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A New Approach to School Finance

Professors Henry Levin and Craig Richards expressed concerns about the endorsement of fundraising organizations by Utah's Jordan School District.  The district currently distributes promotional fliers on behalf of the for-profit Odyssey Recreational Learning, a privilege reserved in many districts for county parks and recreation departments.  Odyssey pays schools $5 per student each week the student attends.

Although Odyssey organizes hands-on activities for elementary students in areas including science and visual arts if parents pay either $25 per day or $100 per week, there has been no official statement issued about the quality of its programs.  "Kids have no control over what's happening in the educational process.  Implicitly, [the district is] endorsing the educational approach of those companies, they're getting some kind of kickback, and they don't have a clue if it's effective," said Levin, director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education.  Professor Craig Richards, chairman of the Department of Organization and Leadership at Teachers College, suggested that schools only distribute materials from governmental entities, but after careful consideration.  Otherwise, he said, "parents only have review de facto if things are distributed in the school first."

The article, entitled "School Fund-Raiser Raises Questions," appeared in the December 20 edition of The Salt Lake Tribune.

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