Friday, February 19, 2010

Think it Through, People!

OK, on the home front I have been pondering a situation regarding a 6th grade fund raiser.  Traditionally, the 6th graders get an end of the year trip to celebrate the end of elementary school.  A rite of passage thing. They usually go to a nearby water park.  It is expensive, so to ensure that all the kids get to go they raise money as a group.  I get that.  There are many wealthy enough families in our neighborhood that I think a mini scholarship fund could have been started and enough money would be raised.  Even though we are on one income this year, we could certainly find a way to throw in a few extra bucks for kiddos in need.

But, no.  Instead some go-getter moms with high achieving kids decided to raise money with a knowledge-a-thon.  They gave every 6th grader a book of facts this fall.  They were told to collect pledges from family based on how many questions they would get right when quizzed in March and to start studying up.  What fun, huh?  You can study in the car, over winter break, in the toilet, before bed, make it a family affair! 


Did anyone think this through?  Did anyone walk in the shoes of every single 6th grader and take their perspective when facing this activity?  Where the hell was the building administration when this parent group asked for approval?  Where was the voice of advocacy and reason?  

Please note this is further evidence that one loses IQ points and the ability to reason when one becomes a school administrator.

How do you suppose kids from poor families feel when there is not a penny to spare for pledging?  How do you suppose kids from families where they are the only english speakers will get support?  How do you suppose kids from families where the parents work 2nd and 3rd shifts will get support?  How do you suppose kids from very dysfunctional families will get support?  And now consider the kids with learning disabilities, autism, emotional/behavioral issues, anxiety, memory deficits, recall issues, poor study skills, no interest, lower academic ability.  

We just got an email from the classroom teacher requesting 4 parents volunteer to come in on the knowledge-a-thon day and do one-on-one quizzing. So they are going to pull each kiddo out to a quiet place with a parent they don't know and get quizzed.  100 questions will be asked.  The kids are scored and then go back to their family members and collect their pledges.  

Think about that a minute.  

"Hey, Grandma.  I am here to collect on your pledge for the knowledge-a-thon.  I only got 10 right." 

So, not only are they humiliated while being quizzed, they are again humiliated when they have to go collect the pledges if they didn't do so well.  

So I excused Movie Man.  I will gladly write a check for his admission to the water park and his share of the bus.  I will also gladly donate the same amount for a classmate in need.

My quandary now is whether or not to bring this to the administrator's attention once it is all over so this does not happen again.  



  1. I think there is one important point that you missed. How about confidentiality of a child's performance? My child's performance should NOT be heard and scored by a random parent.


  2. My current school has had a knowledge-a-thon for 12 years running. Every child gets sponsored (staff and community people sponsor those who have no one), the questions are curricular (so that they stand a chance of already knowing them), and the testers are volunteers from high school honor society and local parents. Sometimes even board members show up.
    Special ed and ELL kiddos only learn a percentage of the questions.
    But anyway, it can work if it's done right. :)
    Love ya!

  3. Anonymous,
    YES! Excellent point and I am sorry I missed that one as it is highly important. Keep me mindful!
    Thank you!


Although I am dangerously opinionated, I am a flexible thinker and welcome your thoughts.