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Pledge Now: Kindergartners Are Standing By

Between the wrapping paper and cookie dough, sometimes the idea of fundraising gets lost in translation for the little ones.

I have absolutely no intention of going to Stevie B’s for dinner. I’ve already taken chicken out of the freezer and it is marinating in the fridge. This new is exceptionally distressing to my kindergartner.

“But mom, tonight is school night at Stevie B’s,” she said. “Look, I have the sticker, we have to go.”

My 6-year-old is a play-by-the-rules girl. She strives to follow the letter and spirit of the law whenever possible. She’s not a risk taker. While the other kids sit on their scooters and skateboards and go barreling down the hill towards the empty lot, she sits on the curb and counts dandelions.  

When there is a herd in front of the TV, arguing over whose turn it is to wave the glowing controller to the PS3, she can be found at the dining room table figuring problems in her math workbook. It’s that type of personality that is particularly susceptible to the frequent and fervent attacks from the school, or more precisely, its partners.

I’ve never been told what exactly the school gets out of selling wrapping paper, or by placing stickers on kids’ chests reminding them to go to the local steakhouse for dinner. Nor exactly who benefits from a Boosterthon. The communication home from the school is exceptionally lacking in this regard.

We are completely aware that an event is taking place. Well, for the kindergarten at least. Her little brain is a steel trap and she can tell us all about the yellow van that passed by two years ago while in this parking lot when her brother had to pee behind the building because they were closed. This memory also feeds messages to her mouth which tells us repeatedly; I need to go to the website, we need to call and get pledges, we have to go to dinner, there are only four days left, mom.

The problem here is the urgency and desperation in her requests. She has taken the fund-raising message as the most serious of clarion calls to action. She feels that this particular directive coming from the teacher is required, of utmost importance, and is a serious matter. She hasn’t yet learned how to ignore the fluff, do what she can, then let it go. We must go to Chick-Fil-A tonight. It’s important.

I am very suspicious about these events. There is always a corporation behind them, no release about how much benefit the school receives, if anything, and no accountability that I have been made aware of. When we trudge door-to-door, suckering neighbors and relatives to spend $32 on three rolls of wrapping paper, where does that money really end up? I suspect that the school gets a dollar or two of the profit, but with tens of dollars of mark up, I’m pretty sure it’s the company printing catalogs that makes the bulk of the profit for sending out their child labor soldiers by the urgent directive from their teachers.  

This is not to say that I don’t feel the schools need the money. I know for an absolute fact that they do. I just wish the system would be more ingenuous about the whole thing, and give them a shoebox to decorate with school pictures and drawings, then send them to relatives and neighbors, asking for change or cash donation towards buying the classroom a computer, craft table, or even a class snake.  I’m far more likely to put a $20 in that box than I am to buy wrapping paper in March. I can’t even imagine how much of the stuff I’d have to buy in order to get the same $20 into her teacher’s hands.

Our family is lucky that our older three didn’t feel this innate need to please the every directive of their teachers. While I wish they would listen a little more when their teacher are talking about presidents or division, I wish my kindergartner could tune out just a little bit of the fund raising noise.

Besides, I’ve already got 20 rolls of wrapping paper in the basement I bought from the clearance boxes at Target.

Emma March 02, 2011 at 04:55 PM
Great Job, Jodi! Shelby has the same issue. Don't forget the Book Fair! The books are double what you can buy them for online and I have no clue what share the school receives. They even want parents to volunteer at it.
Jim Thomas March 07, 2011 at 01:39 PM
Yes, as a Dad and grand-dad I agree. Teach but don't manipulate our kids!
Jodi Francis March 10, 2011 at 01:34 AM
I really appreciate the feedback! Thanks for reading.

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