Monday, June 25, 2007


I Gave At The Office

OK, this is a rant about school stuff but it isn't the one I planned the other day when the snatch at E's school made me feel like I was about 12 years old and had just failed math. I'll save that one for another day.

But dude, is it just me, or is elementary school (and possibly high school but we aren't there yet) all about fundraising? I mean we have the monthly bottle drives, the book sales, the hot dog days, the pizza days, the art on dishcloths, the fit-a-thons, the pledges the wedges and the dredges. I am being nickel-and-dimed to death here.

I can't think of a single week where I haven't been asked to find a $5 bill in my wallet for something that's going on at the school. And of course if you point out that you pay for it through your taxes and really you're just all out of cash, having used that money to, oh, I don't know, FEED your KID, you're suddenly one of the "non-participating" parents.

Last year when things were so horrible that I was feeding her and not me, they had a sale of kid's art on dish towels, for $11. And I couldn't get even one, and it killed me. But ELEVEN FUCKING DOLLARS for a dish towel? I think not. I can get a case of Kraft Dinner for that. Plus a gallon of milk and half a dozen eggs.

I started working when I was eleven. I went out and got a paper route. And I'm pretty sure I paid taxes on that. When I was twelve I started babysitting and when I was thirteen I got a regular weekend gig sitting for a kid whose mom was a nurse. I know for sure I didn't pay tax on that but if someone would like to sue me now, 32 years later they're welcome to try. And then when I was fourteen I started working in a restaurant, and when I was sixteen I worked in an office five nights a week plus Saturdays. And I paid tax on that.

And then when I finished college at eighteen I worked full-time for an insurance company in Toronto and you know I paid tax on that too.

I don't mind paying school taxes; I never minded. I didn't have my kid until I was 38, but I figured that paying for schools was something we all had a responsibility for. And so I paid and paid.

And now she's in school I'm still paying on my taxes, but now I'm paying and paying on all of these fucking fundraisers also.

I'm getting sort of fed up with it. Can you tell?

I'm bleeding out of my ears, people! Stop with the fucking fundraising! Just tell me at the beginning of the year that there will be $200 in costs over and above, and I'll write you a goddamned check.


Just educate my kid, ok? Don't make me come over there and smack you.

I agree completely. When I was in school, the only fundraising we did was for the jr./sr. prom (juniors had to pay for that) and the sr. trip. Every year, near Halloween, the school had a carnival, and each class kept the money they raised at the carnival. Attendance was optional.

Then I was a live-in nanny for my niece and nephew. And they sold wrapping paper. The kind where you could go down to the dollar store and get 5 times as much for less than half the price. And I don't think either went on a senior trip.

Now I live in suburbia, and my short person is only 9 months old. We've lived here for 5 years, and kids have tried to sell me everything from chocolate to wrapping paper to candles. I won't do it. I will buy from boy scouts (please come back this year--I miss the chocolate covered carmel corn) and occasionally girl scouts, but I don't think I need to be paying for other people's kids schooling. I pay my taxes, including property tax. I occasionally buy a lottery ticket. I don't need to pay $6 for a couple of sheets of wrapping paper that might cover a small shirt box.

/rant ends here
That's what my son's school does--a fee and you are done. They have one major fundraiser (a dinner) but you are not required to attend. It really is a great idea, and you don't feel like you're being hit up all the time. Don't think I've ever commented before--but I read you all the time!
Oh, good grief. They do that in Canada, too? Not only did we have the endless fund raiser when my daughter was in school, but also all the fund raisers that everybody in the office brings in. And we continue to get calls from the university that my daughter graduated from last year asking for money. Even though they have raised their tuition every year since she first enrolled and are continuing to raise it. ENOUGH.
I totally agree. I understand that schools are getting squeezed because public funds don't quite keep up with costs, but if you're going to charge a fee, charge it. Make it up front. It's the nickel-and-diming that pisses me off. Just ask for the money and I'll give it; don't ask me to buy useless, ovepriced sh!t. For those that cannot pay the entire fee up front, spread it out over the semester, but make it clear up front how much is needed.
You're preaching to the choir. The bloody PTO -- staffed by alpha moms dressed in Lily Pulitzer channeling their inner busybody -- starts before the school year begins by handing out plastic baggies to collect labels over the summer, then we've got the requests for cash AND snippy phone calls asking you to volunteer to work at the various events thru the year. Feh.

And while we're on the subject, what's the deal with these "school supply lists"? You have to send your kid on the first day with pencils, paper, tissues, crayons, etc. What the hell are we paying all the school taxes for if they don't even supply a goddamned pencil for the kid to use?
At the beginning of the year, we received the school newsletter which bragged that the PTO has enjoyed 100% parent membership since before the invention of the shelf-bra cami. Way.

