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Really Mad about Magazine Pushing

Original post made by Parent on Sep 17, 2007

My JLS student came home today all gung ho about pushing magazines - and asked me for my address book. Apparently they learned that if they sell 12 subscriptions, they get a jamba juice, a movie pass, and a drawing for a chance to win some $. The 'prize' for selling six is a giant sticky hand, or a lanyard, or some other such garbage.

Meanwhile, the cost for magazine subscriptions is about $15 - $20 each. At 10 subscriptions, that about $200 dollars.

Now, JLS PTA ought to be real clear that I'm either donating $160 directly to JLS PTA -OR- I'm spending $160 on magazines, of which JLS will get only a fraction of the proceeds. IM NOT DOING BOTH. (Here's the math, we only have two Grandma's so at most she's getting two there, so for her to get a pathetic prize - which she's been convinced is fabulous, I'll have to make up the difference.)

And it really annoys me that our kids were (againt our will) brought in to the MP room, and hard sold the magazine sales pitch - because 7th graders don't know they're being USED.

Either this, or I guess I'll lecture her, and let her watch all her friends participate in this really fun and fabulous 'game show' atmosphere at school.

I think it stinks. So JLS PTA - hear ye, hear ye: any money I spend on magazines, to help my daughter get her free Jamba juice, is money you WON"T be seeing in form of check from me.

Comments (58)

Posted by JLS Parent, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Sep 17, 2007 at 7:53 pm

What makes it worse, and I checked last year not this year, is that they are told that by taking out a subscription that you will save money. This is not right. I checked with the magazines I already subscribe for. These subscriptions are more expensive. I also checked a couple of cds that the kids wanted me to order, they are cheaper on Amazon. The magazines subscription may be cheaper than buying one copy at the airport or somewhere, but this is not a cheap way to buy magazines.

The kids also want to buy from neighbors. We have so many JLS kids in the neighborhood, that I am sure that the few neighbors without kids there are being bombarded by kids wanting them to sign up.

This is definitely not a good idea. Fund raisers, bah humbug. And, don't ask me for more gift wrap orders (I know they are coming). I have enough to keep me going for the next five years.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 17, 2007 at 8:56 pm

Does anubody remember how many Liberty magazines you had to sell to earn a bicycle?

Posted by Kathy Schroeder, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Sep 17, 2007 at 9:02 pm

As current JLS PTA President, I have to say this thread really bums me out, because the magazine drive is NOT a PTA function. We in the PTA have passed on the negative perceptions about this drive to the administration but have been stymied because the program last year raised nearly $30,000 for student-led activities at JLS, including class-based activities, clubs, lunchtime activities, dances, class gifts and other things that otherwise could not take place. The PTA cannot afford to replace that sum unless we ask parents for more in donations. This year, we asked parents for LESS, since parents also face PiE requests and we want both programs to be successful.

So, we love that the kids are able to pursue neat class-based activities with these funds but we also are not huge fans personally of the program. Please note, though, that not ONE PENNY of this drive enriches the PTA coffers--we only supply the volunteers to help process this drive.

Kathy Schroeder
JLS PTA President
schroedr * (replace the * with @)

PS Also, we do offer families the option of making a direct donation to the school to completely avoid the drive and yet contribute to these class activities. We sent a specific notice about this option in an enews published to the JLS community last night, Sunday, September 16.

Posted by PalyHigh parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 17, 2007 at 10:51 pm

When kids come to the door selling stuff I usually say no thanks. It's usually for some goal I don't think is worth working toward. But when it is a youngster I know, it's harder to say no but I'm learning. When they leave I feel as though I've been through extortion. Once I bought a tub of cookie dough, it was so high in fat, and so high in cholesterol I couldn't use it. yuk.
Such junk values. Sell something they don't need to people who will find it hard to say no. Great values being taught to our kids: use people to make money.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 18, 2007 at 6:19 am

My door sign is "If you ain't a Girl Scout, git!"

