Other Voices: Candle sale teaches kids wrong lesson | TheUnion.com

Other Voices: Candle sale teaches kids wrong lesson

I would like to know exactly what kind of life messages we are giving our children in the California school system.

I bought a candle the other day from a student at Union Hill School. She said it was to defray costs for the trip they are taking. I think this is an admirable thing for a student to do. Now, to quote Paul Harvey, you are going to hear “the rest of the story.”

The money she earns does defray the cost, but not just for her, but for every child, whether or not they sell candles. If she earns enough to cover her expenses, it doesn’t matter, some of her earnings go to those who never worked at all. Also, if a student can’t afford to pay anything, the cost of the trip for that student is paid for out of this fund, regardless of whether they sold anything.

All of you working people, what message is this sending to the children? If I can’t afford to do something, or don’t wish to work for it, it’s OK, someone else will foot the bill for me. This is a very bad idea to instill in such young minds. If you look around, it is already a prevalent idea in adult minds.

School should teach life as well as subjects. In this case, if one child sells enough to cover his or her expenses he or she should go on the trip with no additional payment. If they sell more, let them know that they are helping someone who really needs the help and thank them. If another child only covers half their cost will sales, their parents need to cover the balance. Lastly, if a child cannot afford the trip at all, that child should make every effort to sell enough to cover all of their expenses. If they are not met, tell him or her that other children will be willing to share the extra money they earned to help him or her go on the trip. If there is still a shortage, perhaps the parents of the child could contribute a small amount.

This scenario teaches children that if you work hard you can achieve a goal. If you have excess, you can share it with those who have less. Lastly, if you need help, it is not going to be given to you without effort on your part.

When I spoke with a couple of teachers regarding this situation, I was met with the “no student left behind” quote. That is great as far as education goes but extracurricular activities should be a time when students work for a reward.

I was told that the sales were set up this way because they didn’t want it to be a competition, but life is a competition and it is best children learn that now.

I am sending a copy of this letter to Mr. Frederickson, the principal at Union Hill School and I hope to receive a response soon.


Linda J. Hefti lives in Auburn.

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