So the girls came home last week with a PTO Fundraising packet. They were asked to sell magazines, wrapping paper and other stuff. There are prizes for the students that sell the most and there are class prizes for the class that sells the most. The other "prize" is a silly lanyard with a penguin on it which the students can earn by bringing 7 names and addresses of friends and family to school who will then be contacted to see if they want to buy magazines.
I just HATE these type of fundraisers! I hate them for many different reasons.
I was so upset that the school chose to allow our children to be so blatantly manipulated in this PTO fundraiser. I would not have been bothered if the PTO had sent home a request for a donation. I would have been happy to write a check. Matt is a board member at Ohio Valley Voices, so we are well aware of the need for fundraising and we've been happy to support other fundraisers in the past. But to bring in a third party company sales person, and have all the kids in the school attend an assembly (which takes away precious learning time) where the adult "Mr Money" does a sales pitch, to me is totally uncalled for. And while he did not ask for their money, it seemed like it was a high pressure sales pitch, similar to the approach used to sell timeshares.
They manipulated the emotions of the students so that the parents will feel forced to give away personal data of friends and family or have their kids be treated like a failure at school. If the kids don't get at least 7 names for the mailing list, every student in the school will know they are a failure because they don't have the lanyard with a penguin on it. They won't get any prize posters. They won't get to see the magic show. They won't get to go on a limo lunch.
Tahlia just cried and cried because a large number of her friends have a penguin lanyard and she will not. The sad thing is that it's through no fault of her own, but because we as the parents have chosen not to participate. She does not understand that most of the money goes to this fundraising company, not even the PTO. Or why giving away personal data is a bad idea in this day and age.
My concern also is that it creates a very negative social environment for those not participating. By giving out the lanyards, the school has singled out the students who's parents didn't participate. This causes social pressure from the other students who do have a lanyard. I'm sure that the PTO members and the school staff are not being negative towards the students without a lanyard, but they have created the circumstance to support the social "bullying" as a result. If one student doesn't sell enough or doesn't sell at all, the entire class is affected and may not win any prizes. It really puts those children who don't participate in a negative category.
I was talking to a friend who's daughter's school is doing a similar fundraiser. The reward there is that students who sell can come to school without a uniform. Wow, that really makes it very easy to tell who didn't participate. My friend felt forced to participate in order to protect her daughter. This is SO wrong!
I hated seeing Tahlia cry and I was tempted to go ahead and send in some names, but that was the whole point. I refuse to be "bullied" into giving away my friends' and family's personal information and ask them to buy things that their own children are already trying to sell. We talked with the girls about how we feel and I have exchanged several e-mails with the principal, the PTO president and the person in charge of this fundraiser, so they are well aware of what Matt and I think about this.
Jazzie seems to understand what we're saying and doesn't really seem to care one way or another. Tahlia however is a different story :-) I love my girl so much and I want her to have the world (including a stupid penguin lanyard), but I also want her to know and learn that when you think that something is wrong, you stand up for it.