Posted by qq, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 18, 2007 at 7:16 am

I put that stuff directly in the recycle bin. No dead tree sellers in my household. As affluent as this area is, why should our kids be peddling magazine subscriptions for the corporate media. They should sell online subscriptions to the school paper and make money that way. ;-) Instead, they are being told to sell an overpriced subscriptions to some crappy magazines with a 'Made in China' poison train product as a prize.

No thanks.


Posted by former magazine drive volunteer, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Sep 18, 2007 at 8:05 am

Money raised through the magazine drive at each of the middle schools goes to the Student Council/Events account at each school. But it has often been confused as a PTA fundraiser. The JLS PTA helps with volunteers to process the paperwork but it is not a JLS PTA fundraiser and it does not receive any of the money (just check the JLS PTA budget).

While volunteering, we used to have the conversation whether the school should have a magazine drive and whether the JLS PTA should even be involved with providing volunteers. Terman PTA and I believe Jordan's PTA are not involved in providing volunteers for the magazine drive. Ultimately, those of us around the table processing forms felt that the JLS PTA providing volunteers for the magazine drive was just another way to help the school.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2007 at 9:16 am

Ok - its semantics on whether the PTA is driving the drive, helping with the drive, or not at all involved with the drive. JLS Adults should not be promoting this. JLS Adults should be looking for another way to help the kids raise the money.

How many kids are at JLS? 1000? So if everyone gives JLS Student Body $30, then that's $30,000 dollars of easily raised, money that goes 100% DIRECTLY to a good cause - without the paper waste, the bad messages to our kids, the major hassle (my daughter came right home and spent HOURS on that stupid thing last night), AND the money is going to our kids, not to the media that poisons our kids.

AND every parent that donates $30 ends up saving about $100, by not being roped in to buying magazines they don't need.

Here's an idea - how about if the kids run a pledge drive, that pays kids for the number of laps they run, or the pounds of trash collected, or something that actually teaches them something?

Kathy Schroeder, PTA President - would you please help out by bringing this message string to the attention of the JLS ADULTS who are in charge of letting the magazine drive happen (and who are in charge of inviting the magazine drive people come and give an assembly to our kids to indoctrinate them into selling their junk?) Thanks for your help.

And you're right - its dangerous and really a shame that the PTA is at risk of getting less funding because of this. But that's the fact of the matter.

Posted by RS, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 18, 2007 at 10:17 am

When my kids went through Jordan, my wife and I would not allow them to participate in the magazine fundraiser. It was a little hard on them because at the time because participants that reached a certain level would get a day off school and get to go to the Hard Rock Cafe in San Francisco.

We did donate cash to the fund to replace the magazines they did not sell and we did take them ourselves to the hard rock cafe. I'm sure going with mom and dad was a weak substitute for going with your classmates when you are in middle school though.

I really disliked that fundraiser an order of magnitude above all others. Its not the selling that bothers me, its the selling of magazines because magazines are just a magnet for getting on junk mail lists.

I'd willingly buy something like Almond Roca and when I was a kid we made this kind of money for student activities doing just that and it was a really easy sell.

Posted by Kathy Schroeder, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Sep 18, 2007 at 11:29 am

Parent, the discussion about this thread has already begun at JLS. Thank you for raising the issue.

And please note that for the PTA it's a LOT more than just semantics if it's a PTA-sponsored event for which we receive revenues versus one for which we help round up volunteers for the school (As a side note, JLS staff and the PTA are both *extremely* thankful to our parent volunteers for helping with many JLS school functions, from Picture Day--today!--to hearing and vision checks to the magazine drive to dances. Thanks to all the parents who help out with this stuff, which makes life MUCH easier around school!).

If anyone knows of any fundraisers that seem more appropriate (aside from asking parents directly for the money), please post suggestions and links here.

Kathy Schroeder

Posted by A Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2007 at 12:55 pm

How about car washes?

Posted by janet, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 18, 2007 at 1:10 pm


By providing volunteers, the PTA is sanctioning this idiotic activity, which is promoting all the wrong values and wasting money, trashing the environment besides.

Posted by JLS Parent, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Sep 18, 2007 at 1:14 pm

Presumably, the reason why the school continues year after year with this drive is because it is successful. If we as parents don't subscribe and don't volunteer to help it may make them realise we don't want it. Additionally, if we complain about the kids being out of class for the kick off, or actually ask next year that they be excused from the kick off assembly, then they may listen.

