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Public School Kindergarten/PTO is crossing the line

Posted on 12/08/2005 11:39:06 AM PST by Motherhood IS a career

I have recently learned that student attendance at the PTA/PTO-organized book fair, "winter boutique" and other school sales at my 5-year old daughter's kindergarten are mandatory. Yes, mandatory, if you consider the fact that all children, regardless of whether they bring in money or not to shop with are taken to these sales to "browse". In other words, children do not have the option NOT to visit these fairs, and parents do not have the option to either consent or not consent to their child being taken shopping or "browsing" by their teacher.

Yes, technically, parents and children have the option not to purchase anything, but it doesn't take a degree in child psychology or behavioral science to understand the dynamics of the situation.

In effect, it's a shameless manipulation of young children and their parents by the PTO/PTA to maximize their fund raising efforts.

Before anyone misconstrues my intentions, I should tell you that our family loves books. In fact, we have a library in our home instead of a dining room because we have so many books. We have nothing against book fairs, nor for that matter, against raising money for good causes, especially education. A book fair where families can participate together is a great idea and a wonderful tradition. The same goes for holiday fairs (even if they refuse to use the word "Christmas"), plant fairs, cookie sales, T-shirt sales, and any other sale designed to raise funds for the school.

While we highly value books, literacy and education, we also highly value our freedom of choice and our rights, as parents, to decide what is best for our children.

In our household, our 5-year old doesn't shop for anything without parental supervision. We believe that at this age, a child doesn't have an adequate understanding of the value of money. Furthermore, in our experience, 5-year olds are very impulsive shoppers. Basically, they want anything and everything they see. They are ruled by their whims, and it is our job as parents to guide them through the marketing maze the world presents at their young feet. The management of money varies from individual to individual, and household to household. Therefore, we feel it is inappropriate for the school to require our child to visit a school sale under anyone else's supervision but our own.

I believe that the PTA/PTO is well aware of the tendencies of kindergartners, and despite this, or perhaps, because of it, they've decided that this is a really effective and useful way to raise money for a good cause. However, I believe that an important line is being crossed.

The PTA/PTO is using young children's impulsiveness and immaturity with money to further their own cause, and no matter how noble a cause that may be, no matter how well-meaning the organizations may be, it is wrong to try to achieve their goals by manipulating children or pressuring parents to participate in any given sale.

It is one of a parent's fundamental rights to choose where, when, with whom, for what, and with how much money their children may go shopping. It is not the school's or the PTO's place to take our children shopping or "browsing" for anything, not even books, without our consent.

Don't get me wrong, it's not about the money either. The easy solution for a parent might be to give a child a few dollars and let her buy some little something and be done with it. The pressure to do so is certainly there. However, good parenting is not always easy, and sometimes we have to stand up for our principles, otherwise, like a rock under dripping water, principles will be eroded, one insignificant grain at a time. Besides, what kind of example would I be setting for my daughter if I simply caved under "peer pressure?"

I realize that the option is always available to keep a child home from school when any type of sale may be taking place on any given day. However, I prefer that my child not miss school because of a sale. Hence, the undue pressure to just give in quietly.

I am in no way suggesting that we eliminate school book fairs or any other school sale. However, they need to be made optional, to be held after regular school/class hours. They should not be a requirement. There is no place for such things in the curriculum.

Still, it seems that no one has ever spoken up about this in our community, but I think it's about time someone did.

Certain decisions are a parent's prerogative. Schools must respect the rights of parents to make choices they deem appropriate for their children. This is not a trivial matter.

What do YOU think?


TOPICS: US: New Jersey; Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS: bookfairs; childlabor; kindergarten; marlboro; newjersey; pta; pto; publicschool; publicschools; schoolsales; thechristmassqueeze; waronchristmas
Oh yes, I am well aware that the PTO should be re-named to PAATP : Parents Acting As Teachers' Puppets.
1 posted on 12/08/2005 11:39:07 AM PST by Motherhood IS a career
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To: Motherhood IS a career

Thank God for the Catholic school system.


