A perennial annoyance for me as a parent is the many odd ways in which schools force parents to organise the funding for trips and stays at camp collectively. The general idea is sound: it would not be fair to make the parents pay up front, because then the poorer families might not be able to send their kids. But our specific cases are ridiculous, because my kids’ schools cater to some of the most affluent communities in the history of the world. I’m by far the poorest of the parents involved, and I can easily afford to pay for my kids’ trips and camp stays.
What’s particularly silly is that a lot of the accepted ways to collect the shared funding are so damned inefficient. Imagine one of these moms who’s a district attorney or a neurosurgeon or head of marketing at a tech company. She may spend six hours baking cakes and selling them at a fundraiser in order to donate the meagre proceeds to the class. But she has a huge salary! She would be able to donate twenty times that sum if she just stayed at work for those six hours instead! And when I point this out at meetings I get these looks like I had suggested that we sell one of the kids into slavery.
And then there are the “jobs” intended for the kids. “Buy a bunch of candles / a box of olive oil bottles / a clutch of ‘easily sold’ salami sausages, and send your kid out to sell them to family and neighbours”. Of course all of these families end up “buying” most of the shit from their kid instead.
My suggestion is that we should quietly agree to buy 25 jars of blueberry jam, one per kid, and then pay $600 per jar to the class treasury. So far no takers, because there’s this perception that it is important for the kids to “deserve” their trip. As if our kids weren’t one big bunch of hugely over-privileged gits to begin with.
But this year I have finally managed to steer clear. After conferring with my ex, I just wrote the organiser of this year’s olive oil campaign:
Dear Mrs. So-and-so,
Junior’s mother and I are not willing to distribute any olive oil. But we will be happy to pay for our share. Please just tell me the amount and the account number.