Prior to working at my current charter school, I was employed for four years at another charter that was considered legitimate inner-city. Our charter was held by a company and run by a man who knew how to fundraise. He was a pro. I don’t know who he talked to or how he managed to get our little place the big bucks, but we did pretty well.
The whole fundraising idea was never even brought to our attention. As teachers our job was to do just that… Teach! What happened in the “back of the house” wasn’t anything for us to stress about. If we needed something, we asked and poof! It was there. I know that this isn’t very realistic for every school, but it was certainly nice to be pampered so much with new textbooks every few years and free school sweatshirts for the entire staff and student body.
When I left that school I was quite naive in assuming that all charters ran the same way, with lots of fundraising. I assumed there would be old white guys in suits trolling through the school to gawk at us teaching the little unfortunates. Very Oliver Twist. I could not have been farther from reality.
So, when my current employer hired a fundraising liaison, or whatever you call a glorified begger (haha), I was completely taken aback when we teachers were approached to make donations. According to her, our “business” would be at a severe disadvantage without 100% teacher participation. To me it seemed shaky at best. Not once had my previous employer even mentioned employee participation in fundraising. What was this lady talking about?!
I could see the uncertainty and wariness in my coworkers’ eyes as they listened to this newcomer. Not a single one was overly impressed or eager to cough up our hard-earned dollars, least of all me. When speaking about it later with my husband, he was adamant that, should I feel harassed for not participating, I should take action.
While it never came to that, I did feel hounded, and I find that very unprofessional and hurtful from an employer who I have already given so much. As I thought more about the idea of giving and what would make me actually donate, we were “generously” given the opportunity to have a monthly jeans day if our building had 100% participation. I know of other schools that allow teachers to wear jeans if they donate a certain amount. It sounded like a plan to me! I donated anonymously (from my paycheck, haha).
So where is this story going, exactly?
Today, after our building has been stuck at 93% participation for the past week, a fellow coworker bravely approached me to inquire about my participation. Apparently, unbeknownst to me, 93% correlates to just two staff members who have chosen not to participate. She wondered if I was one of the two based on conversations we had had earlier in the month.
Nope. Not me. I do, however, wholeheartedly admire the two that are standing their ground. Am I upset that they are the reason we aren’t able to wear jeans once a month? Not at all.
As I sat and thought about the whole situation this afternoon, I was left with a sour taste in my mouth. Was the purpose of this whole “giving” idea meant to turn us against one another as we conducted a witch hunt to find the two who are holding out? Probably not. But it is interesting that it’s landed here. Salem, part II.
Women have a tendency to be witch hunters. They want to sniff out the ones who aren’t conforming and then ostracize or act catty toward the nonconformists. Will they do this to the nonconformist’s face? Nope. Which is why I appreciate the coworker who outright asked me if I had donated. She’d heard rumors and wanted to come to me directly, like an adult, before the mob began their hunt.
This brings me to the moral of my long-winded post: if you want to know something, ask. Don’t start hunting witches until you know there are actually witches to hunt. Otherwise you’re just as bad as the ignorant, intolerant, judgmental assholes from the original witch hunt.
Oh, and all in all I really appreciate my former employer for not including us teachers in just another “thing” that takes us away from our actual job… Teaching.