June 5, 2012

Brainwashing, Part II

Neither Beth nor I would last homeschooling our kids. But they're my kids, my DNA, so I should be the one who gets the brainwash them. Not the school's.

Ever since godknowswhen, Mia's school's put on an end-of-year field day. It's old-school and what I remember from elementary school (as long as I block out all the squaredancing for Jesus I was forced to do). I went last year and, despite the fact that it was a million degrees outside, it was awesome.

This year, because time marches on stomping all over good things in favor of mediocrity, field day is dead. It's been replaced by a slick, corporate-backed fun-run organized by people who I believe to be more evil than Karl Rove dressed in a clown suit luring kids into the back of a ice cream van.

Instead of taking part in a fun day of outside activities, kids are encouraged to take part in a week-long fun run. (Note, this does not mean they run for a week straight. That would be truly evil. Instead, they participate a little bit each day in the hopes of accumulating laps over the space of a week.) Mia came home the other day and told me all about it - the event, logistics and, especially the prizes. Then she told me the marching orders she got from an assembly held that day - ask everyone you know for money except your teachers, strangers or other students.

This really isn't a fun run. It's whoring kids out for cash. I have no idea how much money goes to the schools, how much pays corporate salaries and how much goes to shitty prizes but I do know that parents are put in a no-win situation. And I resent it. Fiercely. This kind of thing pressures both kids and parents to participate. Kids can't say no because all of their friends are doing it. And what parents wants to sit their kid out when that decision will impact their kid, not them?

I make okay money. If someone would tell me how much they want from me at the beginning of the school year, I'd gladly write a check. It would be far better than luring my kids with promises of crappy prizes to hit up everyone they know for money. I'm happy to put time, effort and money into supporting schools but I resent that it's done through teaching our kids that money and stuff make things worthwhile and, worse, fixes everything.

I believe in the public education system in our country. Teachers and supportive, engaged parents shoulder a huge load and don't get the recognition they so truly deserve. I don't blame PTAs or teachers or school systems for this. The simple fact is that schools need help - any help they can get. If schools were adequately funded this would likely be a non-issue.

Posted by Chris at June 5, 2012 7:08 AM

Ban the Fun Run!
Seriously. My son goes to a private school, which costs more than my mortgage. (Only a SLIGHT exaggeration). We have a gazillion fundraisers and one of them is the fun run. Luckily my son is in high school so they all know its just a scam to get money. I refuse to ask family members for money for this so I just write the check. They have to have $25 in donations to participate in the Fun Run, $50 for a t-shirt and $75 to get a dress down day. It's out of control.

What I hate even more and I don't know if you have this in your community, is the public school organizations who stand in the middle of the street begging for money- Cheerleading! Softball! Wrestling! Sorry, I pay school taxes to a school my kid doesn't go to, I pay for his tuition and all the fees and everything else associated with it. We buy our own uniforms and all parents support the sports booster clubs so we don't have to beg for money. Pisses me off to no end!

Posted by: Lisa at June 5, 2012 8:09 AM

Is it a Bootherthon Run? If so, we did the same thing here in Cypress, TX. I didn't like the idea at first but then found out that it made $37,000 for the school and $7,000 went directly into the teacher's hands to purchase things for the classroom. I despise fund raisers but of all of them, I thought that this one had the best overall setup and there were good messages to the kids, whether they participated or not in raising the funds. Of course...I am a little biased...my kids don't do fund raisers anymore and I'm a teacher ;)

Posted by: Jenn at June 5, 2012 8:11 AM

Is it a Bootherthon Run? If so, we did the same thing here in Cypress, TX. I didn't like the idea at first but then found out that it made $37,000 for the school and $7,000 went directly into the teacher's hands to purchase things for the classroom. I despise fund raisers but of all of them, I thought that this one had the best overall setup and there were good messages to the kids, whether they participated or not in raising the funds. Of course...I am a little biased...my kids don't do fund raisers anymore and I'm a teacher ;)

Posted by: Jenn at June 5, 2012 8:11 AM

The fundraising that the kids do is crazy. I totally take them out of the equation by bringing all the things they're selling into work and whoring for them. However, I know that the fundraising pays for all the extra activities (including field day) and field trips that the kids participate in during the school year.

The thing that kills me is that I live in a state with outrageous property taxes that primarily fund education and even so, there is no money left over for anything extra, including crayons! But my kids will end up with a decent education, unlike many in this nation.

One good thing is that our PTO has an "opt-out" option where you just write one check at the beginning of the year and you are done. :)

Posted by: Elizabeth at June 5, 2012 8:15 AM

My niece did that too, and I thought it was ridiculous. And my sister bought into it and badgered me to "sponsor" her. The whole thing is just appallingly amazing.

I'm glad you still believe in the public education in our country. There are still a few of you out there, I suppose. I don't. It is a horribly broken system. And after teaching for 9 years in four school districts (all changes by choice, not force,mind you), I can tell you I've seen a lot and experienced a lot. And after this year in a 'burb of Monkeytown, I never want to go back to the classroom as a teacher again. Education in our country is in a sad, sad state.

