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Letter: Students shouldn’t be penalized for being less fortunate than their peers

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Posted: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 12:00 am

I want to bring attention to what I believe to be harmful practices by the Larson Elementary PTA. My neighbor stopped by and requested that I support her in a jog-a-thon for school. The event is sponsored by the PTA.

As I read the paperwork, I noted a statement at the bottom of the page that I found very disturbing. Only children who are able to raise $75 or more will be allowed to participate in a fun event after the jog-a-thon — a water balloon toss. Perhaps in the world of the organizers, $75 doesn’t sound like much, but for many it’s an onerous burden.

My little neighbor girl’s family is not in a position to contribute, and although she did approach all her neighbors (limited as we are in the country), she was unable to come up with the sum she needed — not for lack of effort on her part.

For the children of less fortunate family circumstances who are already marginalized in society, we’re adding another slight. The message here is if you don’t have money, you don’t count and will not be able to join your more affluent classmates in a little fun event.

I fully understand the motives of the PTA aren’t to punish these students. In fact, one of the reasons for these types of fundraisers is to fund “scholarships” for students for activities like Science Camp that they might not otherwise be able to afford. However, I feel it’s shortsighted to stigmatize them on the one hand while trying to help them on the other.

I spoke to the principal of Larson School, and while he was responsive to my concerns and offered to bring it up with the organizers, he said it wasn’t within his jurisdiction to change the policy as it’s a PTA function. He promised to contact the PTA president on my behalf and provide her with my contact information so we could talk directly.

Unfortunately, I have received no contact from any PTA representative, and so have decided to go public with my concerns in the hope of drawing attention to the issue and hopefully finding a solution that does not penalize less-fortunate students.

Let’s make this a community where all children are treated as equally valuable.

Louise Castelanelli

Lodi

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