A blip in the newspaper today reminded me of the fact that some kids get more of a fair shake at life than others. Heiser, a local car dealership, was donating $20 per test drive, up to $8000, to Nicolet High School to help pay for athletics programs. It’s hard to argue with generosity, but we all know that businesses have reasons for their donations, and those reasons can certainly be seen with a more critical lens.

These kinds of fundraisers might exist all over the place. I just happened to see this one, so all I can do is speak to the one I saw. Unlike some of the schools in the Milwaukee area, Nicolet gets a lot of the funding it needs. Citizens of the wealthy (and generous to their schools) surrounding community have often found ways to pass referendums and maintain a higher level of school investment than some of their neighbors. The residents from this community also make more money than many of their neighbors, especially those neighbors from Milwaukee.

That leads us to the fundraiser again. What benefit was Heiser looking for from the donations? Well, they’re paying $20 a head to have students and parents come test drive their cars, but it’s not like we’re talking about Milwaukee Washington or North Fond du Lac parents and students. This is River Hills and Fox Point, folks, an area that makes over double the average Wisconsin household income. If there’s one place in the state where extra fees for students to play sport would be OK, it’s at Nicolet.

I realize Heiser has had a long-standing relationship with the Milwaukee area, and I’m sure they’ve done similar fundraisers for MPS schools. In fact, Heiser had a large store on North 76th, close to both Marshall and Madison. My parents bought a car from them. So did a lot of other people who sent their kids to those two high schools. I’m sure Heiser probably bought uniforms for those high schools for years (though not when I was attending), and I’d love to have any confirmation from Heiser or the athletic directors of those two MPS schools to reiterate Heiser’s commitment to education in all parts of Metro Milwaukee, not just where the per capita income is higher than the cost of a new Lincoln.

Of course, if you know of similar programs at Homestead or other well-placed suburban schools, that would also be interesting information.

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