Well, we really meant to send in the check for PTO membership. Really. But we didn't. We did buy the art-to-coffee mugs, and the unwrapping paper and the cookie dough that tastes like anal gland. But not the P.T.O. We forgot.

Are we now, like, on a list? Uh yeah. The P.T.O. president won't make eye contact with me, and I know her. Neither will her friends, who are moms of kids my kid used to play with. Fuckers.

Although I'm kind of curious as to how they will advertise their P.T.O. participation in the fall. Will we be named?
Yet another reason we homeschool.

The school kids going door to door constantly either outright begging for money or selling overpriced crap - what the hell kind of thing is that to teach kids? These are the social norms of our society?
Beg or try to sell crap? Gee, I guess the squeegie kids by the mall learned that lesson really well.
Sadly, with the school supplies and stuff like that, my paltry tax dollars are going for Dick Cheney's hunting trips and the giant airplanes that circle my town endlessly (we have a flight training base for the air force here). The teachers have to supply the paper and pencils for kids who don't have any (and that's sad). I will buy the supplies, and probably extra, while I am able, and if I'm not, then I'm not. I will draw the line, though, when my six month old son is sent home with a fucking fundraising packet from his daycare. I asked them what I was paying $150 a week for, if they needed to have a fundraiser, and they couldn't answer me.
Seriously, if they'd just quit with the 'stuff' (that costs money, right?) and figure out a number they need, divvy that up by number of families...give 'a' number...for folks having harder times let them pay out but ferfucksakes.....yeah, enough with the buncha crap...crap.
(although I have to admit I don't mind so much those chocolate bars..)
If I wanted to pay for all of the fundraising shit MHP brings home, I would have put him in f*cking private school.

It's enough that I have to pay for Boy Scouts and karate lessons, and soccer teams and baseball teams and all of that other sh* the little dude wants to play football.

Is there another, more expensive sport? Because I'm sure he'd love to play that too. Bah.
Interestingly enough, the inner city schools are pretty heavily subsidized. When I was living out in the burbs, single-parenting my daughter, making eleven dollars an hour (and I WAS paying tax on that) - the school was sending home a notice several times a week for more money. I feel your pain Janice because it can really start to hurt. But then when I hit the corporate world it got even WORSE - every week a parent was bringing in the Entertainment Book, chocolate covered almonds, forms for giftwrap and other sundries, pledge forms. I was shelling out money every day it seemed. I hate fundraising!
We've got Mr. R. in a charter school, and apparently the school district only gives them what they are required by law to because the idea that some kids might need something other than the standard curriculum and teaching method gets up their nose. So when Mr. R. started there was the standard materials list and a request for donations of things like blank paper and nose tissue.

I, too, would prefer an upfront "we need x amount from each student to cover costs, and you can pay over the year or all at once" thing. And those families who have both parents (or the one parent) working full time and can't volunteer (because all volunteer opportunites happen during the workday) are made to feel ... unparticipatory.

Still prefer this to homeschooling. I'd be in the headlines if I did that, and not in a good way.
When you consider that the school MAYBE gets to keep 10 cents out of every dollar we pay for that cheap crap, I agree -- just send me a freakin' bill at the beginning of the school year for how much you need!

Oh, and please don't assume that every child has a stay-at-home parent who can turn up at whetever weird hour my kid needs to be picked up after play practice/ field day/ chorus class/ field trips. I work, and I am the only parent they have. I have to make money to feed and clothe them or else.
Delurking to agree and say amen! My eldest 2 daughters have the same dealie out on Long Island - the eldest, in public high school, sells an "entertainment book" which contains coupons for "savings" on places like McDonalds, the middle one has the wrapping paper sales. She is also in Girl Scouts, which I do support. The wrapping paper and entertainment book sales forms go back to school blank. As noted above, the school only gets a small percentage of the sales, what a waste! I really wish they would put in a yearly fee instead. One of my co-workers has that and I would be much happier with ponying up once a year and knowing what my share is rather than cadging money from friends and relatives.
I'm a teacher in Alberta and I agree absolutely. There is far and away too much fundraising going on. We're supposed to be supportive of it all and give the big rah rah to whip the kids into a sales pitch frenzy. Screw that! I have to give you the form, I don't care if you bring it back, just don't steal the money if you do sell something. Meanwhile, I have 3 kids of my own that I refuse to buy the shit from. My experience is that most of the fundraising, here anyway, is the brainchild of the Uber-Moms. These women are so scary that they make me feel inferior!
Oh yeah, the day care one reminded me of a NICE aspect to this. My kids' preschool has 1 or 2 fundraisers during the year and all the money is used to provide free tuition for families that otherwise couldn't afford preschool. Now that's a fundraiser I can get behind. The preschool doesn't even charge for school photos.
Amen! That is the scariest part of Girly entering school next fall for us. Nickels, dimes and twoonies, Dammit.
I went to a private school k-8 grades, and while my parents paid school taxes, they also paid for tuition specifically. They chose to send us to that school, and that is fine with me, but it never ceased to amaze me that we were still asked to participate in fund raisers. Now, as kids, they were fun to participate in, we did a "walk-a-thon" and could win Barbies and stuff... but as I got older, I stopped participating because my family and friends of family could not afford to spare the change (and I didn't want to). In high school I decline going on the "senior trip" to Virginia Beach for the same reasons. Money for something that is ALREADY paid for, is just frustrating. What really got me was in Participation in Government (PIG) when we learned how much money was being brought into our school district. Some of my friends and I conspiratorially decided that someone had to be skimming of the top (or much deeper...) Who knows... I'm not a mom yet, but I know that the fund raising is something I don't look forward to.
Thirteen! That's the number of fundraiser my two (yes, only 2) kids were participating in SIMULTANEOUSLY one September many years ago!

