Tuesday, September 02, 2008

School fund-raisers

Can I just say that I think there is something absolutely immoral about using children to raise funds for anything? I’m talking particularly about the obscene School Fundraiser. You know, the ones where the kids attend an assembly (parents not invited) at which professional “motivational” people show them slides and videos of all the cool STUFF they could earn—slide after slide, visual after visual, blatantly appealing to the kids’ GREED for stuffstuffstuffstuffstuff—and then spend ninety seconds explaining how they hit people up to order STUFF in order to earn these rewards. Disgusting!

I happened to sit in on the assembly this year because of a mistake in scheduling for my classroom volunteer time. You would not believe the cheers and screaming from these kids when they saw what they could earn. Of course, the presenters show the smallest prize first (a glow-in-the-dark necklace! For just five orders!) and then they move gradually up to the biggest (an i-pod! For just 250 orders!). These kids practically took the roof off the gymn with their screams when they saw that. And of course, here they came at the end of the day with their precious catalogs and PRIZE BROCHURES clutched under their arms, ready to hit up the parents, the neighbors, grandma and grandpa and dad’s coworkers so they could get their precious i-pods.

(And I won’t even get into the amazing rip-off that these catalogs are full of. $9.00 for 7 ounces of chocolate-covered almonds?????)

What a very clear refresher course in some of the reasons I do NOT like capitalism. I’m sorry if that is offensive to your “this country was established by God on the godly principle of greed--oops I mean capitalism” philosophy. But I do NOT believe it is healthy to bombard people constantly with visions of stuff they don’t need—especially when these people are young children. It’s hard enough to try to limit the materialism in my children’s world without their SCHOOL CRAMMING IT DOWN THEIR THROATS!!!! It sends mixed signals when a child’s school (a major force of authority in his life) appears to “assign” him to go out and sell stuff. No, I’m wrong. It is NOT a mixed signal. It is a very clear signal about society—-but one I HATE, and one that has NO BUSINESS being in the schools.

If you need money, ask me for it, please. None of this child prostitution.

(Wait a minute. They DO keep asking us to write checks in the form of higher taxes for education. And I am absolutely willing to pay them. But there are many, many people unwilling to do so. Capitalists, all of them. [Insert winking smiley here because I want you to still like me even though you are a gun-totin' patriot].)


Anonymous said...

I'm about to disagree with you -- delete at will (of course.)

I'm one who doesn't think capitalists and child-exploiters are necessarily always one and the same. I'm largely in favor of capitalism, but very (VERY) much opposed to using kids to sell crap. I just don't think you have to be anti-capitalist to have a conscience about how you treat kids. Our kids' school has an elaborate, complex, time-consuming fund-raising carnival each year and (although I think it's much better than the horrible fund-raisers like the one your school is doing) when they sent home a survey one year to see whether we'd rather discontinue the carnival and just donate directly, I said I'd MUCH prefer to donate directly. I must have been in the minority, though, since they still have the carnival. I always willingly donate to my kids' schools, in addition to supporting taxes for schools. I don't think capitalism is the perfect system that we'll have in the Millenium, but I think that in many ways it's worked better than other social experiments. (For that matter, some socialists and communists have gone WAY beyond bad fund-raisers in the things they've done to exploit children.)

BTW, red-neck red-stater conservatives (whom I assumed you meant by "patriots") give a FAR greater proportion of their income to private charitable organizations than the folks in blue states. I guess liberals just think the state should take their money for them, rather than their voluntarily donating it -- or they prefer state solutions over private solutions. (But since the red-staters still have to pay taxes, too, they do end up being the most generous overall, at least in terms of cash contributions.)

Anonymous said...

S'matter of fact, if I've got the right understanding of "capitalism" (which I very well might not) then capitalism depends on competition and free market forces -- which school fundraisers do NOT. In a true capitalist market system, nobody pays that much for chocolate when they can get it so much cheaper at the grocery store. So the fundraisers are depending on manipulation of peoples' heartstrings and are not truly competing in a fair marketplace. The fundraisers fail if people instead rely on the instincts we've honed in our capitalist culture -- to get the most product we can for the smallest price.

Darlene said...


I stand corrected! Thanks for pointing out how the fund-raiser is not in a free-market system. I understand (and like) the free-agency basis of capitalism. My problem is with the appeal to greed inherent in making the system work. Advertising, materialism. And I apologize for cheaply and lazily lumping everyone who appreciates a free market system into the category of red-necks. I really did mean that as a gross exaggeration (joke), but I guess it didn't come off that way.

Michelle said...

Thanks for writing this. I too despise the fundraisers. My kids simply know that I throw the packets away every year.

And may I mention that volunteering in your son's classroom(good for you!) is more valuable than any amount of $$.

Anonymous said...

:) I'm glad I didn't offend you too much. And I can certainly join you in hate, hate, hating the schools' promoting this kind of enterprise.

Kristi Stevens said...

Amen. I won't bother to list all the eight dollar pity purchases I've made so some poor child can try to win the ipod. It's criminal I tell you. I wonder why the schools allow this. You should seriously think about writing a book of essays on such things. So funny.

Dave said...

I agree with those who've made comments so far. Capitalism, based on free market competition and the forces of supply and demand is the protector of the consumer and the catalyst that promotes efficiency and quality. This is case of greedy government schools making an attempt to use our children to guilt parents into making a "donation" to a cause that we're already being forced to fund through taxes. If the government would get out of education and allow the private sector to run schools, we'd get a better product for a lower cost--without the cheesy fundraisers.

Erika said...

Why would some schools try to raise funds by doing this kind of activity? There are a lot of other ways for schools to raise funds. It's not at all justifiable for kids to somehow beg their parents to buy something that isn't worth the real price just for the sake of the much bigger prize they will receive once they've reached the exact amount for the biggest showcase.

I too, despise this kind of activity for schools to raise funds. Why won't they try something much enjoyable? Or if not, just ask some donations directly from parents if they really have no idea on what fund raising project to start with.