I have kids in first and sixth grade attending a lovely public elementary school. Skilled teachers, competent staff, and a respectable administration offer nothing less than a perfectly acceptable educational experience for my kids … but it ain’t free. Enrollment is high, funds are low, and the pressure is greater than ever to perform with fewer resources. Our poor schools!
Every year at back-to-school night, I’m provided with a wish list of classroom items, such as paper reams, dry erase markers, disinfecting wipes and tissue boxes. I’m also asked to purchase the state curriculum consumable workbooks that my kids work out of because the school doesn’t have the budget to provide them (to the tune of $72 for one kid!).
But OK, there’s no money, so of course, parents buy and they give. Every year, in addition to supplying my kids with their own consumable educational tools, I fulfill their teachers’ wish lists and continue fulfilling them throughout the year. I don’t do it because I have to, I do it because I want to, knowing these items will go to great use. But that’s only the beginning, because next come fundraising sales.
Ah, “fun”draising assemblies with their dazzling carrot-on-a-stick promises of limo lunches, iPads, and Xboxes if only they sell a gazillion roles of wrapping paper, cookie dough tubs or magazine subscriptions. Except there’s no way for kids to reach these prize-earning goals without serious parental intervention, and last I checked, few of us have the time, energy, or chutzpah to badger family, friends, and coworkers to buy! buy! buy! in the name of school fundraising.
But it doesn’t end there, either. It’s paper drives, read-a-thons, dance-a-thons, spirit nights, and family fun nights. Tack all that on to school party donations, spirit wear sales, and field trip expenses, and school really begins to add up, not to mention, get old.
I’m tired of keeping track of order forms. Tired of helping my kids ask for money. And tired of not seeing positive changes in my kids’ educational experience as a result. Oh, and I’m broke.
It’s been years of giving hundreds of dollars, submitting thousands Box Tops and Labels for Education, and paying staggering property tax bills — and for what? The classrooms still don’t have what they need.
When both of my kids brought home information on yet another school fundraiser last week, I felt two things: pissed that our school has to be put in this position time and time again when their primary focus belongs on educating our kids, not working their tails off to raise enough money just so they can, and pissed that I needed to write another check. When I whined to my husband he simply said, “Just don’t do it.”
“What?! I can’t be that mom! My kids can’t be those kids! The school needs money!” I replied with raging indignation.
“It’s your call, but know, the school will always need money. When I was growing up, my parents never helped out the school. They couldn’t afford to.” he said.
“Yeah, but that’s different,” I said, “we can.” And then I paused. Because honestly, I’m not even sure we can anymore. Neither my husband nor I are making any more money, if anything we’re taking home less. Add lower income to climbing food, gas, and utility prices, increased tax rates, and the hopes of ever saving for college, and it’s harder and harder to even get by, let alone fund our school’s insatiable deficit.
So now, three-quarters of our way through the school year, I finally decided that I’m done supporting school fundraisers this year. We’ve given enough, and might I be so bold as to say, we’ve given much more than that. Next year, I’ll continue to support our school’s fundraising efforts for as long as I’m able, but for right now, volunteering my time in the classroom with have to be enough.
School fundraisers: where do you stand?
Photo credit: Flickr/misskprimary