Budget cuts are happening all over the country, in every state and county. The silent victims of these cuts are students. I recently went to a City of Gaithersburg City Council Meeting, in Maryland, where the Educational Enrichment Committee went over its agenda for the year. 

The elimination of an after-school bus program for elementary schools in Montgomery County was a big issue. The program provides bus service for students who stay after school for a club or extra tutoring after the regular bus route is complete. The committee has a limited budget for grants this year and is only able to fund this valuable program partially. Montgomery County Schools is hoping to work with school PTA groups and other alternative methods of funding to keep this service available this year. Possible partnerships with local businesses were even thrown into the discussion.

What really bothered me was the hesitation of the City Council and Mayor. They questioned whether schools were even allowed to fund these types of programs on their own with private help. When local governments cannot afford funding for crucial programs for schools, what other choices are left?  These types of partnerships should be encouraged, especially in hard times.

An example of public-private partnerships with schools is the SEED schools in Baltimore, MD and D.C. These schools give inner city children a chance to receive a safe, intensive learning environment, which they could have never imagined without SEED. The school’s operating costs are run by public funds, while everything else is covered by private corporations and individual donations. Students who’ve gone to SEED schools have been able to achieve the dream of going to college, a dream that every child should be able to make come true. Without private funding, SEED would not be possible.

Similarly, funding for an after-school activity bus for elementary school students comes with the same possibilities. After school programs enrich children’s lives, and allow them to get extra help if they’re not getting it during normal school hours. Is it really that bad for private funding to help in situations like this? Imagine how much a difference an extra hour of tutoring, or book club, basketball, or any other after school program can help a child. It may even give them that early push to excel throughout their lives. It’s time for a fundamental change in the education system, perhaps for our school systems to succeed we need to look at alternative funding methods to supplement what government can’t do.

For more information about SEED check out their website: http://www.seedfoundation.com/index.php/about-seed

Also, checkout the CBS special on SEED on 60 Minutes: