It's the time of year when many of us make most of our annual charitable contributions, and if you attended college for as little as one semester, you've probably heard from your alma mater recently. But before you send a check or give your credit card number to your college alma mater, I hope you'll consider giving to your high school alma mater this year, or to the high school your children attend or have attended.
Consider the following. While many universities are becoming crowded by new buildings given by rich alumni as monuments to themselves, some public schools (traditional and charter) are badly in need of repair. Colleges get new stadiums and state-of-the-art arenas and pay their football and basketball coaches millions of dollars. High schools sometimes have to drop sports because they don't have the funds to pay for equipment, transportation, or coaches. Colleges supply their marching bands with shiny new instruments -- we supplied our own horns in my day. High schools often have to eliminate bands and other extracurricular activities for lack of funding.
Private schools have long received the generous support of their alumni. More recently, public charter schools, out of necessity because they are not funded as well as traditional public schools, have raised funds from parents and foundations. Charter school grads are just starting to reach an age where they have the resources to make significant contributions, so alumni giving to charter schools is still in its infant stages. Traditional public schools raise funds by selling candles, pizza, and magazines, but they have not traditionally asked their alumni for donations.
Of course, some people will object to giving to a public school on the grounds that they already support public schools through their tax dollars. But many of those same taxpayers give generously to the state university they attended. I don't understand the double standard.
This year, when your college alma mater asks you for money, I ask you to consider splitting your gift between your college alma mater and your high school alma mater (or a local charter or traditional public school that could really use the money). And if you believe in the First Amendment and detest the storm of political correctness on college campuses, this might be the year to give it all to your high school.