Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ain't No Fun in School Fundraisers

I was working on a list of common things that irritate me that I don't normally take time out to talk about (it is shockingly short thus far) and trying to decide what to rant about. Then Candy was nice enough to spend the afternoon whining like a little girl inspiring me.

Got kid(s)? Then I ~know~ you feel me. If they've left the nest, I'm betting the memories still linger. If they're too young for school, remember, you were warned. If they're in school now, well, you probably walk around in a mild state of "annoyed" pretty much the entire school year.

I ~know~ education is horribly underfunded in this country. All public schools have funding issues. From where I sit, small, high performing public schools seem to get the worst end of it; doing too well for most grants, but not well enough to attract big money donors (especially in elementary school where there's no football...)

Since neither I, nor anyone I am personally acquainted with, has a child in private school I can't speak to how it works there, but my fading, painful memories of Catholic school make me think it's pretty much the same.

So, since she started this, let's talk about Candy's woes: not quite nine (9) weeks into school and her kids brought home their THIRD fundraiser this year. This is stupid, seems to me, since parents tapped too frequently are parents who get burned out and start throwing away the paper as it comes home. Space the fundraisers people! Really, it's not rocket science. I'll leave this alone--I'm sure Candy has a lot more to say on the topic!


Then there's my friend C's school. Their PTA does what Candy wishes hers would, a no-frills fundraiser where the kid basically comes home with a bill and they offer a payment plan. Nice in theory, but the school sets the amount. Plus, the last 2 years the due date for first payment has been a week or less after the form went out.

My kid's school does something similar, their "Cash Cow" program; sponsor a cow for a certain amount per family, add more if you have multiple kids at the school, and we'll leave you alone the rest of the year. Nice theory, but since fundraisers are pimped (yes, pimped/hyped/sold) to the entire student body, your kid still gets the brainwashing.

Leaving aside arbitrary requests for money and the fact that it doesn't always work that way... A bill? I was shocked the first year she told me about this. She is in the midst of a divorce, working full time, single parenting 3 kids 7 or under and they want her to donate a 3-figure amount to the school? Granted she lives, courtesy of a great landlord, in a higher-end 'hood, so the school has probably come to expect it, but still... The whole class is excluded from some stupid reward or other if one kid doesn't bring the form back. She sent it back last year with a note explaining that while she was happy to help where/when she could, that figure was completely unrealistic.

The school mailed her "balance due" notices all year! WTF?!?!


My kid's school. Knew we'd get there sooner or later... She's in a charter school that is Pre-K to 12, so, to start, we have issues about inequity in fundraising i.e. the little kids' families do most of it yet the cash gets spread all over the school.

Then there's spacing. In the last 2 years a number of the founding/active families have left the school and with them, apparently, went the organizational skills. We used to do one big fundraiser a quarter. We did NONE first quarter. Now we have Fall Fest--where you are asked to shell out for game tickets, raffle tickets, food, etc. Four days later we have the Bowl-a-Thon.

The person who used to organize the Bowl a thon quit this year, so it didn't happen 1st quarter at all. Couldn't get it any further in this quarter because the bowling alley didn't want to lose holiday bookings. We just got the form a scant 2 weeks before the event.

Then there's the thing that has driven me nuts about this particular annual fundraiser from the beginning: It is NOT a true -thon. The kids have to raise a minimum amount of money in order to bowl, that's it. Not a penny per pin, or any other logical "sponsorship" style. They just panhandle and people pretend like that's NOT what it is and write their name and donation amount on the form.

First year I made my parents and brother donate. Last year, and, probably, this year, I'm just gonna pay the minimum. No way in hell is my kid wandering around the 'hood asking for money & I'll get fired if I do like our parents did and take it to work. To my mind it's not a fundraiser, it's blunt force extortion. Cuz, I'm like, gonna tell my kid she can't bowl with the rest of her class.

The event IS co-sponsored by a local organization who picks up the tab for some of the kids who don't make the minimum, but only in the lower grades. And they did lower the minimum a lot this year (from $25 to $10) to be more inclusive, but extortion is extortion, no matter what cute name you put on it and how cute a kid you use to sell it.


Whew. And I thought I didn't have anything to rant about. How's YOUR week been? And remember, if something is on your mind and you just can't wait for the weekly tirade, email it to me and I'll include your rant in my post with a little link love.


Candy said...

Oh, I'm totally ranting about that fund-raising stuff... I got sucked into payroll hell tonight, I'll post again when I'm ready. I'm sick of it!

Anonymous said...

Oy. I don't have any kids -- and so help me God, if I ever so much as think about having any, may I be struck down by a bolt of lightning and sent to the deepest, darkest, hottest part of Hell to teach How-to-use-Windows seminars to over-60 first-time computer users for all eternity -- so I don't have to experience the pain first hand, or sublimate the desire to take out a school board meeting with a souped-up weedwhacker. However, I do have nieces & nephews, so I still get hit with it - all of mine go to public school, and two are old enough to be in clubs and the like, which makes it even worse.

There are -thons out the wazoo -- all of which, like you said, bear no resemblance to any -thon I've ever seen -- and the car-washes and the stupid brochures selling wrapping paper or greeting cards or grossly-overpriced candy and confections that taste like they were baked on a back street in Calcutta in July. There are the boxes stacked with nasty candy bars being sold for the band and the cheerleaders and the recreational llama milking club. I swear, if they didn't make me twitch like a seismograph before the California Big One, I'd teach them myself just to be rid of all the stuff!

The only one I do like is when they sell the magazines. Sure, it's a limited selection, but several of the ones I like are always on the list, and the price is usually pretty close to what you'd get from the little mail-in subscription cards. I'll order one from each of them, get something I was going to buy anyway, and make out with a good opportunity to say "But I already gave!" the next time they come flapping those bloody brochures.

That wasn't really my rant -- mine is the stupid non-reflective coating they put on eyeglasses, which scratches like a wet cat and has now rendered my glasses nearly useless -- but apparently there was some fund-raising-rage built up in there somewhere. ;)

Jenn said...

Add yet another Pro to my Pro/Con of Homeschooling list.

I just learned that a word I use in my everyday vocab is actually a slang term for someplace I have only thought about during 2 separate 9 months stints in my life.

Why do people use my beautiful, wonderful words for such debasement? The place already has a term, a medically correct one, why steal one of my words to use instead? And then have someone laugh when I use it in a completely benign sentence? It's called a dictionary, there are 100s of words in it, find the right one for your usage and leave the rest alone! kthnx.

Dy said...

Jenn - you cannot say something like that and NOT tell us the word, that's just MEAN. ;-)

Jenn said...

Taint. I commented on the tainted Chinese eggs and then learned something I haven't known for 29 yrs and could have stood another 29 yrs being oblivious.

Dy said...

You're going to have to explain that one to me Jenn, The only improper use of "taint" that I know of is using it as slang for "it ain't". Now I'm just insanely curious.

Candy said...

Being friends with you people is exhausting sometimes... LOL... (I had to look it up too) Here ya go

Dy said...

Justin -

I am actually kind of relieved to know my kid's weird charter school isn't the only one that does "-thons" that aren't. Makes me a teeny tiny bit less annoyed at the school sponsored extortion. Not much less, but still...

Dy said...

Ya know Candy, now I'm sorry I asked :-(

A future rant of the slang disfiguring of perfectly good words is now in the works.