What is it with schools and fundraisers? I have my kids in the “free” public schools, but the reality is far from free. It seems that each month the kids are asked to raise funds for one thing or another (and please don’t tell me how underfunded the schools/teachers are – I taught for 8 years and was quite satisfied with my salary. I bought many things with my own money for my class/kids, not because I had to but because I wanted to thankyouverymuch).
The current plea is for gift baskets. Each class is putting together a huge basket with a theme: one daughter’s is “movie night”. Okay, no biggie. I’ll send in a box of microwave popcorn. The other daughter’s is “gift cards”. Now I’m torn: do I go out and buy a gift card to donate to this? The baskets are then put at the school carnival (another fund raiser) to be bid on by parents to raise more funds.
Last month the kids were encouraged to sign up sponsors for the read-a-thon, to raise money for the playground. How many times do we want to hit up friends and neighbors for contributions? Despite the fact that we’re paying thousands in property taxes that goes directly to the schools, it is never enough.
I think what’s bothering me most about this is the sneaking suspicion that whoever is making the spending decisions with all these funds is not doing it wisely.
As an aside: I am treasurer for a volunteer group at school. I try to always keep foremost in my mind that we are funded by $15 memberships from parents. With that in mind, when I need to send a letter to someone at one of the schools, I most often wait until I visit a school and put the letter into the (free) inter-school mail. I do this to save the .42 stamp. Now, this may seem like a small thing, but over the course of the year it adds up. Every .42 I save the organization is more money we can put towards a scholarship or curriculum materials.
Are other school officials using this same approach? Or, what about our government representatives? I sure would appreciate a bit more (okay, a LOT more) frugality from our federal government. Unfortunately, the sums at that level are so vast that I fear there’s very little detail being attended to.
Probably my least favorite fundraiser occurs in the fall. This one was going on even when I taught 15 years ago. The kids are taken out of class for an assembly where the salesman in charge basically holds a pep rally to get the kids excited about selling the crap high-quality gift wrap, ceramic doodads, etc. that his company is pedaling. He shows them all the prizes they can win for selling, all the way from a lowly pencil for selling one item up to a BOOM BOX! (now I’m sure it’s a Wii or something similar) to the top seller! The kids get so wound up, dreaming of that Wii and all the friendly neighbors who will help them earn it.
What’s your attitude on fund raisers? Do your kids participate?