2 posted on 12/08/2005 11:41:23 AM PST by samadams2000 (Nothing fills the void of a passing hurricane better than government)
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To: Motherhood IS a career

I think you should make some serious noise. Mandatory attendance at fundraising events for ANY organization is not a legitimate part of any school curriculum.


3 posted on 12/08/2005 11:43:24 AM PST by GovernmentShrinker
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To: Motherhood IS a career

I'm with you FRiend.

While we are at it, I'd like to see a ban on ALL school-sponsored selling activities: candy, t-shirts, magazines, etc.

Our tax dollars support the schools; our kids shouldn't be pressured into becoming unpaid salesmen.


4 posted on 12/08/2005 11:43:44 AM PST by clee1 (We use 43 muscles to frown, 17 to smile, and 2 to pull a trigger. I'm lazy and I'm tired of smiling.)
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To: Motherhood IS a career

I think your right and maintain my freedom by homeschooling.

Solves all my "forced participation" issues in one swell foop.

Good luck arguing principles with the PAATP though!


5 posted on 12/08/2005 11:44:17 AM PST by Valpal1 (Crush jihadists, drive collaborators before you, hear the lamentations of their media. Allahu FUBAR!)
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To: GovernmentShrinker
I think you should make some serious noise.

I'm about to. Unpopular as it may make me. Fortunately, I'm not concerned with winning any popularity contests.

6 posted on 12/08/2005 11:47:08 AM PST by Motherhood IS a career
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To: Motherhood IS a career

It the same thing that has been being done for over 40 years by the left wing socialists. They are taking over the rights of the parents to teach our children what THEY believe is correct and right. Social Engineering!!! Acceptance of lifestyles that we as parents would never teach our children. Read for yourself:

http://waysandmeans.house.gov/hearings.asp?formmode=view&id=954


7 posted on 12/08/2005 11:49:16 AM PST by 26lemoncharlie
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To: clee1

Hmmmm----Mrs Pondman is very active in the PTO and these fundraising events, and nobody is twisting the arms of the little ones to buy anything.

I do agree that the PTO is basically a fundraising arm of the schools to equip them with stuff they can't afford to buy because of the exorbitant salaries and benefits of the teachers. But hey, "it's for the children"......


8 posted on 12/08/2005 11:49:46 AM PST by Pondman88
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To: Valpal1
Good luck arguing principles with the PAATP though!

Thanks. But I'm not going to argue with the PAATP. I'm going to take it to the Board of Ed.

9 posted on 12/08/2005 11:50:51 AM PST by Motherhood IS a career
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To: Motherhood IS a career

When my kids were in elementary school they offered parent nights at the book fair when we could shop with our kids.

Maybe that's the alternative you can offer to not wanting your child to shop and browse alone.


10 posted on 12/08/2005 11:50:55 AM PST by WIladyconservative (Save us from future Freepathons - set up a monthly donation!)
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To: clee1

I never minded selling activities because my daughter enjoyed them so much and relished selling. But no child should be forced to attend a book fair and certainly not without a parent. Many years ago, my daughter attended a summer camp that had reading as a part of it. The teacher was awful and she was dismissed and replaced before the end of the camp. The university running it felt kids and parents needed some type of reimbursement (I didn't because I felt that the school handled the situation very well) so they gave the kids vouchers to use at a children's book store and took them there on an outing. My dau chose an author that I didn't like and for years would only read her books. I always regretted sending her to that camp because of the bookstore adventure.


11 posted on 12/08/2005 11:51:22 AM PST by twigs
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To: Pondman88

I do agree that the PTO is basically a fundraising arm of the schools to equip them with stuff they can't afford to buy because of the exorbitant salaries and benefits of the teachers. But hey, "it's for the children"......


For the Brain washing of our children and the eliniation of the authority and responsibilities of the parents towards their children.


