Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Letting the school down

Are Home and School Associations (or PTAs or PTOs or whatever the heck they're called where you're at) about to become things of the past? Some of you are cheering at that idea, I know, I can hear you. There's been a sort of HSA tyranny going on for years, making moms who don't volunteer feel inadequate, giving moms who do volunteer approximately the same status as cheerleaders when you were in high school. But now, even those cheerleader moms are starting to drop out, lost to a new job or some of the 5,000 other activities their kids are involved in, and the activities their organizations used to take responsibility for are in jeopardy. Certainly, I don't think anybody's going to cry if there are no more fund-raisers; how much gift wrap can we buy, really? But the stuff the fund-raisers paid for? There's liable to be a fuss when that stuff disappears.

My daughter brought home a letter today from her school principal and the president of the Home and School Association detailing all the things that won't happen if parents don't step up and volunteer to plan fund-raisers. It's written in exactly the same tone of ticked-off sarcasm I've heard teachers use with students: "Alright, fine. You don't want to do your work? Which should we cancel, the dances or the yearbook? We'll just take these nice honor society certificates right back to the store." I sympathize with the frustration the folks who are still trying to make things go must feel, and I also feel defensive as heck because, excuse me, I do volunteer. I volunteer plenty. Just because I don't want to stay out every night planning some sort of evening raffle extravaganza doesn't make me a bad parent. If the school really wants to bank some money, maybe they should take up the suggestion I made here a few years ago: Tell parents that if they donate a certain amount, they will never be bugged to buy cookies or plan events for the duration of the school year. I'd write them a check right now. Honor society certificates all around!

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