The Honking Goose

something to honk about

box tops for education – I’m not buying it

My two boys go to the same elementary school. They are in 2nd and 4th grade. For the month of October, the school is doing a special drive to collect ‘box tops for education’ coupons that are on certain food packages. I guess it is a special drive in that the classroom that collects the most will receive a lemonade party. Which doesn’t seem that special to me. Basically that means that every other classroom and child and parent that makes the effort to collect box tops for the school gets the disappointment of knowing their contribution is less-than. Is that supposed to be motivating?

box tops for education coupon

I have already been collecting these box tops anyway and after a couple months of saving them I have a grand total of 18. The only food that we buy often that has them is Cheerios. So last week I went to the store specifically looking for foods that have these box tops so I can help my kids participate in this school drive. I didn’t find very much that I actually wanted to buy. The 18 coupons that we have now, plus any more we clip for the rest of the month will be split between my two kids. Right now, that is 9 each. At a value of 10 cents each for the school that is 90 cents (per kid). Woohoo!

Let’s say, for example, that a family saves a whole bunch of these box tops for an entire school year and at the end of the school year they have 200 and they give them all to the school. That is worth $20 to the school. Is that not a lot of energy expended to give 20 bucks to the school? I mean, if I wanted to, over the course of a school year, I could scrape together $20 straight cash to give to the school and we are in the low income category for families. Low enough that our kids qualify for free school lunches. And I could give $20 to the school. Heck, I already gave $10 cash to my son’s 2nd grade teacher to help her out with materials that she bought out of her own pocket for the classroom at the beginning of the year.

It just really rubs me the wrong way that we’re all gonna go out of our way to collect these tokens worth hardly anything. All the kids are going to get excited about the possibility of their classroom winning a lemonade party. And then one class will get the party and what does everyone else get as a reward for their effort? Nothing!

If I am looking at this the wrong way, or I am not seeing the silver lining here, please tell me. I would love to be able to appreciate this, because I am really not feelin’ it right now. And if you agree with me, you can say that, too. Honk at me!

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42 comments on “box tops for education – I’m not buying it

  1. Linda Dee
    August 13, 2015

    I was just asked by a friend to clip box tops. I declined, somewhat vehemently. Don’t parents have enough to do??? This is stupid. Just send the school an extra $20/year and be done with it, or buy the school a few items for the art class, music class, gym class. Cheaper, easier, more direct. You also don’t have to eat a bunch of worthless cereal! Clipping box tops! Though it went out in the 60s. Gads.

    Like

  2. Terri Webster Schrandt
    October 16, 2014

    The idea teaches the value of saving for something and/or earning something special, definitely a value that is losing it’s way in our instant-gratification society. It does seem like a very small reward though! Back in 1974, our junior high won a free concert at our by the Grass Roots, by saving gum wrappers (or writing) carefree sugarless gum on 3×5 cards. Good luck, I think if the kids are excited then it must be worth something.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 16, 2014

      I don’t see the point of pitting the classrooms against each other. I’d prefer if there was no winner and no reward. Then we could all make an effort to save box tops for the real incentive which is money for the school.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. john3corrigan
    October 16, 2014

    You know I am with you on this. Want to support the school just support them and I would send that same message to the company with the box top program. Just give x percent of profits to x schools and be done with it every year.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 16, 2014

      Yeah, that would keep it simple. I’ve got a lot going on and this is just one of about five different events/programs happening at the school this month.

      Like

  4. cllgarrison
    October 16, 2014

    Maybe you can ask your kids’ teachers if you can bring in enough lemonade for their classes? A container of Country Time Lemonade is like $3 and water is free! Seems like way less effort than saving those box tops, which I don’t even notice.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 16, 2014

      I don’t really think my kids will care that much about the lemonade itself. They can have treats at home. Its the idea of having winners and losers that irks me. Especially if we all try our best. Maybe I’ll just write a letter to the school.

      Like

  5. The Daily Blabber
    October 16, 2014

    My sister is an avid boxtops clipper. I have honestly never done it. We really don’t buy anything that has boxtops and the few things that we do buy I usually toss the boxtops without a second thought.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 16, 2014

      I thought if I really looked at the grocery store, I would find lots of box tops on things that I don’t normally buy, but there really wasn’t even that many….

      Liked by 1 person

  6. szbenton
    October 15, 2014

    The box tops do make a difference. While it is small every little bit helps. You’re not required to bring them in. It’s more like the others have said ‘gee, if you happen to have these would you give them to us.’ Teachers spend from their own salaries on classroom supplies for their children – most schools don’t have enough resources. Well, let me say most caring and excellent teachers feel moved to spend their paycheck on the children in their classrooms – and never complain to the parents about it.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 15, 2014

      As I pointed out above, I am already saving the box tops for the school. The part I disagree with is making it a competition among the classrooms with winners and losers. And I don’t think a teacher should have to pay out of their own pocket for classroom supplies which is why I gave my son’s teacher cash at the beginning of the school year to help with supplies she had already purchased.

      Like

  7. thesumidaway
    October 15, 2014

    i know what you mean. why go to all that effort for $20 worth of coupons. why not just take the $20 and buy lemonade and cookies and have your own class party? or donate the $20 to donorschoose.org to help the teacher buy more needed items for your kids? teachers spend a lot of their own money and here in Los Angeles, they haven’t had a raise in a LONG time.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 15, 2014

      I just really think that all the classrooms (or none) should get a lemonade party for bringing in box tops. Why should there be winners and losers if everyone makes an effort?

      Like

  8. Kate @ Did That Just Happen?
    October 15, 2014

    I totally saved them and turned them in – but never went out of my way (okay, seldom went out of my way) to get a food that had them! As long as I was buying them, it was fine… but honestly, I’d just as soon fork over $20!

