Sunday, 13 November 2011

Mothering for Schooling: Beyond Bake Sales (The Marketization of Motherhood -Part Two)

The issue   I addressed in my previous post regarding the ethical  implications of how to resist corporate capitalism’s continuous encroaching on family life was further illustrated for me the other weekend when I attended  the annual People for Education conference at York University.
Although  Executive Director and Founder, Annie Kidder truly summed up this amazing conference here , I remain perplexed in my questions about how "mothers" are often  the hidden gendered labor behind the scenes of  a school's (and its students) perceived success or failure. 
Just as was detailed in this groundbreaking book, mothers' work in and on behalf of their childrens' schools has highlighted inequities of educational opportunities for all children  and been  increasingly intensified as resources are withdrawn from  public schools and our governments shift much of the work of teaching and learning  to families. I would also add fundraising to this list as an assumed duty for all mothers of school-aged children to perform.

In a panel session entitled “Public Schools and Private Money: The Fundraising Dilemma”, discussions highlighted the “desperate times call for drastic measures” notion whereby short on money for everything from math workbooks to pencils, public schools are seeking corporate sponsors, promising them marketing opportunities and access to students in exchange for desperately needed donations. Of course, we all know that many public schools are struggling financially and with the threat of closure due to decreased enrollment. We also are aware that several schools are seeking alternative solutions which include big money corporate sponsers entering the schools, using our children as salespeople, and essentially moving from bake sales to big business.

However, one cannot overlook the “bigger picture” and "make the connections" – as was emphasized at the entire People for Education conference.
Why are parents and school councils having to resort to such fundraising measures to compensate for a lack of support for public schools by our current government?
What does it mean to contribute via such fundraising mechanisms to the creation of ‘Have’ and ‘Have-not’ schools?

In her presentation based on a recent report by Social Planning Toronto, entitled"PUBLIC SYSTEM, PRIVATE MONEY: Fees, Fundraising and Equity in the Toronto District SchoolBoard" Lesley Johnston, Research and Policy Analyst,  highlighted how socio-economic, ethno-cultural and neighbourhood divides in the city are being institutionalized in a number of ways so that the principles of equity and inclusivity in our public education system are being undermined.

In this session, participants asked each other:
"Should Private Money Fund Public Schools?"
"Should public-private partnerships be formed to shore up gaps in school budgets? "
This Mother Outlaw is curious what others think about the equity and ethical concerns on this current issue.
Where are lines being drawn on equity principles and how much longer are parents (albeit mothers) expected to fill in with  their time and skills to compensate for our current government's inability to provide adequate funding and support  for all public schools?

** * Added note: I have no skills in baking however I DO have many other  skills to make  changes in how we discuss important issues that effect mothers...

Image Credits:
"Cupcakes Clone" via Toni Busch
"Blogging Hands" via Social Solutions

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