Monday, September 29, 2008

Do you like soup?

Do you like soup?

So began the beguiling fund raising pitch of my daughter this time last year. It was the first year that the fund raising spiel at her school took and she was into it. The salesperson/performer had razzle-dazzled her sufficiently that she just had to sell. She was compelled to. I had tried my best to deflect by setting the information on the kitchen counter, changing the subject, reading a book, but she imperceptibly found the material and then jumped me with the “Do you like Soup, Mom?” question.

I am like a lot of mothers, or at least enough like my own mom, to love my children through food, so I answered. Of course I liked soup. I loved making soup. Why do you ask? And then I saw the brochure in her hand. How had she done that? –so well? What had they turned her into? –so quickly? Could this talent be harnessed for good, or would her future be as some waifish, yet tough-as-nails repo woman squeezing delinquent student loan payments out of unsuspecting college grads?

And then I started to get angry. How long had the assembly taken? What class did you miss to attend? How much time will it take your teacher to collect this material each morning? She didn’t know the answers really, but I was seething inside with even more percolating. You want to go around the neighborhood to sell, Sweetheart? Let’s start at 1006 Summit Avenue. Let’s go to our state senator’s house, and then let’s call on our state house representative. Next, let’s do the state senator to the south of us.

You get the point.

The thing is, I don’t really think the Governor and our collective state legislature get the point. I’m not sure our Federal elected officials get the point. Our children are fund raising for their own education because the adults in charge of funding their education don’t have the collective nerve to raise the funds to keep them from hawking wrapping paper, frozen pizzas, and cheap plastic crap. Not to mention the soup.

How did this happen?! What brought us to this and why the hell aren’t we angrier about it?

I can remember selling an embarrassment of trinkets, fruit cakes, and sundries to fund my high school band program, but I got a trip to Hawaii for the Aloha Bowl out of the deal. My brother sold kitchen gadgets and other items to fund new football jerseys for his team. Maybe those were gateway sales for the big money that fund raising is today and for the laundry list of materials and personnel needed to be funded by fund raisers, but it is a crime when our students need to fund raise to afford writer’s notebooks, school supplies or a host of other necessities.

Now I have 2 children who had the pleasure of being freshly deputized as junior salespeople on behalf of their own education. I might have to interrupt their neighborhood turf-cutting discussion just long enough to drive them to the Governor’s Residence and knock on that door.

I hope he likes soup.


Amber said...

Exactly MC! At my last school our fund raising efforts went for paper for the copier. How ridiculous!

Wendy said...

So, about 30 years ago when there was a crunch in funding... our president (MEA) strongly encouraged school NOT to have fundraisers. Somehow he felt the state should be able to fund our children's education...has much changed?