I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the economy sucks right now. I’m going to assume that you don’t need a link to a current news article to know that things are bad all over.
My family is one of the lucky ones. We both have jobs, can pay our mortgage, put food on the table and still afford a few small luxuries. But we’re definitely being more careful than we were a year (or two) ago. I know most people in our area are in similar situations or worse. Much, much worse in some cases.
At the same time, the public school systems are suffering. Badly.
School boards in Florida (where I live) have tossed around cost saving ideas from laying off armies of teachers to pairing down to a 4 day school week. The fact that Florida has no state income tax doesn’t help. We know our schools need money.
And yet, every time I get yet another fundraiser letter sent home, I can’t help but shake my head and feel a little like a well that’s been pumped dry.
Chocolate bars. Books. Magazine subscription. Gourmet popcorn. Scented candles. Every week it seems my son’s elementary school is encouraging me to buy yet another frivolous item with a reminder that a portion of proceeds will go to your child’s school that is desperate for money. Oh, and your child has a chance to win some ridiculous plastic trinket as a reward for selling stuff.
I’m frustrated because many of these fundraisers are based around items I wouldn’t buy in a good economy and things I’ve definitely eliminated in a crap economy. But most importantly, I know how little of my money will actually end up going to support the school itself.
For starters, those plastic trinkets that I’ll find in the bottom of my son’s bookbag after the last day of school? Completely unnecessary. I’d rather see my money going towards supplies for his classroom.
And what about the majority of money going to the fundraising company? While I want to do what I can to keep manufacturers open and jobs available, my first priority when writing that particular check is to help fund my son’s education. I hate the idea that $49 of that $50 box of chocolates is going to some company that I have no loyalty to.
Of course, I don’t feel like I can explain that to my son. By the time he comes home with the note in hand, he’s already been told that he’s helping to raise money for his school and concluded that if your parents don’t buy this soy candle it means they don’t love you or care about your education. It’s not easy explaining things like “overhead” and “waste” to a nine year old boy.
I’d prefer if my school district would simply solicit donations. Or maybe there’s some pact we can sign that says “in exchange for not participating in any of this year’s frivolous fundraisers, I will send you a check one time for XX amount of dollars.” Surely there’s a way to turn that into a tax deduction, right?
Am I the only Scrooge wanting to check out of the never ending fundraiser race?
Has anyone else found a more effective way of supporting their local school system in a bad economy?
Photo by Jenn Jenn on FlickR