Need an administrative assistant? secretary? I am fabulous at multitasking!

Posted by: punkinnoodle at June 5, 2012 8:20 AM

Also, if you want to know where "all the money" is going, as the superintendent (and their extensive "support" staff) how much s/he makes. It is usually WELL into 6 figures, even in very small/poor districts. I deleted my tirade I wrote after all that. You're welcome. :)

Posted by: punkinnoodle at June 5, 2012 8:24 AM

I HATE fundraising. This year, my son's track team was told to provide 4 email addresses, to which they then sent a canned fundraising letter. If the kids didn't participate, they had to spend 4 hours cleaning the track. I understand the need to fundraise, but I'm with you. I'd rather pay a set amount than continually hound my friends and relatives for money.

Posted by: Carolyn at June 5, 2012 9:24 AM

My wife and I did last homeschooling our kids, and not having to deal with the constant fundraising is one of those things that I like most about the decision. Well, that and the 1/2 price beach home rentals at the Outer Banks after Labor Day ;)

The constant fundraising in public schools offends me on another level too. Virginia spends almost $10K a year per kid, which should be enough. Way too much money in the school system is allocated to people and processes that have nothing to do with teaching kids. Cut the overhead, raise teacher pay, and give teachers the resources they need to do their jobs.

Posted by: COD at June 5, 2012 9:29 AM

I couldn't agree more. We have said this for the past two years. Just let me write a check at the beginning of the year for all the crappy little shit you're going to try and pawn off on my kid in the name of fundraising so we don't have to go through the torment of remembering a dollar every week for each kid in a separate baggy with a separate note for whatthefuckever it is this week. The marketing to kids thing is what angers me, not the money. I hate hearing them "sold" on an idea by the school. Sickening.

Posted by: Brad at June 5, 2012 10:15 AM

Boosterathon? Michael's school just did this. The thing that is annoying me right now is the fact that they keep emailing me when people haven't paid their contributions. What would you like me to do? I am not emailing them every day to bug them. They said they would donate and they didn't. Deal with it. Or email them.

Posted by: jodifur at June 5, 2012 10:26 AM

Basically they've eliminated the Field Day for a fundraiser? Hardly an even swap!
I'm 4 years removed from fundraising and a child in the school system but live in the town I grew up in still and I will give money to EVERY hs student that jingles a money can my way - taxes, who gets paid what be damned. it's not about US it's THEM. Same way I feel about the Salvation Army pot at Christmas and the Vets with their poppies.

Posted by: NancyB at June 5, 2012 11:22 AM

Our school has done away with all fundraisers and replaced them with a Cheque Writing Campaign. We do not have sell anything to our relatives and neighbours, nor do our children participate in any fun-run type of activities. We decide what we can afford to donate, and we write the cheque. Easy-peasy, as my daughter says. Particpation rate? 85%. 'Nuff said.

Posted by: Jodi Lea at June 5, 2012 11:36 AM

Oh - and since inception, the Cheque Writing Campaign has always matched or topped the amounts raised in previous years.

Posted by: Jodi Lea at June 5, 2012 11:38 AM

I totally agree with you! They hype up these kind on fundraisers that my kids is determined to raise money. I don't allow her to ask friends and family for donations so I just write the damn check myself. And her school does a Rock-a-thon. Sounds cool right, maybe a day of air guitar and good rock music. But NO it is rock as in rocking as in rocking chairs. And get this. You have to bring your own rocking chair. Yes in the hustle of getting my kid to school on time I have to pack up and deliver a freaking rocking chair and a check.

Posted by: Elissa at June 5, 2012 1:08 PM

As a parent of two kids in private school (and together, it really is more than the mortgage every month) I agree with so much of what Lisa said.

Our PTA had a vote - parents voted they would rather write an additional check for $XX amount at the beginning of the school year than have our kids participate in any fundraising of any sort for the general school fund (kids in sports still fund raise, but they mostly do it with spagetti dinners, Friday night "babysitting" services (they throw basically a huge party in the school's gymnasium, and parents can drop off their little ones from 6-10 for a fun night for the kids and a night out for the parents), donations being excepted at games, restaraunt nights, and "dances" for parents with babysitting service (quite fun) and a mother's tea and a dad's football party.) The vote was something crazy like 92% in favor of that. Needless to say, it passed. My kids whore out nothing.

Field day was last Friday. And it was awesome. To take that away from kiddos and replace that with a fundraising 'fun run?' Honestly? Criminal. I'm so sorry for Mia.

Posted by: Mindy at June 5, 2012 1:54 PM

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Posted by: Jingle production at June 7, 2012 1:32 AM

I love Field Day too and am glad that our school is still doing it. This year was my 4th running the obstacle course, and it is pretty cool when the kids remember me from the year before. If all goes well, I still have 6 more years of running that course.

Posted by: Rex at June 12, 2012 12:47 PM