If we continue to go along with it, they won't hear.

Posted by jordan parent, a resident of University South
on Sep 18, 2007 at 2:21 pm

What makes this so tough for those of us who hate this fundraiser and have kids at the school is the way the prizes are so wonderful, and are not reproducible by parents. A limo ride with your friends during lunch? A day off school to go to Hard Rock Cafe? Why are the schools sanctioning this way of rewarding only those kids who paricipate in this paricular unsavory fundraiser?

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2007 at 2:25 pm

How about some movie nights at JLS - kids come to watch movie in the gym or cafeteria - they bring sleeping bags or pads to sit on, they get some simple snacks - they get some supervision from volunteer parents - they go home 2 hrs later.
Charge $15 per kid.

How about Kid run rummage sale? (Kids donate their own stuff, sell at lunch time on the field. Proceeds to JLS student fund. Charge $1 to get in. Hey, at least its recycling.)

I mean, if you want to find creative ways to raise money, there are probably tons, but frankly, I think a $30 straight donation at beginning of year would be a lot easier on all the grownups all the way around. If kids want to get together and supplement somehow, then maybe they should take on the responsibility for creating a fund raising committee and brainstorming and carrying out some ideas.

What better 'real life' learning process could there be?

Posted by Mary, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 18, 2007 at 2:27 pm

It's not just JLS. Jordan is doing it too, but there it is not only magazines but gift wrapping, food items, and all sorts of gift items out of a rather expensive catalog. We have so many Jordan students, but the one who came to our door was so charming that I havHe likes math and was fascinated with all the old electronic 'junk' in our garage. I've rarely seen a young man with perfection-manners, charm, and the ability to sell. There are 'big prizes to the highest sellers', he said. So, senior that I am, I bought something. I remember the Girl Scout cookie drives so very long ago and delivering cookies in the old station wagon. I also brake for lemonade stands.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2007 at 2:31 pm

Well, great idea right there. How about if they just sell raffle tickets to win a prize like that? The cost of prize would have to come out of the proceeds of the raffle.

They could raffle off ipods, or a chance to have lunch with someone famous (someone always knows someone famous willing to donate an hour lunch break) or a group gathering at stanford game, or something.

But better yet, they form a student run committee to come up with these ideas themselves.. And they get some sort of school sponsored reward at the end of the year for participation onthe committee.

Posted by Yet Another JLS Parent, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 18, 2007 at 2:36 pm

Parent (the originator of this thread),

Your daughter does not HAVE to get the prize for selling 12 subsriptions, and you should not feel the need to "make up the difference" by buying subscriptions so that she'll get this prize.

There seem to be a lot of people who don't like the magazine sales. However, there are also plenty of people out there who do read some magazines on a regular basis, and who are happy to renew through someone they know as part of a fundraising drive. Often these magazine companies will match the regular renewal price in order to be competitive. While I don't believe in the hard sell, if only one Palo Alto group was using this as a fundraiser, I think it would be fine. At this point, we've got Girl Scouts, the middle schools, and now Fairmeadow selling magazines (I don't know about the other elementary schools). It's time to come up with some new ideas.

Posted by the real issue here?, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 18, 2007 at 3:10 pm

I agree that the magazine drive is tacky in SO many ways. That being said, maybe the underlying issue to address and get upset about is school funding in general from both the state and the feds. To paraphrase the bumper sticker: maybe the military should have a bake sale (magazine drive) to fund itself so schools could have some money. Remember too: NCLB is an unfunded federal mandate. The state and district find money to test test test...

Posted by PA mom, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 18, 2007 at 4:20 pm

Contact the Principal with your comments. If he is made aware of parents feelings, he can act accordingly next year - maybe by eliminating the magazine drive! (to make things worse, a few years ago I placed an order with Jordan and never received the magazines...)

