Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Fundraising Plan that Should've Stalled Out

Last week, the cash-for-grades fundraising scheme at a North Carolina elementary school came to light.  Shortly thereafter, it was announced that the principal will be retiring.  Well, here's the second-worst fundraising idea I've ever heard:

Pittsburgh's Carrick High School is holding a series of fundraisers for a student service-learning club, the last of which is called "stall day".  The fundraiser was approved by the school's administration and yesterday faculty were asked to approve a day on which to hold it (they voted to do it on the last day of school before Christmas).  What's stall day?  Here's how it was described in an e-mail to teachers:

"Stall day is a day where students can bring in money and stall your teaching.  If the students yell stall, then the teacher must stop teaching at that moment and count the money that is given to you at that moment.  However, each teacher can set their own precedent for their classroom.  If there are no rules, then students can stall your classroom all period.  Maybe you let students know that you will only accept money within the first five minutes of class, or accept the money as the students are walking in the door.  Then when the bell rings, you will count the money before you begin teaching.  It is up to you how you structure your classroom.  I will have buckets to place in all of the teachers classroom.  I will have students come and collect the buckets at the end of the day."

Yes, you read that correctly: students can pay to stop class.  The school has apparently deemed it appropriate to encourage students to behave rudely (i.e. interrupting their teachers).  And, maybe even worse, they've chosen to send students the message that learning is a punishment and should be avoided at all costs (literally).


Unknown said...

This is beyond ridiculous. After teaching in public schools for several years at the middle school level, I am now in an private school. Students who don't work suffer the consequences of failing grades. No exceptions. The reality is that life involves failure (and requires the ability to learn from it) and if we don't allow our students to suffer the consequences of not working, we are simply delaying the pain - until it's too late and they become unemployed because they don't have the skills they need to make it in the work world.

Anonymous said...


Full disclosure: I grew up in Pittsburgh and attended a Pittsburgh public school a mile or two from Carrick High School. I'm not a teacher and certainly not eager to tell people how to do their job (though I wonder how that principle applies to those who want to tell these teachers how to do their job :-).

I agree that the question of discipline implications and hidden lessons is an important one. However, despite the provocative lead, it's clear from the text further down that the principal is allowing the teachers plenty of lattitude to set their own rules and maintain discipline.

Also, the teachers chose the day - the day before christmas break, which, if it's anything like when I was a kid, is pretty much useless in terms of conventional education anyway. So maybe that's a good day for a game that teaches a hidden lesson.

Here's the hidden lesson that I think you're really missing, and perhaps the most important - that the fundraising is for a "student service learning" club. Talk about teaching students to take responsibility for their own education!

Plus, it teaches another hidden lesson, one that you may be a lot happier about when these kids are tax-paying citizens: that schools needing to raise funds to pay for learning interferes with actual learning!

Unknown said...

For a less disruptive elementary school fundraising effort, schools may want to consider the Adopt-A-Classroom program at www.adoptaclassroom.org. Teachers get various tools to reach out to their community and a way to receive donations through an online account. All schools across the country are listed - ones in Pittsburgh are at http://www.adoptaclassroom.org/adoption/LocatorCity.aspx?State=PA&City=Pittsburgh&Private=0&inter=0