Adequacy front page
Stories Diaries Polls Users

Home About Topics Rejects Abortions
This is an archive site only. It is no longer maintained. You can not post comments. You can not make an account. Your email will not be read. Please read this page if you have questions.
 Public School (And Other) Charities

 Author:  Topic:  Posted:
Feb 08, 2002

The last week or so has been uneventful with the small exception of what is now becoming a near-nightly ritual. 'Tis the season for public school fundraisers, apparently. I am conflicted.


More diaries by doofus
Is Your Child a Taliban?
I Despise the Olympics
Someone Help This Poor Guy
Why Is Gitmo Gone?
I *am* somebody!!
Weekend Socializing
Islamic Ji-ography
Didn't Anyone Help This Guy?
Mortality Forcibly Reconsidered
Oh Dear!
I Am A Criminal Suspect (Apparently)
Cheers for Le Tour de France
The Spec Is Nearing Initial Release
Prosyletizing Long-Lost Friends

First, some background information.

I am what is commonly called a "bachelor." I own a house in a nice if somewhat cookie-cutter-like housing development in a Southern California beachtown. It's on a cul-de-sac and almost every house is a proper American family. Surprisingly in this age, most of the Moms on the block stay home while the husband goes off to earn the daily bread.

Since I have no kids of my own I have no idea what the standard wage is for paying kids for little chores they ask to do. I have gotten the reputation as the "go-to" guy for $2 leaf raking or weed-pulling jobs (these kids are all young grade schoolers; $2 is lot of money, apparently).

And so, for the last few evenings, within a few minutes of arriving home the doorbell rings and it's some tyke asking me to support the school.

The little guys are selling frozen pizzas, 5 to a pack for $11 (of which they keep a total of $4.40 for each pack) or pushing "Jump Rope for Heart Research" donations. I gave the 8 year old $10 for her heart research jump rope-a-thon and $22 (2 pizza packs) to the 10 year-old for the school band fund. Tonight the home-schooled 14 year-old came over to ask for a donation to World Vision.

I guess my (minor) confliction is as follows: In the case of the band fund pizzas, I am not sure I want to perpetuate a city and county budget policy that chronically underfunds schools for arts and music. I consider art and music at least as important as the standard 3 R's and certainly far more important than interscholastic sports. It also seems unfair in some way that the schools in the more affluent neighborhoods get better stuff than the schools in the less affluent ones. On the other hand, there's no realistic way to get the money to the schools directly. If I want these kids to have the same opportunities I had as a kid (which included music in junior high and high school), maybe I need to crowbar open the wallet and give until it feels good. It's certainly not the 10 year old's fault that the adults won't fund his education at an appropriate level. Music also takes up another period in a school day; any activity that keeps kids in school is a good thing.

My conflict with the jump-rope-a-thon and the World Vision request is that big money charities are using kids to do their fundraising. The kids learn a little bit about charity and giving and a little bit about salesmanship and hucksterism, but the parents have ample opportunities to teach them that without the school's involvement. But, again, it's not the 8 year-old's fault.

I suppose ultimately *I* am the real problem. If schools and charities didn't get money from me and others like me they wouldn't use this tactic.


What amuses me the most .. (none / 0) (#1)
by seventypercent on Fri Feb 8th, 2002 at 08:58:52 PM PST
.. is when kids come to the door accompanied by their parent(s) to sell things, and the parent(s) end up doing all the talking. I've seen it plenty of times for everything from Girl Scout cookies to microwave popcorn sales for the local Methodist church. The kids just sort of shift their weight from one foot to the other and stare off into space while the parent(s) pitch the loot. It's kind of amusing, but I suppose we were all there at one point or another.

That having been said, there are some good things you can get your hands on. I was hosting a poker tournament one evening and realized that I had very little in the way of snack food (though I had plenty of beer) and lo and behold, the Boy Scouts came to the door selling cans of flavored peanuts! What perfect timing! Girl Scout cookies are good snacking, and $11 for 5 pizzas doesn't sound like a bad deal at all. I'll take elementary-school salespeople over Jehovah's Witnesses any day, thank you very much.

Red-blooded patriots do not use Linux.

I Make 'em Work For it (none / 0) (#4)
by doofus on Sat Feb 9th, 2002 at 12:26:01 AM PST
When the tyke comes over it's never solo; there's always a support staff of the other kids. It is fun and amusing to listen to the pitch. Invariably the brother or one of the other ones jump in with "helpful information." I always tell those guys to pipe down, I want to hear it from the commanding tyke. Ultimately I end up going over to the kid's house and asking the Mom a few questions and then basically ask the same questions to the kid to get her to answer them and then out comes the check book with the now neighborhood-famous female art nudes checks in them. "Here' sweetie, here's a check for $10. Make sure you show your teacher the check, OK?" Yes, it IS better than Jehovah's Witnesses, that's for damn sure.

Contributions (none / 0) (#2)
by SpaceGhoti on Fri Feb 8th, 2002 at 09:28:22 PM PST
Yes, you are part of the problem. And you're also part of the solution.