Posted by Hulkamania, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 18, 2007 at 7:49 pm

I'm all for kids earning money for activities but the magazine selection is always so limited. When they start carrying Aircraft Maintenance Technology, All About Beer, Easy Rider, Soldier Of Fortune, Modern Drunkard, Contemporary Diagnostic Radiology, Watercolor Magic, Macworld, Mental Floss, Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords, Yachting and Architectural Digest, I'll be totally there with my checkbook.

Posted by Logical, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2007 at 7:57 pm

PalyHigh parent,

This is a little off topic, but you hit on something I think is at the heart of what Palo Alto has become. To quote you:

"Sell something they don't need to people who will find it hard to say no."

If that isn't the epitome of Palo Alto retail now, I don't know what is...... And JLS is just following the example. Please don't admonish the school and the kids. They are just following the mentality that works on University Avenue.

Posted by Mike, a resident of University South
on Sep 18, 2007 at 8:33 pm

Do the students carry permits as described by the Palo Alto Police? And are they trained to obey NO SOLICITORS signs?

Web Link

Posted by jordan parent, a resident of University South
on Sep 18, 2007 at 9:51 pm

Actually, Hulkmania, they don't have everything on your list, but they do have Watercolor Magic, Mental Floss, Muscle Mustangs and Fast Fords, Yachting, and Architectural Digest. And close to what you want, they have Flying, Kitplanes, and Warbirds International, Brew Your Own, Cycle World and Dirt Rider, Military Heritage, Military History, and Military Vehicles, and MacLife.

Really wanna subscribe? My kid wants that stupid limo ride. Email me at shopper (at) gmail . com.

Posted by David, a resident of Professorville
on Sep 18, 2007 at 11:48 pm

I remember the magazine drive. It was kind of good in that I saw some reading that I could do (it was hard for me to willingly read). I didn't , however, see all the negativity that stemmed from it. I remember we also did wrapping paper drives in elementary school. Now i view all this as a bunch of crap. The prizes are crap too.

Posted by Mayfield Child, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 19, 2007 at 1:49 am

Gee Walter: That's about as bad as having to get all those tickets from the Beach and Boardwalk or Great America to get something worth ANYTHING!!!!! My boys saved their Great America tickets for YEARS and put them into a the time they decided that they may have enough to ACTUALLY get something big, Great America was sold and Paramount would not honor their OLD tickets!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND, I, as a youngster in Palo Alto, tried most every Saturday at the Varsity Theater to win one of those beautiful shiny Schwinn bikes that they gave away on stage in a drawing.....never happened. I was miffed when they closed the Varsity...never did have another chance.

Posted by Mayfield Child, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 19, 2007 at 2:09 am

By the way..(got off the subject there!) I would be delighted to hear that the PTA would sponsor a noon time~ good old fashioned~ SOCK HOP for the student(s) bodies!!!!!!!! Not only would the entry fee for the half hour help out financially, but it also would be serving as a recreational activity to relieve stressful tension between classes!!!!!!!!!! How about that??????????

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 19, 2007 at 8:40 am

Mike, my child doesn't go out soliciting neighbors for these magazines. Few do I think.

The only way for her to make any sales is to grandma grandpa mom dad, and perhaps a relative by mail contact.. So all the more reason why the magazine drive sucks - she feels pressure to sell 8,10,12 subscriptions - to all of about 3 people. So what happens? No one wants magazine subscriptions! Grandma's both buy subscriptions for the kids, and I buy a couple out of obligation (which I never would have bought on my own). I end up with about 6 magazine subscriptions coming to MY house, which becomes clutter in the house, and paper trash for the environment, and she doesn't even make the 'prize' numbers she was hoping to make. And to make matters worse - JLS only received a fraction of the money spent. All the way around - a bust.

Another idea - how about if the students put together a lunch time: JLS's got Talent competition. And charge 50 cents for votes or something...

Posted by PA mom, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 19, 2007 at 9:08 am

When my child was at Jordan - the book fair was unbelievably low-key - to the point of non-existence. Why not beef up something worthwhile like the book fair as a fundraiser?

Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 19, 2007 at 10:13 am

Now I know why one of the neighborhood kids asked if I'd like to buy magazines. He's a great kid and I felt bad saying no, but we already have way too much to read. I didn't know that JLS had put him up to it.

