I'm fairly certain Superior Elementary just burned through the last of my volunteering spirit in the past two days. I spent something like eight hours (nothing compared to some) transforming the Fourth Grade into a Winter Wonderland.
Kids and parents dressed up, brought dishes to share, had pictures taken, and read "family tradition memories" pieces. Call me unsentimental; I think the whole thing was a waste of time. Another teacher asked me, "Oh,was it really special?"
Nope. Didn't get teary-eyed, even once. Actually the two hours I spent at the "winter festival" was pretty well eclipsed by the other six hours of working my ass off, along with several other mommies. The clincher came when a mommy vacuumed. I didn't volunteer to do that. I'm sorry. I draw the line at vacuuming the school.
This year was a "winter Green" theme. No waste event. But I think we can do better. I think next year we could improve the event by thinking about what will improve the character of our kids. (Considering the word of the month is Generosity.)
Suggested better expenditures of time for volunteers:
Eight hours in a soup kitchen.
Eight hours standing on a corner collecting money for the poor.
Eight hours helping kids in the classroom--especially with long division.
Eight hours helping kids in a low-income school.
Eight hours spent doing nearly anything else (like drinking at the ritzy restaurant at the mall).
Suggested better expenditures for kids:
Two hours spent collecting and wrapping gifts for the less-fortunate among us
Money spent on new clothes, dresses, and rented tuxes: donated to the hungry
Two hours making care packages for the homeless.
And so on. Bring the kids cookies, put on some rocking music, and let the fourth graders wrap presents for kids who aren't getting any. It's a no-brainer.
This is an extremely wealthy school, where cliques are already forming based on sports in the fourth grade, where parents are expected to put on elaborate parties, besides volunteer in the classroom every week.
I like the women who I did this with. That's not it. But a school, a principal, a superintendent (who changed his schedule to drop by) should be able to set basic priorities. Was this really the best use our educational time, energy, and dollars?
And people wonder what is wrong with American schools. If the privileged among us can't figure this shit out, then how the hell can our kids?