12 posted on 12/08/2005 11:51:35 AM PST by 26lemoncharlie
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To: Motherhood IS a career
The PTA/PTO is using young children's impulsiveness and immaturity with money to further their own cause, and no matter how noble a cause that may be, no matter how well-meaning the organizations may be, it is wrong to try to achieve their goals by manipulating children or pressuring parents to participate in any given sale.

True, but that's what they do. I felt the same way about the endless fundraising that went on in elementary school; and many other things they do with your child.

They do not observe proper parent/child boundaries, either yours or theirs as parent-substitutes, and; as you're finding out most other parents don't care.

You sound just like I did when my first child entered public school. It will only get worse, believe me. Mine endured 4 years before I took them out and homeschooled them; and they still thank me 11 years later.

13 posted on 12/08/2005 11:52:55 AM PST by Red Boots
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To: clee1

"While we are at it, I'd like to see a ban on ALL school-sponsored selling activities: candy, t-shirts, magazines, etc. Our tax dollars support the schools; our kids shouldn't be pressured into becoming unpaid salesmen."

Double-Dog-Dittos to that!! I'm so glad my daughter is out of school! I hated those Willy Loman-money-making scams!


14 posted on 12/08/2005 11:56:33 AM PST by Polyxene (For where God built a church, there the Devil would also build a chapel - Martin Luther)
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To: Motherhood IS a career
Our bookfair was last month. The PTO sent out a schedule of when each class was going to the library. Parents were invited up to shop with their child. Does your school allow it?
15 posted on 12/08/2005 11:56:41 AM PST by LA Woman3 ("Don't blame me......I voted for Jindal" www.lagop.com)
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To: Motherhood IS a career
My experience with these book fairs is that all students are taken to the fair during the school day. They then make out "wish-lists" that they take home to mom and dad. The guilt-trip approach seems to be a very effective marketing tool for the book-sales company.

The reason that it is mandatory is probably more of problem with teacher supervision (a teacher can't be at two places at the same time) than anything else.

The book sales company generally provides considerable amounts of books to the school's library in exchange for the opportunity to sell their books.

I would look at this as a "teachable moment"--an opportunity to explain your family's values.
16 posted on 12/08/2005 11:57:11 AM PST by rightsmart
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To: Motherhood IS a career

Well, our children have been going to book fairs since our oldest started school 9 years ago. We've never felt obligated to buy anything. And with one or two exceptions, we haven't bought anything. Our kindergarteners have attended these book fairs. They know we won't purchase anything. We tell them ahead of time. We have so many books that they don't care. And we take them to the bookstore enough that they know the selection is much greater at the store than at the book fair.

Our school is no longer having a book fair. They are having their book fundraiser at Barnes and Noble. So far, we have not been.

Can your kindergartener read? Are they selling material that is unacceptable to you?


17 posted on 12/08/2005 11:57:11 AM PST by petitfour
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To: 26lemoncharlie

Being in the PTO and doing this stuff is really a pain in the keister, but it is one of the few ways parents can influence the local schools. Actually we are somewhat fortunate in that our sons teacher is also quite religious, and actually talks about Christ in the classroom!!! I am holding my breath, waiting for her to get fired.


18 posted on 12/08/2005 11:57:43 AM PST by Pondman88
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To: Motherhood IS a career

I was shocked too at some of the crap public schools do. Like in Texas, I buy supplies for my son and then they go into a group bucket and they all share. This way the poor kids doesn't have his feelings hurt because he bought rose brand crayons!

I'm in Virginia now and they don't do much of that here, but they trick you into attending PTA meetins (at least the first). They schedule it the same night as meet the teacher meetings. So you show up and they put you in a room and then proceed to listen to their crap. What I do now is I show up, get a program. Read the program to see what time the meetings start and then I leave and return when the meet the teacher meetings start.

But if it ever gets too big of an issue I'll just have to send them to private school. But that's why I choose to live in more conservative areas...less of that garbage (but you still have some of it).


19 posted on 12/08/2005 11:57:57 AM PST by for-q-clinton (If at first you don't succeed keep on sucking until you do succeed)
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To: GovernmentShrinker

This is a Shakedown.