This is nonsense and I agree that it's not fair to our kids to have them out hawking stuff for tacky prizes. Whose idea was this? JLS? The school district? The PTA?

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 19, 2007 at 10:19 am

Twice this week my son missed p.e. First on Monday he missed p.e. for the magazine drive assembly and then yesterday he missed p.e. for picture day.

I realise that pictures must be taken and a class has to be missed, but having the same class missed two days running is a bit much. If everyone is missing two p.e. classes this week, it shows how little the admin. feel about the kids getting exercise. If it is different for others, then the least they could do was make sure it wasn't the same class missed two days running.

Posted by eric, a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 19, 2007 at 10:31 am

Why is having kids earn money through hard work for programs that benefit them directly "a bad message"? If the kids parents are doing the heavy lifting for them, then who is creating the poor environment?

Posted by yet another parent, a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 19, 2007 at 11:07 am

Eric, there's nothing wrong what you describe, per se. At issue is whether *magazine sales* are the best way to accomplish this, for the reasons so many people described above. What's wrong with brainstorming other ways for kids to "earn money through hard work for programs that benefit them directly" which result in them being able to keep most of that hard-earned money rather than being pimped?

If the object is to teach them to earn money for their school through hard work, why not give them more ownership of how it's done? But if the object is to make a quick $30K with outside help because it's easier to repeat than to rethink and possibly come up short a few times...

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 19, 2007 at 11:14 am

Why not figure out ways to have kids in fund-raisers that keeps ALL the money raised in the district?

I can think of small capital improvements that could be made at EVERY school, EVERY year.

PLaygrounds, athetic equipment, theatre venues, media equipment, a student effort to help out the poor in our community, etc. etc.

Posted by Auntie Checkbook, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 19, 2007 at 2:22 pm

I have two nieces who live in one of the San Jose school districts. I'm now being bombarded with email because their mom put my address on a list for both of their fundraisers. (One private school, one public school.) I'm being hounded by emails ordering me to buy gift wrap, magazines, junk of various types, candy, popcorn ... ARGH!

I don't want ANY of that stuff, but I don't mind helping out the kids' schools. I told both of my nieces that I would give them each a $25 donation to their schools -- and they turned me down. They want the #&(*ing prizes. They are completely disconnected from the REASONS for these fundraisers and are focused on what it will do for THEM personally (prizes).

When my kids were in P.A. schools, I felt the same way most of the parents in this discussion feel about the magazine drives. Ugh! I signed up for a renewal of a magazine I'd subscribed to for a long time, which resulted in a huge mess for a couple of years. I got two copies of the magazine rather than an extension of my subscription after being assured that that wouldn't happen.

I have since declined to participate in any magazine drives.

Now I'm paying two sets of college tuition, so I don't have much $$ left over for junk being pushed by the schools.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 19, 2007 at 8:19 pm

Both my kids went through Jordan Middle School and neither was allowed to participate in this magazine sham. Shame on the Jordan and JLS administrators and PTA "volunteers" for helping out with this nonsense. Pushing the kids into selling this stuff for prizes is wrong. The adults need to just cut it out and stop presenting this stuff to the kids during school.

Posted by Paige, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2007 at 1:21 pm


"Shame on PTA volunteers and the school administrators?" How about writing each school a check for $40,000? That's a lot of car washes! Maybe you would like to organize them! Say good-bye to clubs, intramurals, activities, and subsidizing of field trips and athletics. And you can tell the kids!

Posted by PA mom, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 20, 2007 at 1:44 pm

2006-2007 School Year

JLS raised over 92,000 in their direct appeal
Jordan targeted 120,000 in their direct appeal
Terman raised about 65,000 in their direct appeal

So why do our kids need to sell magazines?

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2007 at 2:24 pm

Paige - you must have missed the rest of the thread. One person doesn't need to write a check for 40K. If each parent wrote an extra check for $40, that would about cover it. And it would vastly save each parent money over and above what they otherwise would have spent on magazines/wrapping paper, etc.

And how much time would that save these poor PTA volunteers - for something else...

