawned his gold teeth and pocketed all the cash, leaving the school high and dry.
Sooo ... your Grandpa is pretty pimp?
Ah, what are we talking about? Pawn shops always attract the classiest customers! Wait, do those old wrestling trophies in the main hall display case have real gold on them? Melt that shit down! We have books to buy!
Wait, the price of gold has dropped? Burn the books, we've got a mob to start!
Working the Casinos
It may not be surprising to hear that gambling gets used occasionally to raise money for good causes. Hell, numerous states already use proceeds from the lottery to fund schools -- that's basically the same thing.
So presumably this guy surrounded by hookers is the world's greatest philanthropist.
But not to be outdone, 83 Catholic schools in Alberta, Canada decided to go a step further and have charity casino nights. And we're not talking about using Monopoly money to play roulette while everybody giggles and drinks punch. We're talking real casinos. Parent associations formed the casino nights where the parents volunteered at actual local casinos for four to six hours of work while the other parents gambled. Because of the low overhead for the casino, the schools walk away with a ton of jack, usually somewhere around $70,000 for a single night of work. Holy shit! Why doesn't everybody do this?
Oh yeah, the "gambling" thing.
Realizing that raising funds via keeping Mom and Dad glued to the Blackjack table was probably not the best for the school's image, the Archbishop of Edmonton called for an end to the practice ... and was immediately objected to because the schools were making too much money off it. With an expected $6 MILLION expected from gambling over 18 months, the schools have no way to replace that kind of revenue. The money is used to help fund school meals, field trips and classroom equipment.
"Our math lesson today is how putting your college fund on double-pay bonus spins will really increase your payout on the slots."
Though can you imagine how much of a dick you'd feel like if you hit the fundraiser casino on a hot streak and cleaned them out? "Jackpot! I'll take that payment in the form of textbooks and janitors, bitches!"
Just Plain Cheating the Test Scores
Cheating is an unforgivable sin in any academic setting. In most cases, students caught cheating face, at a minimum, failure on the assignment -- and more severe cases can lead to suspensions or expulsion. And why not? You need to send that goddamned message early: You can't get ahead by cheating.
Unless you are a human person living on Earth.
Ah, but there's one little complication. It's not just the students that benefit from a good test score; federal funding is tied to test scores for programs like No Child Left Behind. So everybody has motivation to rig the game a little.
"What's this? A goddamn apple isn't going to secure my salary. Stop crying and get me a B-."
And so, in a classic case of "do as I say and not as I do," teachers in Baltimore and Atlanta school systems were caught changing scores on the standardized state tests. If you're thinking they did some complicated hack of the computerized records or distributed answers to students, they weren't quite that sophisticated. No, they literally went test by test, erased the wrong answers and filled in the correct ones. By hand. On hundreds of tests.
Granted, you can totally tell when an answer has been erased, and it doesn't take a rocket scientists to notice that virtually every changed answer was now correct. But, the teachers behind this apparently felt that no one would find it suspicious that hundreds of students had multiple moments of enlightenment in which the correct answer suddenly dawned on them.
They were wrong. The tests were flagged by the automated test checker that verifies the test results. What? You mean somebody checks these things?
George Washington Elementary alone estimated that "hundreds of state test booklets" had been altered, while the Atlanta schools found an estimated 250,000 answers changed. By hand. Hey, criticize their ethics, but these people were willing to goddamn work for it.
Inflating Enrollment Numbers With Cash and Prizes
It's hard enough to get kids to come to school, and when they have to report to a dilapidated school system where they might, you know, get shot, it can be damn near impossible. And truancy can be a big problem for a school, as its funding is tied to how many kids are actually filling desks.
Great turnout today, guys.
Detroit Public Schools, however, found an answer to all of that. See, they lose money if kids don't show up, but the people in charge of the funding aren't there every day to keep count. No, Michigan funds its public schools based on the amount of students that report on two state-mandated "count days." These count days are announced in advance, and state funding equates to about $7,550 per student that shows up to school on that day, which translates to an assload of cash for the school system. Therefore, Detroit's schools pull out the stops to make sure that the kids show up on these days no matter what.
"I don't care if you and your sister are upset, your Grandma's death just cost us over $15 grand."
This means a "count day" will feature everything from free ice cream to in-class parties. Some schools hold basketball tournaments during school hours. Bethune Academy, among others, had a movie/popcorn day with the promise of lots of game playing. Duffeld School promised "free time and a day of fun" while Gardner Elementary was giving away "special gifts for attendance."
None of that boring learning for you today now that you're in school. Here's an Xbox.
That's right; when all else fails, bribe the damn kids to come to school. It's not like it's a law to attend or anything.
Most of the schools, in fact, were having raffles for door prizes throughout the day, including bikes and MP3 players. Detroit City High School even raffled off free extra credit; we're not sure how that doesn't constitute academic fraud, but hey, whatever works for them. On top of this, students also get entered into a larger raffle for prizes including a 42-inch plasma flatscreen TV or a laptop computer. And all of this is just for walking in the goddamned door.
"Well done for existing, Tommy! Have a lollipop."
Are they teaching the kids a bad lesson? We're not even sure any more. Because the lesson seems to be one that applies fairly well in the real world: When times are desperate, you do whatever it goddamn takes.
For more ways educational institutions have lost it, check out 8 Real Grade Schools That Went Completely Insane. And see what you should really be learning in The 10 Most Important Things They Didn't Teach You In School.