20 posted on 12/08/2005 11:59:52 AM PST by massgopguy (massgopguy)
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To: Pondman88
It's true, nobody's twisting their arms... not literally, anyway. But like I said, you don't need a degree in behavioral science to understand the dynamics that take place when you send a bunch of 5-year olds shopping together under the "supervision" of their teacher.

And, also, as I said -- I have nothing against fund raisers. Fine tradition -- I have no problem with any of them ... as long as participation or attendance is optional.

I think we're on the same side.

21 posted on 12/08/2005 12:02:37 PM PST by Motherhood IS a career
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To: Motherhood IS a career
What do YOU think?

I think you're overreacting. It's not "mandatory attendance." It's "our class is going to the book fair today, please stay in a single line."

Which is worse? Telling your five-year-old that, while she may browse, you don't intend to purchase anything OR having her sit in the classroom unattended or sent to some "alternative" activity because "her parents don't want her looking at books?"

There's a lot of things to be concerned about in public schools.

Book fairs aren't one of them.

22 posted on 12/08/2005 12:03:04 PM PST by Corin Stormhands (WWJS - Where Would Jesus Shop?)
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To: Motherhood IS a career
I think every school has these book fairs. My wife is a volunteer grandmom at our local Catholic school library. She was in charge of this year's book fair. All the kids come in. The younger one's write out wish lists and bring them home.

When they bring their money in, they individually go back and purchase their items. Lots of kids don't purchase a blessed thing, and lots of others buy 25 cent pencils or erasers.

Of course you have right to demand your child not participate at all in the book fair, but really, aren't you turning him into a bigger pariah than if you gave him a quarter and let him buy one of the junk items at the register? The cheapest items at our book fair were 10 cents for an eraser.

23 posted on 12/08/2005 12:04:05 PM PST by old and tired (Run Swannie, run!)
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To: WIladyconservative
Thanks. They do have a parent's night. But they also have them all go together with their class during school hours.

I called the principal to get clarification on what they do with kids who don't bring any money, and she said they still bring them to the fair to browse.

24 posted on 12/08/2005 12:05:59 PM PST by Motherhood IS a career
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To: samadams2000

"Thank God for the Catholic school system."

When my son was in parochial school in kindergarten and first grade a couple years back, there was a book fair, and a gift shop during school hours. So I pretty much had to send money so he wouldn't feel left out.

He gave me a fake ruby ring from the gift shop - and gave it to me just when the stone popped out of my engagement ring and had to be repaired. I treasured that ring for a while.


25 posted on 12/08/2005 12:06:14 PM PST by heartwood
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To: Motherhood IS a career

I wouldn't recommend saying this to the school this because it will not be helpful. But this situation is upsetting.

The teachers and administrators do not see that forcing your children to look at "their" books is the same as if the admininstrators and teachers were required to go to the Regnery book fair (conservative publisher)to fulfill their "diversity awareness" compliance.


26 posted on 12/08/2005 12:08:07 PM PST by saveliberty (Water and power lines don't mix? Who knew?)
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To: LA Woman3
Parents were invited up to shop with their child. Does your school allow it?

NO. Only PTO volunteers are allowed to "help out", and "space is limited." That's why I'm so ticked.

27 posted on 12/08/2005 12:09:49 PM PST by Motherhood IS a career
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To: Motherhood IS a career

It sounds like the school is not all that interested in making money. It's much easier to get a parent to buy something if the parent sees the products to buy. Very, very odd situation. Parents have always been welcome to attend the book fairs at our children's schools. Before school, during school, after school. We must be fortunate to have such open schools.


28 posted on 12/08/2005 12:12:13 PM PST by petitfour
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To: Pondman88
actually talks about Christ in the classroom!!!

Well, HER days are numbered! But yes, you are fortunate.

29 posted on 12/08/2005 12:12:39 PM PST by Motherhood IS a career
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To: Motherhood IS a career
NO. Only PTO volunteers are allowed to "help out", and "space is limited." That's why I'm so ticked.

