A new school year
New clothes, some fresh notebooks, and perhaps a shiny apple - it's back-to-school time across the country. But this year, there seems to be a louder chorus of voices from parents revolting against school fundraisers.
Last week, Barbara Neff posted a School Fundraising Beg Off Form on her blog and asked parents to join her movement against the requests to promote, "ridiculously overpriced, needless things to everyone I know."
The Washington Post ran Michelle Singletary's article its finance section over the weekend. In addition to swearing off selling "candy bars, wrapping paper, tumblers of tiny jelly beans, cookies and books," Singletary also reports some interesting stats:
Retail sales in product fundraising are down. From 2001 to 2005, sales dropped 11 percent, according to a survey by the Association of Fund-Raising Distributors and Suppliers, which represents more than 600 companies that manufacture, supply and distribute products used for fundraising.
Schools and school-related groups such as parent-teacher organizations constituted about 83 percent of fundraising sales, according to the association's survey. Fifty percent of school fundraising sales are made by elementary school volunteers. The average product fundraiser generates more than $2,500 for schools and nonprofit groups. In the 2005 school year, students and parents raised $1.4 billion.
Unfortunately, both of these articles focus on the annoying sales aspect of these fundraising programs and not on the larger issue of why public schools increasing need to use private fundraising programs. Don't Tell the Donor found a great op-ed article in Sunday's LA Times that blames Prop 13 for bringing "the California public school system from nationally admired to roundly pitied."
Is this really a better alternative to local taxes?