With back to school there have been a great many articles and discussions about how parents should act, what they should say and what they should do to help their child's school and teachers be successful educating them. There are a great many valid points about parental involvement, which I tend to think of as hopefully parental "evolvement." I know that my children's schools (I have four children aged 5 to 23, so am no stranger to elementary, middle, high school or college) work hard. I know that they need money in order to do all the activities, events and even just for keeping the school running, but do they all have to happen at once?
The first day of school, my daughters walk in with gleaming teeth (after expensive dentist bills), their immunizations up to date (as they must be for registration), their hair cut, backpacks on, school supplies bought, new tennis shoes tied and their favorite Victorious outfit on. Before we are even used to the back-to-school schedule, I have a fundraiser pack that my 6-year-old says I have two weeks to sell and by the way, we have to sell enough so she can get an iPod prize. Personally, since everyone else I know found one of these exact same fundraiser packets in their backpack and we don't go door to door with small children, I have no choice but to "pony up the dough" and hit up my own parents who already spent quite a bit of money so that they could be here to visit with their granddaughters for grandparents day at their school.
In the midst of trying to find someone, anyone, including the people at my husband's brand new job, to make a purchase, I am asked to join in a carnival fundraising event. We need volunteers. Without you and 50 other volunteers of time, talent, money, donations -- and oh, by the way you will need to also man a booth for five hours -- we can't have this amazing fundraiser to benefit our children.
My head reeling from the school expenses so far, my middle daughter informs me that she needs $70 to play basketball. No pay, no play. Oh, and it's time to order class rings which start (mind you start!) at $249.00 for the most basic of rings plus $10 for shipping. Trust me, I have worked in schools, I know that a portion of this money goes towards the fundraising account.
With just two days left to sell friends, family, and co-workers on wrapping paper at a whopping $8 a roll and a bunch of other items they could purchase much cheaper, not one but two children come home with book fair forms. Mommy! Look look, it's book fair time. Can I have this one, this one and this one? Did I mention that for some reason the $2 books I could purchase last year (one for each child) are no longer on the form, but that about 10 books are $5 and the rest are $17.99 each? Looking at my daughter I tell her I hope a client pays me this week, but if not, no I am sorry we won't be buying from the book fair. Last but not least I see that picture day is rapidly approaching, so I again say regretfully, No, not this month. There will be other book fairs.
Faces crumble, but mommy I love to read (yes, they do love to read) but this is honestly three weeks into the school year and this is the straw that "broke" this parents' back
Schools, I love you. You teach my children so much. I worked for 20 years in education from cradles to colleges. I know how hard you work and truly do appreciate all that you do for each and every child in your care. But between co-pays, clothing, school supplies, fund raisers, books fairs, pay to play, and class rings I have nothing left to give. I can't volunteer, I need to work. I can't help out in the office or supply room or grade papers because time is money.
We parents truly do want to be involved. We want to share with you in our child's learning experience. I'm not asking you to stop what are very important opportunities to raise much-needed funds for our child's school. I am asking that schools meet us halfway. Spread the opportunities for money love around so that as parents we can be involved in more than one way, with our dollars. Let's make our commitment, involvement and common "sense" count too.
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