I support and believe in PTA. I have been an active PTA member, leader, and advocate for just over eight years. And every year I participate in literacy night, teacher appreciation week, and Reflections (among other things). And I know that a PTA, especially at a local school level, has to do a certain amount of fundraising in order to support school and student programs. And every year when I know that fundraiser packet is coming home...I cringe.
Listen. I want to support my children's school. I am glad to give my son a check to take to school and turn in to the PTA as a donation. The PTA keeps 100% of the funds (rather than a percentage of the funds) and we feel good that we've supported a program that matters and makes a difference. But without fail every fall I have this conversation (or something similar) with at least one of my children:
"Mom, if I sell 10 items I get to go to the pizza place!"
"I can take you to have pizza."
"But Mom, if I sell 20 items I can get a cool radio and a flashlight."
"I have a radio I can loan you. You have a flashlight."
"Mom, if I sell $200 I can get a gift card and all the items on the prize list."
I know. I've done the gift wrap, the cookie dough, the pies. I've sold the tee-shirts, the family portraits, the commemorative bricks. I've created cards out of student artwork. So I get it. I get that it is sadly still a necessity. That PTAs will continue every fall to turn children into door-to-door salesmen, whether they have a catalog in their hands or a pledge form for the walk-a-thon. That until public education is funded abundantly that catalogs, pay pals, pledges, penny collections, and so on will go on. Sometimes my job is to remind PTAs about the goal for which they fund raise (a playground, more library books, smart boards) and that fundraising isn't about the dollars, it is about what you do with the dollars (far too often a PTA fundraises without a plan or purpose for the funds from the fundraiser...cart before the horse, so to speak).
In the meantime...I don't need another coffee mug or another roll of wrapping paper. I don't need a reminder that the fundraiser deadline is coming up. I don't need to be seen as an ATM.
I do, however, need to make sure that my children's school(s) and their teachers and the support staff, are treated with respect and care so they in turn respect and care for my child. I will gladly send in that donation so the PTA can keep 100% of the proceeds, and I will gladly give ONE hour for every item not bought. And I will take my son for pizza...not because he sold the most tulip bulbs, but because I love him.
And that's the best kind of school support there is.