Friday, December 19, 2014

Who volunteers and what that means for kids

The New York Times Motherlode post "When Elite Parents Dominate Volunteers, Children Lose" hits precisely what I've been feeling a great deal this season (as can be attested by more than one patient administrator who has heard my rant on it). I am relieved to see it being expressed this way in a public forum, and I hope that this will be making its way to more PTO and site council meetings.
I am enormously grateful for parents who volunteer: in Worcester, we wouldn't have had (or still have) elementary school libraries, field trips, playgrounds, and a host of other necessities that aren't funded as if they are. I also appreciate those who push to get things done when many don't have the time.
Often, very often, it is those with the luxury--and it is the luxury--of time and money to spare who do so. And having those parents make the decisions around activities and fundraisers leads to exactly the dispartity put forward by the column.
We need to be acutely conscious, most particularly if it is we who are the volunteers, of this disparity. In Worcester, for example, 74.3% of our public school students are free or reduced lunch eligible. Out of every four kids, three of them have a family that is struggling to keep that kid in sneakers. That's the silent majority that may well not be at the meeting where the decisions are made. Their voices need to be heard, nonetheless.

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