Oh, then I don't blame you....I'd be upset too. Will the teacher let you sit with the class for the kids not going to the bookfair?
30 posted on 12/08/2005 12:14:30 PM PST by LA Woman3 ("Don't blame me......I voted for Jindal" www.lagop.com)
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To: LA Woman3; Motherhood IS a career

Of course not because MotherhoodIsACareer is not part of the union.


31 posted on 12/08/2005 12:16:43 PM PST by saveliberty (Water and power lines don't mix? Who knew?)
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To: saveliberty
I wouldn't recommend saying this to the school this because it will not be helpful.

Well, I've got to say something. If I don't, I'm part of the problem, not the solution.

I've drafted a much more "diplomatic" letter to the PTO, the Principal, and the Board. I am currently awaiting a response. I sent it a couple of days ago. I imagine they're mulling it over.

32 posted on 12/08/2005 12:17:02 PM PST by Motherhood IS a career
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To: Motherhood IS a career
NO. Only PTO volunteers are allowed to "help out", and "space is limited." That's why I'm so ticked.

That really is an outrage. I've never heard of parents not being allowed at the book fair. But you know what? Lots of kids won't be buying a darn thing. And many others will only be buying when their parents accompany them in the evening.

Go ahead and ask if your son can stay back, and offer to stay with him in the classroom, but I wouldn't make a big stink unless you think your son won't be staying in the school. It never helps a child if he feels different in a way that makes him sad.

33 posted on 12/08/2005 12:18:59 PM PST by old and tired (Run Swannie, run!)
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To: for-q-clinton
This way the poor kids doesn't have his feelings hurt because he bought rose brand crayons!

I agree with you about having the kids share school supplies, socialism doesn't work in school any better than it works in the real world. I do disagree with you about the crayons. If you mean RoseArt, they are far superior to the overpriced brand that should replace the "y" in their name with a "p". All of that well known brands products are overpriced junk.

34 posted on 12/08/2005 12:22:07 PM PST by magslinger (At the end of the day the only truly educated people are autodidacts.)
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To: LA Woman3
Will the teacher let you sit with the class for the kids not going to the bookfair?

There is no "kids not going to the bookfair." That's just it. They're going. All of them. Period.

35 posted on 12/08/2005 12:22:26 PM PST by Motherhood IS a career
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To: Motherhood IS a career

It is fair to tell them that this is offensive as it undermines your parental authority make the decision for your children. They seem to give the parents two scenarios-- tell the child to buy nothing; tell the child to buy whatever he wants.

Schools are a team effort with the teachers and the parents. A teacher can't be really effective without the support from the parents at home.

The school should be reminded that their role of providing a good education is dependent on its team effort with the parents and you look to the school to reconsider their policy relative to the bookfair to reflect that priority.


36 posted on 12/08/2005 12:22:39 PM PST by saveliberty (Water and power lines don't mix? Who knew?)
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To: Motherhood IS a career

Geez...just don't go.


37 posted on 12/08/2005 12:25:25 PM PST by wtc911 (see my profile for how to contribute to a pentagon heroes fund)
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To: Motherhood IS a career
Wow! Your PTO President must be on a power trip... Let me know how it turns out!
38 posted on 12/08/2005 12:27:50 PM PST by LA Woman3 ("Don't blame me......I voted for Jindal" www.lagop.com)
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To: old and tired
but I wouldn't make a big stink

I'm not planning on making a stink. You know the old saying about honey and vinegar? I will be my most rational, calm, and diplomatic self. If I get nowhere, it's ok. At least I tried when no one else who shares my sentiments would.

39 posted on 12/08/2005 12:29:07 PM PST by Motherhood IS a career
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To: Motherhood IS a career

Neither the book fairs not Christmas shop (yes they are called that at my daughter's public school) are mandatory.

In fact a note comes home the week before the Christmas shop opens inviting parents to attend and it also includes a "shopping list" for parents to fill out if they choose to allow the child money to go shopping......x amount of money for mom, dad, sibling, cousin, teacher, etc. And a note and list of books avalable at the book fair also comes home ahead of time.