They were in two different public schools, participating in sports (one winding down, one in progress, one gearing up) at two levels, scouts, church. I finally threw up my hands in disgust and wrote a bunch of checks.
Sing it sister! My kids are in a montessori elementary school right now, which means that I'm paying both taxes and tuition -- I don't mind (I teach at a public university training future public school teachers so I know how important those funds are), but I can't tell you how frosted I get when my kids' teachers ask for more money on top of what I'm already paying! Not to mention the endless ceremonies that take place during the day, with minimal notice (read: my daughter's kindergarten graduation, which there's no way not to attend without being the worst possible parent, but for which I got precisely 48 hours notice!!). Educate them, please, do not turn them into junior door-to-door salesmen. Sigh...
I refused to let my kids go door to door begging for money. When the teachers tried to make me feel guilty, I shut them up by asking, "Who do I sue if my kid gets molested by a pedophile when she/he is acting as your salesperson?" I guess the school decided I was too nutz to deal with. They didn't send any more of the wrapping paper/candy/crap trinket sales shit home with my kids. I did donate money for specific things like trips though.
I'm so sick to death of this fund raiser crap.. They nearly killed us this year with it and Munchkin is only in kindergarten. I'm not looking forward to seeing the new school supplies list for our sparkling new elementary school in the area. I'm sure I'll be supplying caviar and champagne along with the pencils and erasers this year.
I, too, was appalled when I saw all the crappy frozen cookie dough fliers at my son's $230/week DAYCARE. I completely ignored it. I also ignored the SECOND school picture day of the year. I will refuse to allow my son to shill crap that's not good for my friend's bodies or storage closets once he's in school. I only pray that he doesn't want to play hockey when he gets older!!
We actually do get a "fundraising" bill for $150 at the beginning of the school year and the kids can't get their first report cards without my having paid it. Fine. But I miss the wrapping paper.
That's what I did, write the school a cheque and buy all my kids Terry Fox Run tickets, good tax recipt for me and besides I always give money to the cancer foundation.
I'm a terrible salesperson and never did those damn things. I always "lost" the forms. We're planning on homeschooling (Seattle public schools aren't so great and there's no way we could afford private), but even if we weren't there's no way I'd make my kid do that shit.
Got to agree with this we are constantly bombarded with sponsored walks, reading contests etc.
I got castigated for suggesting that one should not give to some charities. In this case it was for scanning machine for a hospital.
I made the point that we pay taxes to the government to provide these services if we go round buying these machines then it lets the government off the hook. Notice when the machine or whatever is delivered the local government official is there taking the credit for it even though they didn't pay for it.
Don't go buying the machine lobby the government to provide them, you have already paid for them.
And it's not just the school PTO fundraising. You've got the girl scouts, boy scouts, youth baseball, soccer, hockey, football, basketball, church group etc selling stuff to raise money for their group. Please stop coming to my house.

If you want your child to participate in an activity they should set dues to covered the entire expense.
We have to pay the $200 fee at the beginning of the year for.... "Book rental", and then we STILL have all the fundraisers. Book rental is a crock of shit, too. THey use the books for 6-7 years, and each kid that gets them pays nearly $200... so that's well over $1000... there's no WAY first grade books cost that much...

My advice: Pick out 3-4 fundraisers through the year and do those. Just skip the rest, and don't apologize for it. I really don't think they're expecting everyone to do them all. I *think* they're thinking that if they do a million of them, there will be some for everyone.
Yes, it is all about the money, and unfortunately, actual academics often come secondary. Just one more reason we homeschool :).
Libby -- Lacrosse.
Helmet, pads, stick, ball, mesh jersey to wear over shoulderpads, and of course, the child-sized jock strap and cup. Oh yeah, mouthgard.
Yep, my kid HATED it, too.

