This article can be found in the current issue of the Journal of Urban Affairs regarding Examining Public Private Partnerships and the Production of Urban Space.
Public–private partnerships (PPPs) have a growing presence in U.S. public schools in activities ranging from standardized testing to after-school programs to charter schools. A smaller scale mode of collaboration between public schools and private actors not typically described as a PPP is fundraising by parents and community members through parent–teacher associations or organizations (PTAs or PTOs) and school- or district-level foundations. These organizations have dramatically expanded fundraising in reaction to several trends. This article describes case studies of 2 districts in which school board policy was modified to address concerns that such fundraising produces inequity. In Newton, Massachusetts, and Bellevue, Washington, policy limits fundraising benefiting individual schools in favor of approaches to benefit the entire district. Drawing on interviews and public documents, the article examines how these policies were adopted and what approach they take to address inequity. It concludes by considering this phenomenon in relation to urban inequality and describing policy concerns on the horizon related to philanthropy of this nature.