Thursday, November 8, 2012

School Fundraisers: The Self Perpetuating Spiral

Now that the election is over, I can get back to motherhood and education topics. These ladies are singing my song: Why I Refuse to Do School Fundraisers. All of their points are good, I'd only add the spiraling trends point from my American motherhood reverse culture shock post last year: 

[H]ere is a major difference between American and British school fundraisers: we fund raise for the schools, not charities.  The idea that tuition is sufficient to pay for a school's needs is completely foreign to the American school system.  Private schools rely on fundraising, as do public schools.  A short version of the Texas tale, similar to tales across the country: state schools are funded by property taxes.  School districts with valuable property had more money than others.  The courts shut that “unfair” system down a while back leading to the "Robin Hood" regime whereby property taxes go into a pool and are divided equally throughout Texas.  Wealthier areas, therefore, supplement their school budgets with fundraising.   The charitable function performed by British school fundraising is served by a host of other organizations such as the Boy and Girl Scouts, National Charity League, the Junior League, and by our well attended churches.  I covered this a bit here, but for now, I digress. 
The upshot is that the elaborate school functions not only create more work for the actual parties, but also create more need for fundraising.  More and better fundraisers mean fancier functions and facilities.  The trends feed each other.   
Witness the school fairs. The Fall Festival I mentioned, it reminded me of the London nursery school field day merged with the Christmas Fair if it had a bubble machine, zip line, class pictures, and—I am not making this up—a DJ. I did a stint on the nursery PTA in London.  Planning for our much smaller Christmas Fair took some man hours.  I can only imagine how much work this Fall fest took.  In addition we have the typical holiday parties (though don’t call them Christmas parties in a public school). There are also teacher appreciation luncheons.  The moms bring food and cover the class so the teachers can have a morning off.  (For the British moms who have to keep reading that last because it can't possibly say that, I assure you, this happens.  I took brownies.)
More to come. I held my PJLifestyle Paglia review with it's education critique. Motherhood administration posts coming as well. Even I'm sick of politics.


Expat mum said...

I wrote a piece about volunteering in (US) schools recently in which I advised people here to run like the wind if they heard the phrase "Special Events", as it's usually fund-raising in disguise. Perhaps because I used the phrase "Welcome to the dark side", I was fairly roundly criticized by some American parents who clearly thought I should enjoy every minute of the slave labor that is school fund-raising and volunteering in general. (I thought about telling them that it was tongue in cheek, but that would have spoiled their enjoyment of having a good old moan at me.)
My British readers basically couldn't get their heads round it. It's definitely a regional thing in the US though as some parents at public schools claimed never to have done any fund-raising, but the ones here (in Chicago) rely very heavily on extra money coming in to buy even basic supplies. In private schools here, a lot of the fund-raising is to provide scholarships to ensure "diversity" in the school so it's not even to top up the fees that we pay.

AHLondon said...

I came over to comment that you should check out by reverse culture shock rant. I totally forgot I scheduled this post. Needless to say, I've not had the best week. I've been writing so much strategy over at Ricochet, I've only gotten back to culture stuff today. I'm gonna have to sleep more than 4 hours at some point. For the record, you can use your dry British "dark side" wit over here anytime. The moms whisper behind my back, follow me with their eyes. At the beginning of the year I arrived late to one of the class mom coffees because I kept looking for the right room. I kept passing what I thought was a Bible study, with the chairs arranged in that horseshoe, meeting style and everyone taking notes. That was the coffee. There were worksheet handouts. What I wouldn't have given to have M&M standing next to me when I walked into the room.
Give me the link please. I like cross links in my comments.

Expat mum said...

It's here -

Thank god our school parents don't insist on coffee mornings, although I am going to one parent pot-luck this evening. Fortunately the hosts live at the end of our street so I can make a quick escape if needed!

edgeofthesandbox said...

Our public school holds fundraisers. In addition, our broke state of CA gives us money for kids eligible for free lunches.

Anonymous said...

Been thinking about this all day, and have had a few giggles. I don't even think I would have needed to pass comment when we walked into the room. My stiff upper lip would have limped into a smirk and the rest of face would have joined in to tell a thousand stories......! Wonderful stuff. Cheered little M&M up no end.

Mark Martin said...

Hey! This is a good read. I will be looking forward to visit your page again and for your other posts as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about online school fundraising in your area. I'm glad to stop by your site and know more about online school fundraising.
Other school fundraisers that generate substantial revenue for schools include auctions and raffles. With these types of fundraising activities, the school requests donations from local restaurants and businesses in their area, that are then offered at the event. In the case of an auction, people are allowed to bid on the dinner, limousine ride, or whatever was donated by the local businesses in the community. In the case of a raffle, people purchase raffle tickets that are then later picked randomly from a container. Often the donations are solicited by parents acting on behalf of the school, who make phone calls, write letters, or know of other parents who work for companies who may be willing to donate.
Auction Fundraisers are discovering the power of anytime, anywhere auctions to dramatically improve the way they raise money.