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Walk Up And Donate Yourself

by Jose Vilson on December 5, 2010

in Jose

Local Hero

Out of the hundreds of e-mails I get every day, I always catch one that I thought had a shred of authenticity, but ends up just annoying the hell out of me. This time, I came across an e-mail from Borders, an e-mail I asked to receive, but didn’t think I’d get. In this particular e-mail, I saw an advertisement for Waiting for Superman, and it read:

Support Out Schools!
Shop at Borders, get up to $30 to donate to a classroom.

Dec. 4-5 in-store, make any purchase at Borders and get a $15 DonorsChoose.org gift card to make a donation to a classroom on DonorsChoose.org.

Plus, buy the book Waiting for “Superman” and get an additional $15 to donate! While supplies last.

On the surface, this seems rather innocuous, until we get to the piece about Waiting for “Superman.” Anyone who’s read this blog for a while knows how I feel, but in case you haven’t, let me be clear: I don’t like the message behind it nor the philosophy of the people behind the film. Thus, I find the gift certificate for a donation we’re supposedly getting disingenuous. Like any ad should be.

The root of my annoyance stems from the fact that a) we have to spend in order to donate and b) we have to buy Waiting for “Superman” in order to get the full $30. Anyone with any understanding of how much teachers pay for a nice classroom in time and monies knows that the monies we’re giving towards this Borders purchase would be more effective if we just went up to a neighborhood school and gave it straight to the school, or even to the website DonorsChoose directly.

Plus, if you buy the book Waiting for “Superman,” you’re essentially giving monies to people who don’t need the money to take your money and use it for their tax returns. This is the type of absurd capitalistic insidiousness that got us a non-educator as a chancellor, or the reason why people don’t think teachers who have an opinion shouldn’t share their opinions on anything but education. If that.

If your name is not Davis Guggenheim, do yourself a favor. When you have a cause you’d like to donate to, focus on it, put your attentions on it, and give directly to them. Go to the school and see if they’re delivering. Don’t fold your donation into a paper airplane and hope it glides onto the principal’s desk.

And please, whatever you do, don’t drive by the school, feel pity on it, drive your kids to the pretty school a few miles away, and make a movie about how bad public school is. That’s already been done.

Jose, who has some other ideas for books you can pick up instead, because I just got my copy …

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