I agree with you they should not be mandatory.


40 posted on 12/08/2005 12:31:33 PM PST by Gabz
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To: Corin Stormhands

Here's an idea: Don't do them at all.

When they ask us about fundraisers, I ask them where they spent the money they take from me in taxes. After a few years, they quit asking.


41 posted on 12/08/2005 12:31:56 PM PST by AppyPappy (If you aren't part of the solution, there is good money to be made prolonging the problem.)
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To: for-q-clinton
I'm in Virginia now and they don't do much of that here, but they trick you into attending PTA meetins (at least the first). They schedule it the same night as meet the teacher meetings. So you show up and they put you in a room and then proceed to listen to their crap.

I'm alsoin Virginia...and our parent/teacher conference sessions are always scheduled on the same day as the PTA meetings - but the PTA meeting is AFTER the P/T conference time.

42 posted on 12/08/2005 12:37:21 PM PST by Gabz
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To: Gabz
The shopping list option sounds similar, but parents are not invited to attend. In fact, the note specifically says "Since our space is limited, only parents who volunteer are needed to help our children shop." In other words, either you volunteer to help with the boutique and to help ALL the children shop, or you're not invited.

Note the "OUR" children"... not "YOUR Children" part.

43 posted on 12/08/2005 12:37:36 PM PST by Motherhood IS a career
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To: Motherhood IS a career
Okay, I am probably going to get flamed. I worked as a volunteer salesclerk at the book fair. On my day, the kids had already been 'windowshopping' and would come to my desk with their wish list filled out and money from home. Many parents didn't send enough money to buy the books their kids wanted. Some just gave the kids a dollar. I quickly learned where the 1 dollar books and knick knacks were.

As for myself, I don't have a problem with it. When my son came home with his wish list, I told him that after I worked the book fair, I would come and get him, at the end of the school day, and we would shop together and get a book. I always feel that I should buy something from the fundraisers, but I would much rather buy a book than the candy and cookies they usually sell.

44 posted on 12/08/2005 12:54:00 PM PST by sportutegrl (People who say, "All I know is . . ." really mean, "All I want you to focus on is . . .")
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To: Motherhood IS a career
All I can say is if I ever have children they will be Home schooled and the closest they will get to a publik skool is driving down the road and seeing it.
45 posted on 12/08/2005 12:57:12 PM PST by ChefKeith ( If Diplomacy worked, then we would be sitting here talking... And I'm getting sick of talking!)
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To: Motherhood IS a career

That to me is utterly ridiculous and totally unacceptable.

I do not blame you in the least for being upset and I'm glad to hear you are speaking up.


46 posted on 12/08/2005 12:59:02 PM PST by Gabz
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To: sportutegrl
I'm glad that this is not a problem for you.

For me, it's a problem because it infringes on my rights as a parent, and I view it as attempted manipulation of small children and their parents to achieve the goals set by the PTA. As noble as those goals may be, the way they are going about achieving them is inappropriate, especially at the kindergarten level.

Of course, you are entitled to your opinion, and should not be flamed for it.

47 posted on 12/08/2005 4:54:55 PM PST by Motherhood IS a career
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To: Motherhood IS a career
Honey, all I have to say is you'd better decide to homeschool or grow a thick skin when it comes to fund-raisers. Private schools have ALWAYS had them, and frankly, the way they make money at them is convincing the little kids that they want to sell the magazines, candy, gift-wrap, whatever. Parents DO have to have a strong will to tell the kids no. We finally convinced our kids that the prizes were mostly junky and that they could get something better if they saved their money. We did take part in the fundraisers; I even chaired a fair number of them, but families can usually opt out.

Private and Catholic schools rely on these fundraisers to provide enrichment programs and scholarships for students. Even public schools are getting into the act nowadays. As I said, the only way to avoid it is by homeschooling.

48 posted on 12/08/2005 10:02:38 PM PST by SuziQ
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