Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Opt-Out

DISCLAIMER - It is not the intent of the author to offend or harm any readers, especially those readers who may be educators, parents of students or parent-volunteers/PTA members. Please note the views expressed herein are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of other slacker moms. Oh yeah, and objects in mirror may be larger than they appear. :)

All right, so I was gonna let this one slide, but then I thought, "Nah... what fun would THAT be?"

Wanna know what else I can't stand besides signing Student Planners and Reading Logs? Yep. I knew you would!

School fund-raisers. Bleh! HATE.THEM. Wanna know WHY I hate them? Besides the fact that they remind me of political candidates soliciting for campaign funds and the one with the most money wins? Ummm... well, that is pretty much the reason. That and because I am a Slacker Mom and Fund-Raisers take up a lot of time.

Face it. Fund-raisers are mere manipulation tactics to get kids to do the grunt work for the adults in charge. Hahaha! I remember when I was a kid, all of the fund-raisers we had. Raffle tickets for Little League. Candy Bars for Choir. Wrapping paper and Holiday Tins for the PTA. Selling tickets for Chili Suppers, Fish Fry's, Port-a-pit chicken, and so on and so forth. Here is how it went down...

There'd be some assembly put on by some high-enthusiastic individual so smooth he could sell contacts to a blind man! He'd spend about 35 minutes brainwashing the entire student body into believing that for "only" getting a certain number of sales, they could WIN ALL of these FABULOUS PRIZES!!! The Big News would be buzzing through the corridors for the rest of the day as the bright white packets containing carbon copy order forms were tucked into backpacks just itching to get home and start the selling! The smooth sales man made it sound so simple. Just a few phone calls to a grandma or neighbor telling them what you need their order for and - BAM! Just like that, you could have a sale! Who wouldn't want to support a kid, right?

The problem was there 7 of us kids and usually only 1 relative that would ever buy anything from us anyway. The rest were either Amish or out of the area. My parents didn't really have extra $$ to be buying fancy tins of English Toffee. Next we'd dig out the church directory and divide up amongst us whom would call whom. Usually we'd each call 4-5 members of the congregation and then be lucky if ONE committed to ordering. Then, it was off to pound the pavement and knock some doors. We'd go in pairs, like little proselytizers trying to convince the neighbors why they needed to spend $16.50 on a small tin of caramel corn (serving size 1.5). We weren't rich and therefore didn't live in a rich neighborhood. The majority of residents within a 2 block radius of our house were elderly people on fixed incomes. Like they were going to spend $16.50 on popcorn!

Then, Monday would roll around and a few of us would skip happily to school, fund-raiser packets in tote THRILLED at the 1 or 2 sales we managed to scrounge up only to find out that someone like Angie Troyer (whose father owned Troyer Poultry) had over 1,000 orders for fancy-schmancy, overpriced, chocolate-covered pretzels and double-dipped Christmas cookies! All she had to do was spend one afternoon at her daddy's office and ~ BAM!~ She became the proud winner of the pair of free Roller Rink passes and the brand new DISC CAMERA, not to mention a Swatch Watch complete with Swatch Guard! Yep... that is pretty much how it went down every.stinkin.year. (Although, I will say that Angie was my friend and I was happy for her.)

So fast forward to now. My kids have fund-raisers and not only do I NOT live in a rich neighborhood amongst people whom have money to spend, but many of my neighbors have kids, which means they also have fund-raisers. I only had 6 siblings to compete with on my block! It doesn't help that my church directory is also filled with about 90% of my neighbors. Relatives are spread far, which means the *best* way (according to the hyper-active, hyper-drive sales guru) to make sales is "have mom or dad take it to work and ask their co-workers!" Yeah, my office has a total of 5 people. We've all had hours/pay cut... so asking them to shell out $$ for wrapping paper, well... there never really seems like the right time to do just that.

That means, what ends up happening, is I feel so guilty, I buy 1 item from each of my kids, cuz y'know I need more frozen cookie dough like I need another hole in the head! And I am sure when they return to school with their pitiful order sheet, they have to sit through the congratulatory praises of their own Angie Troyers.

My simple solution? The Opt-Out. I think at the beginning of each school year parents should be able to sign a form -- a waiver -- "opting out" of fund-raisers for the ENTIRE.YEAR. Heck, I'd even pay $10-$20 to opt out of even RECEIVING fund-raiser crap sent home with my child. In fact, I am wondering if every parent was given that choice at the beginning of the year, how many would actually jump on that chance?

Don't get me wrong... I am supportive of my kids. I just don't like the stress of begging my friends for money on behalf of my children. I am NOT a born salesman and I really do not enjoy it.

I will say one of the best fundraisers I ever saw was in my high school. The music department had the MPA (Music Parents Association). Sort of like a PTA just for the music dept. One year, for the fund-raiser, they had the BOARD members doing the fund-raising, which was selling take & bake pizzas. It was a great idea and worked well. The adults made the calls and sent out the order forms to the other parents.

I am all for better programs and education. I just hate the AMOUNT or INTENSITY of the fund-raisers the schools participate in. I much prefer "The Opt-Out!" haha!

What about you? Does your child's school have a ton of fund-raisers? If you had the choice of an Opt-Out how much would you be willing to pay?


Megan said...

I've often wondered if we wouldn't be better off just asking for donations. Nobody really wants the crap the kids sell. Do they? And how much of the money actually goes to the school in the end?

I'd rather give 5 bucks TO THE SCHOOL than pay 16.50 for some popcorn and in the end only 5 bucks goes to the school, ya know?

I know schools need money, but there's gotta be a better way.

Ruthykins said...

yeah,school fund raisers. i live in an apartment complex filled with kids that go to andy's school. i can't ask my neighbors because they are already buying from their own kids. we actually got seven orders for andy. three from us and two from each set of grandparents. this chocolate better be pretty freakin' amazing for the price we paid.

Susie said...

I am the Vice-President of our PTO and we only do ONE fundraiser a year and it was held yesterday! The kids go out and get pledges and they walk! No frozen wrapping paper or cans of nuts...AND the children get physical activity too! We raised 1000's of dollars for a new playground! I love our school and our innovative ways:-)

RhondaLue said...

Oh my heck. we are soul sisters.

I hate fund raisers even when my kids aren't selling. If a neighbor kid is selling $1 candy bars my kid is bugging me every day to spend his bday money on the overpriced chocolate. Never mind the fact that the store has candy bars (better tasting ones) at 3 for $1 but I don't have time to take him to the store at his every whim so he spends his bday money on the stupid neighbors fundraising chocolate bars. what a crock.

I tell my kids no,that we won't be participating because I don't like to guilt family and friends into buying things so he can get a fuzzy sticker. Because that is about all he'll get. DESPISE fundraisers. But I actually despise the homework logs and signature sheets more. Because they are in my face every day. times a bunch of kids. ugh. lol

Puphigirl said...

I remember selling the apples & oranges for choir, chocolate candy bars, cheese spread in crocks and sausage, and raising money for St. Jude's childrens hospital.

Cassie the Sassie Lassie said...

Yes, we DO have those people, and my brother has those Angie kids in his class, and trust me, they have only gotten more annoying!

Sometimes we feel bad and buy one or two, and sometimes our family relations pull through...

I really liked that cookie said...

Seriously?!?!?! Something like that would NeVeR be found in a Danish school! DO they seriously turn little kids into throat biting sellers... wow... I'm stunned

Big Sis said...

I am soooo on your band wagon. We are dealing with school and scouting (uugghh)!

Ruthykins said...

just as true today as it was last year. I've got two nieces and a nephew all doing the same fundraiser right now