Abuse of Power in the Schools, Part 1: Pimping the Kids

Blogger-mom Laura Wellington is making the talk show rounds after a post last month on her blog aroused interest and commentary from various newspapers. In the post, she indignantly described a fundraising drive by her child’s school that understandably raised her ire:

“…the letter [my daughter] handed me stated my daughter was to accomplish chores around the house with the goal of being paid by me for those chores the sum of $20.  She would then have to hand the full $20 over to the school to make up for the shortfall in their overall budget which, ultimately, disallowed the kids to go on yet another class trip.  Participation was mandatory according to what my daughter told me and the letter seemingly conveyed (however, on a later phone call, my daughter’s teacher altered the word “mandatory” to be “suggested” despite all evidence to the contrary)…”

Wellington’s complaint is that schools need to exercise fiscal responsibility, and she is joining a rising chorus of protest among parents across the country who feel that their tax dollars should not have to be supplemented with constant arm-twisting from schools urging them  to buy and sell over-priced cookies or provide additional contributions. This is a fiscal policy issue; the ethical issue should be less controversial. When did schools get the authority to dictate what children do outside school? How do they justify requiring unpaid labor for the school’s benefit? Continue reading