A mother in New Jersey got a rude surprise from her child recently:
I am looking for your opinions and insights based upon a very distressing situation my youngest daughter brought to my attention last week involving a school fundraiser.
As both she and the letter she handed me stated, my daughter was to accomplish chores around the house with the goal of being paid by me for those chores the sum of $20. She would then have to hand the full $20 over to the school to make up for the shortfall in their overall budget which, ultimately, disallowed the kids to go on yet another class trip. Participation was mandatory according to what my daughter told me and the letter seemingly conveyed (however, on a later phone call, my daughter’s teacher altered the word “mandatory” to be “suggested” despite all evidence to the contrary).
The extent in which the teacher tried to convince me that this fundraiser and the lesson held within was in the best interest of the children was rather sickening especially as paying my children to undertake family chores goes against all that I have ever taught them.
Just last month, parents in Cupertino, Calif., announced that they were more than halfway to their $3 million goal, which would offset more than $7 million in state cuts and save the jobs of 107 teachers. Each family with children in the school district was asked to give $375.
The reality is that there’s tremendous waste in schools that should be eliminated before they even think about asking parents to pony up. In this week’s Weekly Standard Indiana governor Mitch Daniels describes his experience with those who complain about education funding, which is pretty typical:
“Only 61 cents of every education dollar gets into the classroom in Indiana.” School funding increased every year under Daniels before the recession, and since the downturn, when most areas of state government have seen cuts of 25 percent or more, education has been reduced by only 2 percent. Yet the local school boards and their Democratic allies in the state legislature continue to complain. Daniels calls education funding “the bloody shirt” of Indiana politics: “It doesn’t take long before somebody starts waving it.” One of my favorite bits of Daniels video on YouTube shows him at a press conference defending a bill to end “social promotion” in the state’s grade schools. School districts were appalled that the bill would pass without “additional resources” to educate the kids who would be held back.
A reporter asked him about it.
“By the time a child has finished third grade, the state has spent $40,000 and the school district has had 720 days to teach that child to read,” he said, tight-lipped. “If that child can’t read by then, there is a fundamental failure in that district. And they’ll need to remedy it. The most unacceptable thing to do is to shove that child along to fourth grade into almost certain academic failure. That’s a cruel thing to do, it’s a wrong thing to do, and we’re going to put an end to it.”
The reporter pressed: But won’t the schools need more money?
Daniels’s eyes got wide.
“More than $40,000 to teach someone how to read? No. It won’t and it shouldn’t and any school district that can’t do it ought to face consequences.”
Indeed, school districts that fail to live with in their means should face the consequences before attempting to pass the buck on to parents.