Thursday, December 30, 2010

SFGate: Enough of school fundraisers

This from SFGate:

Many public school parents get frustrated when faced with the ever-shrinking budgets and the endless calls to raise cash. For, even with all our fundraising, if our kid is talented enough to earn a part in the school play, we have to fork over more money to pay for the honor. Otherwise, no funds for sets, costumes or playbills.

Given this sad state of affairs, I'm wholly in favor of fundraising. However, I'm a little fed up with some of the tactics, and I'm strongly considering a boycott.

I came to this conclusion while delivering boxes of raw cookie dough to raise money for my daughter's middle school. Her school is always asking kids to sell stuff to raise money - money that is no doubt put to good use. But here's what happens: All the parents end up buying useless junk from one another. We could raise a lot more money if we cut out the middleman and just donated directly to the school.

Read the full story

48 comments:

  1. I despise school fundraisers. I would much rather write a check for $300 a year or whatever than be nickel-and-dimed all year with requests for $5 for a contribution to the Thanksgiving feast, $100 to buy subscriptions to magazines that I don't have time to read, $50 for the teacher holiday gift fund, buying cookies I don't want to eat at the bake sale for the 8th grade outdoor ed program, etc., etc., etc.

    I do get the lesson some of these things are trying to teach: that the students have a role to play in supporting their own education and extracurricular opportunities. I also get that some parents (they usually seem to be stay-at-homes) actually appear to enjoy being involved in these things.

    To the extent fundraisers contribute to community-building at school and provide volunteer opportunities for parents who want to do that, I'm OK with that. I would prefer to see one event per year, like a carnival, where the parents and students are all involved as volunteers in different capacities.

    Otherwise I'd prefer to see all that volunteer energy devoted to providing logistical support for field trips, in the classroom, etc.

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  2. Don't forget that straight donations are tax deductible while "buying" useless junk / food isn't. You need a selection of giving mechanisms so that people can find the one that works best for them. That's why privates typically have both an annual fund and an auction or some other kind of event. But too many and people get overwhelmed I know at our school we've made a strong effort to focus on a smaller number of fundraising opportunities and we've seen our development income rise accordingly.

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  3. I totally object to turning kids into little salespeople of products where a cut goes to some middleman. No school should be using those companies. And we don't support the defense department with bake sales; why the %#$*# do we have to support schools with them? Just thinking about it makes me crazy.

    At the same time, one good reason to do fairs and so on is that some parents have time to contribute, not time (and are not able, for various reasons, to do things like aiding in the classroom or tutoring or whatever). So I'm with Anon #1 that a carnival or something is a good idea.

    One more thing: my kid's role in supporting her own education is to do the best she can in school, period. For a special trip, sure, let her help fundraise. But not for the everyday running of the school.

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  4. Oops, time to contribute, not money. Sorry!

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  5. My concern is with the third party fundraising devices -- catalogs and magazine subs. My kid's previous school really emphasized third party vehicles. I felt they helped the third party more than the school. Also, their prizes created pressure on kids to compete to sell more. Not healthy in my view. Much better are a combo of annual $ fundraisers, auctions, walkathons.

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  6. I hate the third party fundraisers where half the money goes to the companies selling the crap.
    I'd rather give ten bucks to the school, then have to pay twenty bucks to give the school ten bucks.

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  7. If parents put all the energy they put into raising money at schools, into electing better politicians, and lobbying the politicians for more money for schools, we'd be better off.

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  8. One of the things I loved about SF Community was that they had a "required" donation monthly to the school per family - and it was under 40 dollars a month. Can you imagine if every school did this what could be done with that money? I love this concept. I do not participate in the fundraising and I just write a check anyway. We do not have a large family, and not a large network of friends we feel comfortable asking for money. So, we just donate in the end. For many kids, these fundraisers are their only way to help the school and feel like they are contributing.

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  9. It can't be legal for a public school to "require" monthly donations.

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  10. It's absolutely not legal for a public school to require donations.

