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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


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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Joanne Bobin posted at 8:32 am on Sat, May 17, 2014.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    I think that Mrs. Castelanelli's letter was more to bring attention to the fact that the PTA did not bother to contact her about her concerns.

    Perhaps she had a few "solutions" that she wanted to discuss with them rather than air them in her LTE. After all, she's limited to 350 words - words she used quite well to describe the overall situation.

    I hope the Larson PTA DOES contact her - at least out of courtesy - but as with all things Lodi, the elite that run the PTA will no doubt continue to give her the snub - equivalent to saying, MYOB.

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 6:50 pm on Fri, May 16, 2014.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    I would have thought Ms. Castelanelli would have offered an idea or two of her own to "hopefully finding a solution that does not penalize less-fortunate students" rather than leaving the other side of the "=" blank. Not that I would characterize her letter as a "complaint" per se, I learned early on in the Air Force from my NCOIC to never approach him with a complaint (or concern) without providing a solution of my own.

  • Christina Welch posted at 3:57 pm on Fri, May 16, 2014.

    Christina Welch Posts: 460

    Excellent observations, with both your posts.

  • Jien Kaur posted at 11:30 am on Fri, May 16, 2014.

    Jien Kaur Posts: 372

    Wow, Mr. Werner. Ms. Castelanelli isn't claiming that less fortunate kids should be entitled to anything the better off kids have. For you to equate this situation to some type of socialism you think Ms. Castelanelli is promoting is just plain silly.

    She is simply saying that the PTA shouldn't make participating in an event dependent on the amount of money you can raise or that your family can contribute.

    The privilege of participating in the water balloon event should have been dependent upon the number laps they completed or something other than being rewarded for raising a certain amount of money. After all, I'm sure most of the kids are perfectly capable of running - a great equalizer.

  • Jien Kaur posted at 11:21 am on Fri, May 16, 2014.

    Jien Kaur Posts: 372

    The Larson school PTA seems to be instilling the idea very early in their students that more money you raise, the more privileges you are allowed.

    Those 120 kids are going to make great politicians, lobbyists, and SuperPAC administrators in the future.

  • Todd Cronin posted at 6:06 pm on Wed, May 14, 2014.

    Todd Posts: 143

    I would to add to your post if I may
    a quote by one of the greatest navel
    minds the Royal British Navy ever
    produced...Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth.

    "There is no shame in being poor! Only in dressing poorly![wink]

  • Michelle Faul posted at 12:55 pm on Wed, May 14, 2014.

    Lodimomof2girls Posts: 2

    I am a parent of two Larson students. I was at the event on Friday and I believe that it was not to penalize those who did not raise the $75. Out of the almost 700 students that participated in the jog-a-thon event, there were only around 120 kids that participated in the water balloon tag event. The kids that did not raise the money didn't look like they were not having fun as it was fun to see those kids cheering on those that were participating. Growing up we always had "awards" for raising the most money at school events. This isn't anything new.

  • Ron Werner posted at 9:04 am on Wed, May 14, 2014.

    Ron Werner Posts: 101

    In school we learn lessons. Louise's neighbor may learn that since she is the child of a "less fortunate family" she is entitled to things that others have. On the other hand, she might learn that through perseverance and hard work she can overcome obstacles and achieve more than she thought she could. That is how one builds self esteem. The lesson Louise needs to learn is that just because some children are smarter, better athletes, better looking, and yes born into more affluent households than others it doesn't mean they aren't "equally valuable".


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