Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Too racy for the Kern Valley Sun!

Here is an article I submitted to the Kern Valley Sun when I was still free-lance writing for them. They chose not to run it, probably because it was too long. I knew it was too long when I submitted it, but I just couldn't bear to cut any part of it!

It might also have been a little too sarcastic for them.

A Fundraising Horror Story

The State of California has worked hard to make becoming and remaining a teacher difficult. To become a teacher, you must spend four years in college for your Bachelor’s degree, and two for your credential. Then, they give you a “preliminary” credential, which means they’ll let you into the classroom, but they won’t act very happy about it.

After you enter the classroom, they take the brand new teachers who are completely swamped and send them to seminars before, during, and after school. This takes up their nonexistent free time for two years in a program which they call, “BTSA,” which, in my opinion, stands for “Beginning Teacher Suffering and Attrition.” This is to toughen you up and to weed out any teachers who haven’t decided to make their career more important than their mental health. If you make it through BTSA, you have earned your “clear” credential, which tells the world that after eight years of education, you’re finally a real teacher.

However, in all of those years of training, there is one very important topic that no class ever discusses. It is a topic that can reduce a competent, well-trained professional teacher into a sniveling pathetic invertebrate. It’s the “F” word.

That’s right, it’s fundraising. Now, in years past, drama, choir, and other programs could always make the students sell candy. All a student had to do was walk into a packed classroom or teacher’s lounge and immediately the other people in the room would think, “Mmmm…fat and sugar; I want to buy some!” In minutes, the customers would swarm the candy-bearing youngster and they would have money to either bring back to the teacher, or at the very least, to lose in their locker, forcing their parents to reimburse the teacher.

A few years ago, the State of California decided that these time-honored traditions were no good. For one thing, they actually worked. For another, too many students and parents were apparently getting fat while the extra-curricular activities were making money.
So, the state in its infinite wisdom, decided to place health restrictions on the sort of food students could sell for fundraisers. Now to be fair, the State of California didn’t completely cut out selling food on public school campuses. They allow for four food sale days per year. As the advisor for the Drama club, I decided to jump on this chance and get my kids out there to sell taquitos.

On the morning of the food sale day, I left the house around 5:45 AM. I loaded my car with two crock pots and some baking trays. I drove to Vons to buy some expensive guacamole and sour cream. I then dragged an ice chest full of frozen taquitos and toppings to the refrigerator in the teacher’s lounge and deposited them there before I began my full day of teaching on the other side of the school.

During my class period with no students, I rushed over to the home-economics classroom, which Pat Smith graciously allowed me to use, and began baking the taquitos. I still had another period to teach before lunch, and right when the lunch bell rang, I sprinted back over to the home-economics room, where I was supposed to meet my Drama Club students.

By the time we headed out to the grassy area where the food sale was, ten minutes of our thirty minute lunch had already gone by. I noticed to my surprise that FFA was already doing a brisk business, selling fully cooked hamburgers, chips and sodas to a gigantic line of students. Now, FFA has been around a long time- they know the true meaning of how to fundraise, and they had got us completely beaten. They had claimed all but one table, which looked as if it were one its last leg. They had apparently been cooking and setting up since way before lunch, while I was still wasting time teaching my 4th period class.

I began to see the smiles on my Drama students’ faces falter. “Mrs. Hughes, is that our table? It looks really unsafe,” piped up one little darling. I merely nodded and gave the student some tape to stick a sign on the wooden danger. The wind was blowing and no matter where we tried to set our napkins or tape our sign, it kept catching them and blowing them away.
Somehow, 15 minutes into our 30 minute lunch, we managed to sell a few taquitos. Things almost looked as if we might break even when one of the students started gasping in horror. I looked down at our table just in time to see the legs of it collapse as it fell to the grass and sent napkins, guacamole, and taquitos flying through the air.

One of the many skilled FFA students ran over to see if we needed help, and I watched my drama club members desperately trying to get the table back up on its legs and see if we could salvage anything. That was when the bell rang and lunch was over. I somehow had to get all the taquitos, the crock pot, the ice chest, and the toppings back to the teacher’s lounge and then arrive at my classroom on the other side of the school before the next period began. I honestly don’t remember how I did it. The rest of the day is sort of fuzzy in my mind.

FFA, you can fundraise at the next food sale day. I will bring my Drama Club, and you can sell us your delicious looking hamburgers, chips, and sodas. If you have figured out how to make a profit in a 30-minute lunch, you deserve our business.

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