Every year our electives need to hustle just to continue the availability of some of those classes and activities that are the only thing keeping some students coming back to the joint day after day. For some kids, electives are the only thing that keeps them at school, and if the school disbands them due to lack of funds, it is indeed the schools Leaving these Childen Behind.
Of the money a school receives, 80% goes to the salaries and benefits for its employees: from the teachers to the custodians, the secretaries to the vice-principal. This means that the remaining 20% has to come from somewhere.
“But where’s all that lottery money?” you might ask.
“Oh,” I say. “That only brings in < 1%. Probably the same amount you spent last year on those faux-silver, scratch cards you call hope.” No offense.
So each year, our ASB needs to raise money to fund the dances, the DC trip needs to raise money to help the kids who can’t get it themselves, the orchestra needs to raise money to get bow-ties for 6th Grade Band, the Speech and Debate class needs money to get a bus to take them to a tournament, and the P.E. Dept just needs a damn grassy area. The list goes on. And we’re the lucky school that still even has PE in this day and age of childhood obesity! (Sorry, I’ll try to use the ! sparingly.) So, with the passing of this law, and it’s a well-intentioned, legitimate, had-to-be-done law, came the increase of…you guessed it: more work for the teacher.
Despite the addition of having to fundraise, one thing I am glad we disbanded was our allegiance to the annual magazine drive. We would all be pulled out of class to watch the kids leap around and compete for a dollar while some part-time snake oil salesmen promised everything from Hummer rides to MP3 players if the students hustled to sell magazines. He’d throw a dollar in the air and kids would scramble like desperate bridesmaids. They’d fart on command for a buck, I tell you. It was embarrassing to watch, and it brought out the worst in the kids. The message was clear: SELL, SELL, SELL. But what the kids didn’t realize was that while some of the money went back to the school, the majority actually went into the hands of the magazine company. Our students were being pimped for TeenBeat! We were right to do a way with our association with the company, but what do we do now?
Creative fundrasing is the answer. Check out this article from Education World. It offers a little advice on the subject, but nowhere near what we all need. Because all this hustling still means more work for less money. Kids are giving up their weekends to conduct car washes that bring in only a few hundred bucks a weekend. Organizations have taken to selling the same Oriental Trading Store neon rubber bracelet, so much so, that I swear I’m flashing back to my “Like A Virgin” days. So, I repeat, districts need to (Megaphone please) Fund The Programs.
Let teachers do what they do best: they teach. They shouldn’t have to produce, publicize, or finance. In some cases, you’re asking the doctor in the audience of Blue Man Group to don some crimson latex and bang on some drums. Being good at one does not mean that you will be good at the other….and yet the other is now required…and then “they” start talking about merit pay…
But that is for another entry.
“Love it or Leave it.”