A large chunk of the Ann Arbor Public Schools funding comes from its per-pupil allocation. Every child in the schools is worth over $9600--for that year--to the AAPS. So if I enroll my child, in kindergarten, in the Ann Arbor schools, and I stick with them for the next 13 years, I have effectively given the Ann Arbor schools $125,000 (more, if the per-pupil allowance goes up at all). Leaving aside the fact that I am trusting the schools with my most precious kids, this donation makes me, by the standards of any non-profit, a VMD (Very Major Donor).
Now any fundraiser can tell you that the path to raising money from a donor is based on a) developing relationships and b) getting buy-in for the cause. And that's why many potential donors get wined and dined.
If you figure that I might have more than one child (say, 3, because that's how many I've got)--I am now worth a whopping $375,000 (minimally) to the schools. And if I don't "buy in" to the schools, they have lost that money. And if I choose not to send my first child to the AAPS, then most likely my others will not follow either.
So--if I'm a new potential parent--will I get wined and dined? Will I get to see what's going on? There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, the answer is no. What will I get? I will get...Kindergarten Roundup! (And yes, the first one starts tonight.) That I find this totally inadequate is hopefully apparent. More about why it's inadequate, coming soon.