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  11. I went to a school like SF Community (it was a public school) as a child and every family was "required" to pay $35 a month, but there were scholarships available to any family that could not afford all or part of the fee.

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  12. Obviously you tards missed the quotations.

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  13. Know what royally pisses me off??? Alvarado has a donation option with Whole Foods. Completely unacceptable. that school takes in close to 300k a year in PTA funding and now bag donations at one of the busiest markets used by Noe, Mission, Glen Park , Castro, Bernal... So when is a struggling school like Paul Revere or John Muir ( not far from there) going to get these handsome handouts? Despicable.

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  14. 2:16, do you teach your kid hate speech like that?

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  15. 2:16, you are a nasty soul. Either you are required to donate, or donations are suggested. There is no such thing as "required" with air quotes. It's BS, and unless it's clearly stated that donations are only suggested, it is not legal.

    What I hate most about the school fundraiser stuff is the capitulation to the idea that we'll fill in the gaps left by the funding cuts with private dollars. A thousand points of light, indeed.

    On a more practical note, Daniel Webster Elementary over here in Potrero has a donation option with Whole Foods. Any enterprising PTA can get something like this set up.

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  16. 2:22, I'm assuming that so few John Muir and Paul Revere parents shop at WF that they haven't added those schools to their list. If some parents from those schools approached the managers at WF and made a request, I'd bet they'd add those schools to the donate list.

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  17. 2:22, I'm confused- Who is to blame here, Whole Foods for donating money to a public school or Alvarado for trying to raise money for their school in dismal financial times for schools? Doesn't seem to be a problem to me, perhaps you should direct some of your anger at people like 2:16 instead.

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  18. 730 - I would not call Alvarado a school struggling in dismal financial times. Parents from all over shop at that store, just as kids from all over go Alvarado. Schools should not be allowed on the charity listing at all, or all should be included, period. It is terribly unfair for a very wealthy school like Alvarado to be slurping up funding from WF like that.
    457 - if you consider that hate speech I would suggest you get yourself some therapy fast. Life is going to be very difficult for you and your children if you are unable to discern sarcasm from " hate speech " your being slow is not my fault, your missing quotations is not my fault and a school requiring or strongly suggesting a donation to their schools PTO equivalent is not my fault. You sensitivity to the term "tard" though, is your fault. Grow sow for the sake of your children. I bet you are the same troll claiming Don to be a troll. Nice.

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  19. Ignore the hateful, stupid, ignorant troll.

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  20. Dear 2:28,

    Whether I agree with you or not, nothing you have said is remotely hate speech. That doesn't matter to some people. You will be accused of hate speech just the same, as you have already discovered, whether your words are reasonable or not. These accusations are just the kind of tactics that are regularly employed on this blog when it comes to some opinions and the moderator doesn't seem to care. I get "stalker/creep" accusations on a regular basis. Of course that sort of thing is way over the line and is now illegal. As a family man and a person dedicated to public education it is alarming to see parents acting like that on a blog. But the internet is a club that is open to everyone most of the time and the better for it. You just have to expect that there will be some anomalous behavior. Good luck to you and keep your chin up.

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  21. Funny, haven't been on this page in a while, and without having read this discussion happened to notice today that Whole foods in Noe Vally now supports Miraloma (used to be Alvarado). I actually talked to the manager about it, and pointed out that thought they are great schools (I have friends with kids in both), they are also relatively "well off" given their strong PTAs, and that there were far poorer schools in their catchment area that could use their support more.

    She said that it was open to any school that applied (though I guess they decide in the end), and that there is an easy link on their web site. She did not seem to be aware of these differences between the schools in SF, but also open to the issue when I mentioned it, and there should be scope for anyone with kids in less well funded school to apply. She said they considered Mission part of their neighborhood. I did not get an impression from her that it was at all about who shopped at their store.

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  22. It may be that some stores don't consider a school worthy of investment unless they show signs of improvement. Not to suggest that is right, only that it is possible.