Posted by ex Jordan parent, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 20, 2007 at 2:36 pm

I remember my kids (who went to Jordan) telling me about the assemblies high pressuring kids to sell magazines. We never participated. End of story.

I am not in favor of door-to-door sales.
I don't like schemes with "prizes" for motivation.
I do think appropriate recognition and thanks for those contributing makes sense and is polite.

It IS a good idea for students to be involved with safe, reasonable fundraisers. Why don't we think creatively about this? I do think the expectations should be limited - to seemingly require the student body of a middle school to come up with many thousands of dollars doesn't seem right to me. Let's me more modest.

We had some charming bake sales with student and parent participation at the private elementary school my kids attended some years ago. Everyone did a little bit; everyone was enthusiastic. I helped with car washes as a kid, but there must be something better.

Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 20, 2007 at 2:38 pm

Bake sales have been banned, so I am told, because of childhood obesity.

Posted by Annoyed Parent, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Sep 21, 2007 at 1:22 am

My child was initially all upset when I told her we're not doing this, because she was blinded by the lure of the so-called "prizes". She's now had the family discussion on how the kids are being used (bolstered by our Gunn High Schooler, who agrees with us.)

Personally, I find this pretty low behavior, to push and connive impressionable kids into hawking products for other people. This is not even "kid initiative", like a lemonade stand (the method our kids chose to use last year to raise money for the Humane Society.) I really don't like what this teaches our kids.

JLS needs money? I can give the school money directly, thank you, all of it for use by JLS. I can also take my kid to the movies, or get her a Jamba Juice, or a stupid it'll-be-in-the-garbage-in-2-weeks sticky hand; it's not like those cost an arm and a leg.

Our family and everyone in our extended family really do NOT want any more magazines than we already get (and have almost no time to read), so she can't sell to us.

All her friends at JLS got this same "tempting offer", so if any magazines are sold to their families it will be by THEM, not our child.

I will NOT let my child go door-to-door, even to the neighbors, to sell unsolicited junk that's not even her own. Period.

Sorry, magazine publishers, but your ''great deal" has already been circular-filed in THIS house.

Posted by eric, a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 21, 2007 at 2:24 pm

Yet Another Parent, I suspect that the reason for the continued interest in the magazine sales program is that it is a turnkey setup with a reasonably good return for the school. The overwhelming majority of fundraising programs provide a horrible ROI for the organization putting them on.

Annoyed Parent: thank you for making my point-- you're ok with just giving your kid the money for their jamba juice, etc, and cutting another check to the school. My allowance stopped when I was 12-- spending money came from many a crummy job!

You know, the cookie manufacturer probably makes money from the girl scouts in your neighborhood...

Posted by 8th grade parent, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Sep 21, 2007 at 2:48 pm

I've been calling this 'quilt giving' for many years now. It works and it works well. And professional fundraiser's, who make a lot of money btw, know it works. It is hard to say 'no' to friends, neighbors and family members. But it is very hard to say 'no' to kids of friends, neighbors, and family members. I can't do it even though I feel so strongly against it. I will buy those Girl Scout cookies even though I DON'T need them.

And guess what, if you ask your friends, coworkers, neighbors, and family then next month they turn around and ask you back. So you spend, sorry I mean give, no matter what. It gets you coming and going.

Now it's not just JLS asking us for 'much needed' money. It's the soccer teams, the gym's, the music programs, the drama clubs. Everyone wants that 'much needed' money. I'm sure we are asked just about daily to give.

My husband and I realized a couple of years ago that all of our 'charity' money goes to 'guilt giving' and not to the organizations that we really want to give to. For us, that's the American Cancer Society, hunger programs, etc. But after all the 'guilt giving' has taken place we have very little left to give to the ones we feel strongly about.

So last year, we decided to list all the organizations we want to give to and the amounts we want to give. We write the checks in January and then say no to everything else. Unfortunately, it is still hard to say 'no'. But giving this way feels good to us. 'Quilt giving' just feels like another bill to pay.

We are also trying to teach our kids that giving is VERY important, especially when we are as fortunate as we are. But that fundraising just to get more money back to yourself is not 'giving'. So my kids know that they cannot participate in fundraising unless the money goes to benefit others; let alone fundraising just for those fabulous sticky hands. I know every year when they come back from 'those assemblies' they are going to be sad.

