Budget Cuts Are Forcing L.A. Parents To Sell Junk To Save Their Schools

junk, hello kitty, pencil, bag

Photo: Flickr / Tanya Dawn

L.A. Unified School District’s Board Of Education just approved a preliminary $6 billion budget to cut more teachers and after-school programs, reports the L.A. Times’ Stephen CeasarWe’ve reported the district is desperate: It’s tapping parents for basic classroom supplies, and to literally donate money to save teachers’ jobs. 

GOOD magazine’s Liz Dwyer, a mother of two in L.A., offers an interesting take on the downsides to losing access to a quality, free public education: 

“I console myself with the belief that my sons are gaining practical, real-world skills by learning sales tactics … My colleagues purchased dozens of those horrible-smelling pencils from him—which they will almost certainly never use—at $1 a pop. When I turned in the pencil profits at our school, I felt like a champion.

My husband doesn’t feel the same way. He’ll buy the pastries and coffee peddled by parents at the student holiday performance, but he refuses to sell products of any kind. ‘You’re being taken advantage of,’ he tells me. ‘You’re being used by politicians and school district fat cats who refuse to give schools the money they need to run.’ To say nothing of the companies that profit from the sales. ‘You’ll spend your time selling $1,000 of some company’s chocolate, and of that, you get to keep what? 10 to 20 per cent?’ he says.”

Profit margins aren’t always so slim for schools, but the emphasis isn’t on learning, where Dwyer says it should be. 

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