At some point, the bureaucracy for your local school system decided that it would be better to fund sports instead of music. This is not necessarily a new development, but it certainly shows some rather skewed priorities. The frustrating part is that this change was probably encouraged by parents who wanted to see their children taking a more active part in sporting events, which have a high profile.

Personally, I would argue for more funding toward the arts instead of sports. I'd rather see children have to go door-to-door to beg for funds to take a trip to the neighboring town for a sporting event. I'd rather have the children interested in music be given all they need. But that isn't a priority right now.

You are not going to change this all by yourself. You may not see it change in the foreseeable future. But you can help it change. You're helping to keep the music program going by your contributions. Also by your contributions, the school boards are getting two messages: you consider music and arts an important part of childrens' education, and every dollar you contribute is a dollar they can spend elsewhere, like in sporting events.

It's a tough position, and certainly not fair. But if you stop contributing, it's just as likely that the children will receive no funding whatsoever. You have the unenviable choice of the lesser of two evils.

A troll's true colors.

I wish (none / 0) (#3)
by osm on Fri Feb 8th, 2002 at 10:59:42 PM PST
girlscouts would try to sell me stuff.

Girlscouts (none / 0) (#10)
by aoc on Sat Feb 9th, 2002 at 09:46:20 PM PST
Their bodies, specifically?

I think (none / 0) (#12)
by hauntedattics on Sun Feb 10th, 2002 at 03:35:04 PM PST
your visions of Girl Scouts are somewhat idealized. All of the ones I've encountered recently have been between 8 and 11, with bad hair, protruding stomachs and all of the other unfortunate physical characteristics of pre-pubescents.

Unless this is some sort of perverse turn-on?


Nostalgia. (none / 0) (#6)
by hauntedattics on Sat Feb 9th, 2002 at 03:16:12 PM PST
At my previous place of residence, there were several elementary school-age children in the immediate neighborhood. One day after a particularly frustrating and stressful day at work, I pulled my car into my driveway and turned off the ignition.

Literally seconds later, one of the neighborhood girls approached me and thrust a catalogue in my face. "Will you buy some wrapping paper for my school _____?" (band? art class? trip to New York? Can't remember.)

I tried to modulate my voice as I replied, "Can you come back to my house in a little while and then I'll look at the catalogue???" I must not have succeeded, however, because not only did she not come back later, she and her friends always gave my house a wide berth in the ensuing weeks. Ah, the joys of freaking out children...

Of course, if she'd been selling pizzas, or candy bars, I'd have bought 10 immediately.

Great Diary Entry (none / 0) (#7)
by John Wainright on Sat Feb 9th, 2002 at 03:53:07 PM PST
I too have a big problem with this.
Lately it seems with my children's schools that the fundraisers are anything but "fun". When I was in school it was mostly candy for the band, or nuts and the like for something else.
The unpopular sales were the ones that were for non-consumables.
I am known as the uncle that will regularly lay down $50 to $100 per nephew/niece that comes around selling goodies. Imagine my joy when my own children were to participate in what has become a requirement for some schools.
But it quickly turned to horror when daughter #1 comes home bright eyed and loudly proclaims: "Hey Dad! Do you want to buy a magazine?"
My wife and I quickly huddled to discuss the situation and responded, "We will look into it." The tyke then bounces off happily.
My wife contacts the school. The explanation they receive is that the School receives more money for these Items, and the teachers don't have the headache of inventory.
My God. The lazy bastards. Most of the magazines on the list weren't worth the subscription and those that were we already received. Later in the year she came home with coupon books. Apparently the same philosophy applied with these items.
So it came down to the point where in private I tell my children that their teachers and faculty are lazy bastards, who have no sense of tradition. I also tell them that the harder they study the quicker they will be out from under their thumb.

I like the magazines (none / 0) (#8)
by First Incision on Sat Feb 9th, 2002 at 04:45:43 PM PST
My Dad got a bunch of magazine subscriptions from a relative or something. Now when I visit home, there is always a large stack of "Scientific American" and "Popular Science" for me to peruse. Also, my Dad has become more interesting to talk to, because he is now more informed.
Do you suffer from late-night hacking? Ask your doctor about Protonix.

Sorry if i was misunderstood (none / 0) (#9)
by John Wainright on Sat Feb 9th, 2002 at 06:46:17 PM PST
I didn't mean to imply that magazine themselves were bad. As a family we already subscribe to many fine periodicals.
My point was that the schools are getting lazy with their offerings.
I'm more apt to purchace several boxes of crunchy fudgie bars as opposed to several magazine subscriptions.

door to door sales consumes a lot of energy (5.00 / 1) (#11)
by Anonymous Reader on Sun Feb 10th, 2002 at 09:33:24 AM PST
"Hey Dad! Do you want to buy a magazine?"

This is better than "Hey Dad! I ate most of the chocolates I was supposed to sell."


All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments are owned by the Poster. The Rest ® 2001, 2002, 2003 The name, logo, symbol, and taglines "News for Grown-Ups", "Most Controversial Site on the Internet", "Linux Zealot", and "He just loves Open Source Software", and the RGB color value: D7D7D7 are trademarks of No part of this site may be republished or reproduced in whatever form without prior written permission by and, if and when applicable, prior written permission by the contributing author(s), artist(s), or user(s). Any inquiries are directed to