Homework for parents, get out your checkbooks.

@postaday 230; #postaday2011.

At the start of each school year in Hawaii, which began August 1, 2011, children bring home reams of paperwork for parents to fill out. I always grumble about the lack of a database each year because I’m filling out the same big card for the health room, the same information for the front office, the same names and phone numbers and addresses of those people authorized to spring my kids from the facilities, and the same information for the A+ programs. It gets tedious and seems to be a huge waste of time and money.

Really? There is no information about my children and my family in a Hawaii Department of Education computer somewhere? No Excel spreadsheets, no email programs, no test scores? Really? I tend to think there is. Someone is lazy. I just don’t get it.

Music is central to my girls’ education, and there are related expenses. We sacrifice so that they may develop these talents. It’s OK. It really, really is! Both girls have been taking piano lessons for a few years, and Kid1 plays viola. She gets viola lessons from a woman with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, and she gets training at school as orchestra is part of her curriculum. Kid2 thinks she wants to play cello, bassoon or clarinet. Frankly, I think she drums her fingers a lot. We’ll let the school music department sorting hat decide exactly what, but John has ruled out giant instruments. He drives a Fit. we just don’t want to be committed to an instrument that needs a seat belt!

The other part of parent homework is writing out checks for student activities, meal tracker accounts, transportation, and for the music department and the parent group. I don’t like it when I’m paying $85 a month to the A+ program and then they put up a sign-up sheet for parents to donate food, money or paper towels and such. The hand-wringing speech I got from the staff about it turned my stomach. If my kid is hungry after school, she can bring a snack or she can wait an hour more for her home-cooked meal.

The music department insists every child take home about $480 worth of $6 tickets to sell  manapua, cinnamon bread, pizza or pound cake. They have to sell 20 of each of these products. The people who buy them and want to write a check have to write a check to the child’s parent. I guess if they make a note on the check what it’s for, it can be a tax deduction? I don’t know. The parent then has to write one check and only one check to the music department. The child must not lose any tickets or the parent has to pay for them all. And the parent cannot decline taking the tickets.

Strong armed? Yes, I do believe so. From what I understand, there are now dietary guidelines in place at our schools, and except for the pizza, I think that none of these items would be available for students to consume. In fact, I think most school cafeteria guidelines wouldn’t include these products, except for the pizza. We don’t eat these items at home, except for the pizza, and the pizza we make at home is cheaper and healthier. I also wouldn’t ask anyone to buy any of these products. Anyone who is trying to be careful about their health and weight wouldn’t want to have such tempting items within reach. When I was growing up, my parents never sold our fundraiser tickets. If we wanted to go on a band trip, we’d have to go door-to-door and sell the hoagie tickets ourselves for a dollar each, half to each kid. But these days, you cannot send your child door-to-door, even in your own neighborhood, and it goes against my grain to ask people at work to buy tickets and I don’t like to be asked to buy either. I’m trying to get my own kid through school. Please, that’s difficult enough!

So, yes, I’ll write a check, after we sign out and return all of the fundraiser tickets. I’ve brought up in years past about selling items that aren’t very healthy, such as Portuguese sausage and sweet bread. I get blown off, which results in my distancing myself even more from the program. Honestly, to avoid going through the motions of selling crap, I think many parents would just pony up another check and be done with it. When will this pathetic dance end?

Oh, I’m so grumbly today! I guess so. Sometimes it feels like public school is as expensive as private school. I know it’s not, but it feels like it. I won’t be bullied.


By lavagal

Hawaii Kai wife and mom. Melanoma Stage 3a Cancer survivor. English Language Arts teacher, English Learners Coordinator, and Paraprofessional Tutor. Super sub teacher. Dormant triathlete. Road cyclist and Masters swimmer. Gardener. Mrs. Fixit. Random dancer. Music Curator. A teenager trapped in an aging body. Did you know 60 is the new 40? It is.


  1. I feel your pain. I paid a huge amount of fees to Kaiser High School this summer and just paid a $35 art fee for Micah’s supplies and another $15 for English. On top of that, I find out that he doesn’t have text books because Kaiser can’t afford to provide every kid with a set. And of course, every class has asked for paper towels and tissue, thereby depleting my Costco supply. Why can’t the DOE be creative and ask parents to pay a text book rental fee? Sheesh…it’s not like we reside in a poor district. Parents would squawk but that’s a small price to pay for education when we’re not paying tuition.

  2. You aren’t the only parent that is unhappy about the fundraising! I have felt the same way for years and found out that many other parents did as well. So many of us asked about making a monetary donation in lieu of selling that the school changed the policy. All fundraisers are now optional. Since the school didn’t make that much per item sold, the monetary donation isn’t large. It is so much cheaper than buying useless junk that we will never eat/use…

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