Although there used to be this store around that was in the business of selling gently used sports equipment. They would buy your stuff and then you could go there to look before paying full price. Sadly, it's gone now.
I absolutely agree. I also wish they would tell me upfront how much they want at the beginning of the year and be done with it. All these cutsie little fairs and charity events just drain me and they're always such a surprise. It seems the other mothers are right on top of it, but me, I struggle to keep up and it's always a surprise when the fundraising event is "this weekend".
there was only one fundraiser for my kids this year (middle school). it was magazines (ugh!). i did not buy any, nor did i take my kids 'round the neighborhood, nor did my husband take it with him to work. can we do something a little more user friendly?

i have a feeling, now that the elder is going to be in high school band, i'm gonna get socked again. sigh.
Not everything you are told you have to do necessarily falls within the Education Act for your province/state. I doubt that your school can actually hold back report cards if you dot not pony up the fundraising fee.

Try the principal first, and ask to see the regualtion put out by the school board that says that your child must fork over $150 get an education. If that does not work, go to the board and demand answers. If they pooh-pooh you, tell them you will have a group write to the state/provincial Dept. of ed.

I am on the other side of the fence. Some of what is passed out as "mandatory" relies on your believing that it actually is.

We had a teaching assistant send home notices telling kids how much to bring in for a gift for the teacher. When the parents became angry and complained, she had to stop. The principal did know know about this drive.

I somehow doubt that the Education Act allows students in public schools to suffer because they cannot cough up the cash.

I also diagree most stronlgy with kids selling stuff door-to-door. I know a kid who was molested by her neighbour when she did that.

I have to ask myself, when did public school morph from being a taxpayer-funded institution to being a charity?
People should look into the child labour laws. It's probably illegal for children to be selling things.
From my experience, school demand too much and give too little. In high school, my yearly student fee was about $5. We were given a breakdown of what that paid for. $5 for locker space (we provided our own locks), and the rest went to sports teams, buying them equipment and uniforms. Never mind that there wasn't a classroom in the place that didn't need a new coat of paint, those football players needed new helmets! Textbook falling apart? Oh, sorry, your money has been used to buy new hockey sticks. Sure, it sucks for the kid wanting to make the most of their education, but hey, we might have a winning sports team this year! As if school didn't already cost enough, with new supplies every year and transport costs and all that, but my money (or my parents' money) went primarily to support programs I didn't give a crap about, sometimes at the expense of my actual education. School isn't about learning anymore, it's about jocks using someone else's funds to train towards getting sports scholarships.

And we had the fundraisers too, and additional fees. Yearbooks cost at least $20, more if you wanted your name printed on the cover. Yearly school photographs. "Coffee houses", where students performed using their various talents, which cost money to get into and then more if you wanted any actual coffee. Bake sales for the cheerleaders, candy bar drives so the graduating class could go overseas on a trip, all that jazz. And I don't know if the parents were made to feel guilty about not shelling out, but the students sure as heck were.
Thank you.
I'm agreeing with you, too. I figure that I will buy a fundraiser item if it is an item that I want or can use. Otherwise, forget it. I sent many fund-packets right back to the school when DD was young. Especially the year when I asked what the fund-raising was for; since they couldn't tell me, I told them that we were not participating.
I do know what you mean. And in many ways I agree with you. Of course, the problem comes (here anyway) with the fact that despite the fact that we all pay our taxes (and there are more taxes in Europe than the US) the way the individual schools get money is on a per pupil basis, and our school is not full, so despite the fact that we have (for instance) only one and half kids' worth of year 1 classes, we have to have 2 year one teachers (because you can only have 30 max in one class - not that I'd want 45 6 year olds in a class - yikes!). Which means that all the money the school gets for those kids goes towards the teacher's salaries. If there was another half a class there, we would have money in the school budget for things like school trips, parties, cooking supplies in the class, heck even things like paint & glue sometimes. Hence the fundraising.

In some ways, it would be nice to get it all over with at the start of the year in one lump sum, but I know many people can't afford to do that, so at least with lots of little things spread out over the year, parents who are in uncertain financial situations can contribute when they can, and not do it, when they can't.

At our school we don't do quite so many of the teatowels, etc, though - it tends to be more events, etc (kids' discoes, mufti days (where you wear your own clothes instead of uniform for a small donation, either money or an object for the fair), the summer fair itself, and so on).

Perhaps the problem is also in the attitude towards those who aren't able to take part...
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