Each week, an educator takes a stand or shares an Aha! moment in the classroom in Education World's Voice of Experience column. This week, educator Rich Henderson asks, "Are we supposed to be teaching our kids to read or sell door to door?" He rails against the need to hold bake sales, box top collecting drives, and cow chip bingo games to buy what taxpayers should already be providing! Included: A chance to Join the Discussion! Are fund-raisers the way to go -- or should they just go away?
Some things just don't make sense to me. Drinking a diet soda with pizza, wearing black socks with Bermuda shorts, and Einstein's Theory of Relativity are a few of the notions I will never comprehend.
One idea, however, among all the incomprehensible concepts I've encountered, befuddles me most of all -- school fund-raisers.
Why do we have school fund-raisers? What's the point? Sure, they raise money. Yes, they help schools purchase such necessities as books, supplies, and computers. But why? Why are our schools placed in the unenviable position of asking students to sell, sell, sell? When did our priorities shift away from making sure our schools were supplied with all the needed tools to grow a child's mind? When did purchasing tins of white-chocolate glazed pretzels come to equal a math textbook?
Many schools receive inadequate funding from municipal, state, and federal governments. Tight budgets compel schools to find other ways of securing needed revenues and supplies. Holding fund-raising events, saving cash register receipts, and begging for corporate donations are among the options.
Those methods of raising funds are commonplace in many school districts, but why are they even acceptable? Why are seven- and eight-year-olds selling wrapping paper, ribbon candy, and magazines door to door? Children should not have to sell, sell, sell in order to have essential learning materials. Parents should not have to collect box tops to assist schools in purchasing needed supplies. Private industry should not have to donate money to help keep our schools afloat.
What can citizens do to make sure our schools are sufficiently funded? First, we should be doing a better job of prioritizing our tax dollars. We should attend school budget meetings to make our feelings known. We should urge those in decision-making positions to support adequate school funding. We should demand that schools receive what they need so that our children's education will not be based on the art of selling but in the arts. We should be -- and we must be -- advocates for our children.
Our focus and our tax dollars must be placed where they will generate the greatest return -- they must be used to provide a complete, well rounded, sufficiently funded education for our children. Our children are our future -- and they should not have to sell baked goods to ensure that future. Our children's education should be free. They should not be shortchanged. If that means that I never eat another white-chocolate covered pretzel, so be it.