Skip to comments.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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
NO. Only PTO volunteers are allowed to "help out", and "space is limited." That's why I'm so ticked.
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.
Well, HER days are numbered! But yes, you are fortunate.
Of course not because MotherhoodIsACareer is not part of the union.
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.
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.
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.
There is no "kids not going to the bookfair." That's just it. They're going. All of them. Period.
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.
Geez...just don't go.
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.
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.