Posted by PV Parent, a resident of Palo Verde School
on Sep 21, 2007 at 5:26 pm

Yes, we were right. My elementary student came home today with the gift wrap catalog and the same excitement about winning "prizes". I haven't used all I bought last year.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2007 at 9:38 pm

"for student-led activities at JLS, including class-based activities, clubs, lunchtime activities, dances, class gifts and other things that otherwise could not take place"

I'd like to see a breakdown of how much was spent on these 'student led activities - the ones listed, and the 'other things'.. Where can we see this?

Maybe the students have gotten used to sort of rich diet of extras in some of these areas? Do they need to raise $30,000 every year? That's alot of $. For example, how much does a dance cost? How much to they raise in ticket sales? What's the difference being made up by the mag sales?

And how much is spent on 'class gift'? What is being purchased as 'class gift'. because isn't this just really saying 'parent gift to JLS using 50cents-on-the-dollar purchasing power raised through the mag sales? Maybe parents should have a vote in the 'class gift' (as in - being told what they're buying, and then being asked for the $ directly.)

how do we get this info?

Posted by Annoyed parent, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Sep 22, 2007 at 11:45 pm

"Annoyed Parent: thank you for making my point-- you're ok with just giving your kid the money for their jamba juice, etc, and cutting another check to the school. My allowance stopped when I was 12-- spending money came from many a crummy job!"

Eric, PLEASE don't assume you "know" that I am "proving your point" and that my children thrive on parental handouts and are not taught the value of hard work to get what they desire. You don't know me or my family personally, do you? I didn't think so. If I say I can (not "will") buy my kids the occasional juice drink or whatever, please do not make the leap from that statement to assume that my kids are not taught the value of earning things via hard work.

I don't know if your allowance until 12 was earned or simply "granted", but my children still earn an allowance (the amount of which is probably fairly trivial by comparison with their peers in this day and age) - assuming and only if they get their regular household chores completed. They can do extra work caring for neighbors houses and yards and babysitting - which they do when they actually want to "spend big" (again, probably trivial by local standards - they can buy a few paperback books, or a videogame!) My eldest also sells commissioned artwork online and at various events. What my children can NOT do, until they are the age of 16 and can get a legal work permit, is work at, say, Jamba Juice itself.

Our eldest is a penny-counting skinflint who constantly advises her own parents on the prices of various things - yet she occasionally buys a treat (with her earned money) such as a juice for her own friends who live in assisted housing (in Palo Alto - such a thing actually exists.) Maybe someday these friends will reciprocate when they can, or maybe they will "pass it forward" and help someone else out. The point is, I believe our children are acquiring some sound judgment and good values as well as a respect for where money comes from.

I buy my adult friends the occasional lunch or dinner (which they usually eventually reciprocate), why should I practice automatic "punitive stinginess" with my own children, who as far as I can see already appreciate the value of the money they earn on their own? In that light, the occasional treat of a juice drink or a family movie ticket is not something I'm going to automatically "withhold unless it's earned, on principle". I find that sort of hard line a bit excessive and rather not quite a model of conscientious (though not blind) generosity.

Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 23, 2007 at 4:25 pm

The comment that "student-led activities at JLS, including class-based activities, clubs, lunchtime activities, dances, class gifts and other things that otherwise could not take place" is ridiculous, as stated earlier in the 2006-2007 School Year JLS raised more than 92,000 in their direct appeal. They can't fund a few student activities out of that?

Posted by Wife, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2007 at 1:05 pm

My husband presented me with a cheap pen with a cheap silk flower attached to it which he felt cheated into buying from one of the women at his office. Her son had made it at school and she was selling them to help his school. My husband felt obliged to buy something he didn't want. I would have been too embarrassed to try to sell something like this.

This is just too bad. Why can't schools be properly funded?

Posted by Paly parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 26, 2007 at 10:07 am

That's possibly even worse, with the parent doing the selling for the kid, in the workplace no less!

