With all college cheating scandal in the news this last week, parents have been talking a lot about how competitive school admissions have become. Getting into college isn't as easy (or as cheap!) as it used to be. But if you think that competition doesn't kick in until university, you couldn't be more wrong. We routinely read stories about parents going above and beyond and paying top dollar to get their kids into good schools, starting as early as preschool! And public schools aren't immune from this competitiveness, either. Families use different addresses to get into better school districts, or even go as far as moving to a new neighborhood to be closer to prime schools. Once you've chosen a school for your kids, then comes the next level of competition: getting your kid into the "good" class.
Most public schools assign students to teachers based on certain criteria, and parents have very little say. It doesn't always end up the way some parents want, but it's an equitable system. However, some parents will go to great lengths to get the best teachers. At one elementary school in Portland, Oregon, parents even went as far as bidding on teachers for their kids. Yes, that's right - they bid on teachers and paid money to secure their child's place in a classroom. This is wild!
The PTA from Markham Elementary School in Portland, Oregon, held an auction to raise money for the school. Typically, these types of fundraisers raise money for the purpose of filling in funding gaps and funding programs and extracurricular activities for students. But the PTA at Markham Elementary took things a step further: they encouraged parents to bid on teachers for the following school year. And shockingly, parents did it! Six parents paid a total of $1,600 to get the teacher they wanted. Can you even imagine? Teachers who put so much time and energy and love into teaching our children, lined up on the auction block like cattle. What a mess.
Naturally, the auction resulted in a lot of hurt feelings among the teachers, and plenty of anger from other parents. After all, a lot of families don't have that kind of money just lying around! It really puts a lot of students and families at an unfair disadvantage.
The principal, Shawn Garnett, actually signed off on this incredibly misguided idea. But the Portland Association of Teachers and Portland Public Schools both decried the auction. The PTA has since apologized, and auction has been voided. The money paid by parents has been returned, and obviously, the spots they bought will not be honored next school year. The teachers and staff at Markham Elementary are are understandably upset, but are trying to put the whole fiasco behind them.
We're glad everyone came to their sense, but goodness, this never should have been allowed to happen in the first place!