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  23. Decent human beings don't call people "tards". People who do that probably have children who are bullies, because those children learn the sick behavior from their parents.
    It is never ok to call someone a "tard".

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  24. 2:28 "You sensitivity to the term 'tard' though, is your fault. Grow sow for the sake of your children."

    OK, I am not even sure what "grow sow" means, but "tard" is, indeed, hate speech. I don't believe in hate speech legislation, but I sure as hell believe in civility. Adults, especially parents, should not call other adults names that would be called bullying words on a playground. And calling someone out on their ignorance or thoughtlessness is not the same as censoring them.

    And if you have a special ed or learning-disabled kid in your life, or you yourself grew up with a learning disability, my guess is that "tard" is an especially noxious word. That sensitivity is not "your fault." It's the fault of cruel and stupid people like 2:16/2:28. Don may feel differently, but other parents or friends of people who might be called "tard" are entitled to be upset.

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  25. 2:28's inability to write a coherent sentence is sort of ironic, don't you think?
    He's just trolling, the best thing to do is ignore him.

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  26. This blog has fallen into the toilet! It's disappointing.

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  27. For Revere, there's Good Life Grocery up the street from them, but I don't think Good Life have a donation program like Whole Foods.

    More generally, WE SHOULDN'T HAVE TO DONATE TO OUR SCHOOLS. Education is a right and necessary to our future: why the heck are parents having to do this fundraiser stuff, which in the end is inequitable?

    "She did not seem to be aware of these differences between the schools in SF, but also open to the issue when I mentioned it, and there should be scope for anyone with kids in less well funded school to apply."

    Remember tha schools like Revere or Muir get Title I funding, which certainly Revere is savvy enough to use well. Monroe got a big kick in the gonads last year when its test scores rose high enough that it became ineligible for a lot of additional funding, and the budget crisis meant that wheras in previous years there would have been a transitional period, they got hit with the funding drop all at once.

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  28. At Starr King we do a 'green' fundraiser. As in a letter goes out in the fall that says send us your green. One check and it's over. We do an auction in the spring that's fun, but the big money comes in the fall campaign.

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  29. I have never once replied regarding some silly argument of name-calling, but wow, someone who doesn't think the work tard is inappropriate? Wow. Although, I will thank you for showing your ignorance quickly and clearly so I can disregard any of your opinions re: our schools. On the right note, I agree that these fundraisers are annoying and it would be nice to get the money directly to the school. I think there just may be too many parents who can't do that (and they usually aren't parents who can give a lot of time due to work), so they need a manner in which to contribute.

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  30. At Grattan, we also focus on a large annual campaign and a spring auction and are fortunate to raise a substantial amount of money this way. IN many ways though this system necessarily leaves out about 30-40% of our school who simply cannot afford to participate. We make a substantial effort to emphasize that we value every contribution regardless of size and also that people give in many different ways, both of their time and money. That said, I know there were some folks who felt left out when we eliminated the other "wrapping paper" type sales. One thing that we've tried this year is to emphasize the value of escrip type programs. It's not hard to register your safeway card or visa with escrip and those dollars add up. This type of passive giving seems preferable to me than the wrapping paper/candy sales but it requires a bit more ongoing effort and quite a bit of up-front organization to get the necessary buy-in from the community.

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  31. 11:34 FYI Good Life Grocery does have a scrip program. My daughter's former preschool used it. My recollection is that it wasn't quite as generous as that of Rainbow Grocery (maybe 5% vs 10%), but still worth looking into.

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  32. The fact that someone would comment on a bit of name calling (which is admittedly pretty juvenile and pointless), but doesn't mind when a like-minded blogger makes false statements to discredit and impune an individual (me in this case) shows me that moral equivalency is only employed when it is to the advantage of the political group think - not that this comes as much of a surprise to me. Now that making such false statements about a person is a criminal offense we will see if this sort of thing continues and whether SF Kfiles aids and abets the behavior as a willing conduit for such illegal activity.