Posted by Julie Smith, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 26, 2007 at 5:10 pm

It would be nice if every parent wrote a check to cover these student activities, but in fact they do not! As a result, the money needs to be raised for our children's activities. I have helped out at these events and there are far more people commenting on this web site than I have ever seen volunteer.
Maybe if some of you helped more with time and money and complained less, we would not need a fundraiser.
Many of us do read. I would rather give a school 50% of my subscription price than do give Time 100% of the money.

Posted by Claire, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Sep 26, 2007 at 5:30 pm

I find the complaint from the parent about school magazine fund raisers odd. What is wrong with helping out our schools? Our government is doing so little and our kids deserve so much more. I buy several magazines every year. I give subscriptions to my nieces and nephews for the holidays. I am doing what I can to help encourage reading. We all need to do our part. I agree that I would rather give to my local school and support a fund raiser than give all of the profit to a big magazine publisher. I think the parent missed the point. Supporting reading while helping our schools is (as Martha would say) A good thing.

Posted by un-magazine drive, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Sep 26, 2007 at 5:38 pm

How about an un-magazine drive?
Ding-dong! "Hi, I'm from the local middle school and I'm NOT selling magazines this year because we only get 50% of the money we work so hard to raise for our school. Besides, the magazine rates are more expensive if you buy through fundraising than going through the publishers discount rates. What we're asking for instead is a donation. You'll be helping our school AND keeping your magazine subscription rates down. We're suggesting a donation of 50% of whatever magazines you're currently subscribed to. If you donate, we'll give you this leaflet of where to find the best rates for the magazines we used to sell last year."

Posted by James, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Sep 26, 2007 at 5:48 pm

My son goes to Jordan and they do honor the high value coupons that my magazine company's provide me from time to time. Even though I get a great rate ( since I have been a long term subscriber ) Jordan does not have a problem honoring these coupons. Maybe the other schools are not as reasonable.

Posted by Claire, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Sep 26, 2007 at 5:56 pm

I find the time we are all spending complaining about a GOOD THING ridiculious. What is the complaint? You don't want to support your schools? I'll bet those of you complaining are the same ones who don't volunteer to help out at school, don't make the requested donations and are generally miserable people. Get over it. It is a fundraiser for kids. I think the kids learn valuable lessons from an adult's response to a sales pitch. No one is saying go door to door. I get requests via the Internet from my nieces and nephews. How much easier can that be. If you don't want to buy then say "no" nicely and let those of us who want to support our children and schools make our contributions as we always do.

Posted by Janet, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Sep 26, 2007 at 6:43 pm

Hi All, Let's fact it. When we were kids the schools had lots of money to fund everything including music, athletics, sewing, shop, typing... you name it. Those days are over. California is not properly funding our schools. All of these programs have been cut or require parent support. I'm all for reasonable fund raising. Magazines are better than Girl Scout Cookies and a 50% return sounds excellent. Where else can anyone get that return with what sounds like very little effort.

Posted by Anne, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Sep 26, 2007 at 6:51 pm

This is very simple ; if you do not want to participate , Don't. Write a check to the kid's activities and move on. There are too many big issues to worry about vs.such small things as a fundraiser. I don't mind helping by buying a magazine that I buy anyway.

Posted by former JLS student council member, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2007 at 11:50 pm

Not all of the money from direct appeal goes to student activities, in fact, i think very little of of actually does. From what i remember, the 8th grade class is given $500 for the class gift. a dj for the dance costs $500, so unless 100 students go to the dance (assuming that tickets sell for $5), the school is losing money. and as for your kid being "against our will) brought in to the MP room," maybe you should just homeschool your kid, maybe you shouldn't let her watch any tv. If she's in 7th grade, didn't you already go through this last year? dont be such a pushover, dont buy the magazines. people who went to jls know that by the time you get to 8th grade, no one really cares about the magazine drive anymore, only the few who always sell like 80. The 6th graders always sell the most, and thats just how it is. the magazine drive is a middle school experience that you won't ever get after middle school. the magazine drive is a way for students to learn how to get people interested in something or accept rejection. Either will be important in life later on. so dont bash the magazine drive just because your daughter is so infatuated with the prizes. think of it as a good learning experience.

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