    As for my own pronouncements, if I say a district official did something wrong or illegal it is because I have proof of such.
    An example of late is Mr. Garcia's comments to the press about keeping schools in line with district homework policy (Examiner Nov.1). According to district sources the central office made no efforts whatsoever towards keeping schools in line with Board policy.

    Re: fundraisers - schools are free to raise funds as they wish within the law. Whether any given fundraising policy is right or wrong always comes down to political views and haves and have nots.

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  33. Ignore the trolling.

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  34. If what you really is to "ignore the troll" as you so often remark to our redundant displeasure, why do you keep bringing up the subject? Can ya please just give it a break? You're becoming an impossible bore.

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  35. This is soooo confusing. How did this thread go from school fundraisers to someone libeling Don? Was the key word "illegal," as in it's illegal to require donations to public schools? Was it "tard," a repulsive schoolyard taunt that somehow got hinged to Don's accusations about someone else's accusations?

    What the hell happens on this blog that every single thread disintegrates like this? My new theory is that Don is like those people the FBI supposedly paid to go disrupt activist organizations with weird, distracting behavior, rendering them completely dysfunctional. But SFK Files isn't an activist organization, so what's the good of disrupting it all the time? It's like going into a pickup basketball game and flinging badminton birdies around just for the hell of it. I completely don't get the purpose. And please don't link me to the definition of "troll" or tell me to "ignore the troll." I'd like a more nuanced explanation of what the motivation is here, from someone in the field of psychology.

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  36. They do it for fun because they like upsetting people.

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  37. "How did this thread go from school fundraisers to someone libeling Don? "

    It won't go there if we don't let him once again manipulate the discussion. Ignore him.

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  38. Advice for blogowner Amy:

    Unfortunately, it looks like you are now one of his latest targets. Save all the threatening venomous emails from him, they might come in handy later.

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  39. If I continue to read false and spurious posts intended to malign my character, I will be testing out the new law that has made such activity a crime. Whether SF K files is legally complicit for allowing illegal activity is not clear. But there is a clear qualitative and legal difference between one poster's schoolyard taunts (use of the word "'tard") and the kinds of accusations that have been hurled at me.

    I don't see anyone responding with indignation to that sort of base behavior, but if I respond by asserting that the allegations are wrong, that is to say, if I defend myself against such baseless accusations, I am accused of being like an FBI agent whose purpose is to destroy the blog.

    If the blog wants respectability, its moderator should not allow commentary that is unlawful. There is no such thing as anonymity on line.

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  40. OMG. How dumb can a person get? The new law is about impersonating people online. Libel laws already exist.

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  41. Thank you for informing me of the exact nature of the new law which I did not read. What this means to me is that all previous libels against me stand as unlawful. Whomever it is that makes these accusations, I hope you consider carefully what you are doing when you accuse someone wrongfully of breaking the law.

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  42. So, he doesn't read the new law, or know anything about it, but feebly attempts to threaten blog users with it?

    Good God, Amy, please block his IP address, enough is enough.

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  43. trying to be open-mindedJanuary 4, 2011 at 9:59 PM

    I think most of us are aware of the fact that "Moggy" posts repeatedly and anonymously but with such a distinctive writing style she could just as well sign her posts. Don's style is also very distinctive and his posts (usually) under his own name. Various other people expressing their own opinions have posted to agree with one or the other (or neither) of them. Moggy, Don, and the various other posters accused of being Moggy or Don are not "trolls" but parents stating their (often different, sometimes contentious) viewpoints. As long as responses are respectful (which, admittedly is not always the case) I don't see a problem. As a new SFUSD parent, it's helpful for me to glean all this information and to hear a variety of points of view.

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  44. I'll accusation of stupidity is one of the nicest things you've ever had to say to me and, coming from you, it is quite the compliment. Perhaps your exhortations and pleadings to God will be heard.

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  45. Can we discuss fundraising?

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  46. Please stop letting him take over every conversation. The only way to do that is to not respond at all to him. He's now starting to use profanity, on another thread, so odds are it is going to get worse and worse.

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