    Like

  9. swo8
    October 15, 2014

    There’s always someone with skin in the game.
    Leslie

    Like

  10. Very Bangled
    October 15, 2014

    I always wondered how these things work. That is pretty chinzy of Post cereal or whoever it is the reimburses the tops.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 15, 2014

      Yeah, I agree. Especially if parents are buying more of those products because of the box tops.

      Like

  11. Yoshiko
    October 15, 2014

    It doesn’t need to be competitive.

    Like

  12. grannyK
    October 15, 2014

    I was active in PTA and for several years it was my job to collect these from each classroom, clip them, sort them and count them. Each month the class that had the most just got an announcement stating they had the most. No prize or party. At the end of the year, I decided what to order with them. It took a lot of my time, but I was only working part time then and I didn’t mind doing it. It was never something we pushed, either. I usually just got new balls for the PE class, or something general like that. Not much in return for all of the hours collecting and counting, but I didn’t mind the work so I guess no harm no foul! hehe

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 15, 2014

      I really love my kids’ school, but this isn’t the only thing that they are making into an unnecessary competition. And it is stuff like this that makes me not want to join the PTA because I feel like I’m just not going to see eye to eye with people.

      Like

  13. Anita Jayne
    October 15, 2014

    We had something similar, it was called ‘Pauls’ Collect-a-caps; Pauls is a brand of milk here in Australia (for those that don’t know), so you buy the milk, then take the cap in. I think it was a good idea to have it on something that got bought often!

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 15, 2014

      How much was each cap worth?

      Like

      • Anita Jayne
        October 15, 2014

        I don’t recall exactly, probably it was around 10c though, like in your situation. But we didn’t have a ‘whichever grade brings the most in, you got a prize’ thing. In the end, I vaguely recall that the money went to more sports equipment for everyone to use.

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        • thehonkinggoose
          October 15, 2014

          Yeah, I totally don’t mind collecting them if I’m buying the product anyway. I just don’t see why it needs to be competitive.

          Like

          • Anita Jayne
            October 15, 2014

            It’s just because they want to entice the kids to nag their parents to buy more things so they can get more coupons. Which, in itself is unfair, since some families have greater buying potential than others. Though, while it is an unfair system, I don’t really think most kids will be upset if they don’t get the party either.
            Also, does the school not do anything after that? Like, you say that the rest of the kids don’t get anything, but will the school buy things with the coupons, e.g. sports equipment like mine did?

            Like

            • thehonkinggoose
              October 15, 2014

              Oh yeah, the school will make good use of the $ I’m sure.

              Like

  14. Bowrag
    October 15, 2014

    Every kid donates 20 bucks worth x total kid population approx 800 in elementary school. 16,000. Not to shabby.

    Like

  15. Carl D'Agostino
    October 15, 2014

    Teacher 33 years. Whatever the items to collect the donation by the business is insultingly low and their profits increase because people are buying the stuff. The one positive is that kids with help from parents engaged as a group or community to accomplish something positive and therein lies a lesson in cooperation and partnership and develops a sense of “we” instead of “me”.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 15, 2014

      You are right, there is a positive to be gained within. But then, isn’t making it into a competition with one winner taking it back to “me” instead of “we”? That’s what I don’t like.

      Like

      • Carl D'Agostino
        October 17, 2014

        Yes competition is used far too much in school environment but “educators” think it is productive. I taught kids to compete against their own failures not each other.

        Like

        • thehonkinggoose
          October 17, 2014

          I am glad to hear that. I wonder if my sons’ teachers would agree with that? I can’t automatically assume all the teachers are on board with the competition just because the school is promoting it.

          Like

  16. ljaylj
    October 15, 2014

    Excellent perspective! .10 cents from a box of cereal that is almost or more than $4.00 is so charitable it makes me want to… Anyway, I think you’ve got this down to where it should be–scam. My tax $ pay for the school’s everything. Your tax dollars pay for your kids’ lunches–kind of ironic, wouldn’t you say? More seriously, if you buy a product just to obtain an official coupon for education, and the price goes up on that item because of the donation from the company or even the popularity of the item, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of our own personal family welfare. I agree with your solution: you and 10 (or even 100) other parents scrape up $20 each and give it to the school, then eat what you like or what you think is best for your family.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 15, 2014

      Exactly. And I’d rather have me and all the other families that can manage it give $21 to the school and EVERY classroom gets a lemonade party. I just don’t see any reason to turn this into a competition.

      Like

      • ljaylj
        October 15, 2014

        How true–I’m with you on this one. “They” discourage competition on the playground and give all the kids a ribbon for participation in many cases. Let There Be Lemonade For All!

        Liked by 1 person

  17. emdoesthings
    October 15, 2014

    I save them too but I look at them as more of a “we happen to buy these things soooooo it cant hurt to keep them to give to the school” type of thing. I mean, it can go either way when you think about it. My son’s school does not offer an incentive to do so, so any contributions are voluntary. It’s good because we don’t feel the pressure to buy things with the box tops on them, however, a lot of parents don’t even know if they collect.

    My mother has been teaching for 13 years and she has to pay for everything for her classroom, so I know how expensive it is. Even that $20 towards books for the classroom really helps (Power in numbers, if every student only submits 10, then for an 18 student classroom, you have $18 bucks).

    I personally do it because it’s not too much of a hassle and my son goes to a public school that gives a lot back to the kids and community.

    I don’t know if that at all makes your box top scavenger hunt any better but good luck regardless!

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 15, 2014

      I certainly don’t have a problem with collecting them and giving them to the school. I was already doing that. I just don’t see the benefit of making it into a competition.

      Liked by 1 person

      • emdoesthings
        October 15, 2014

        Misunderstood your direction, but I wholeheartedly agree with you.

        Like

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This entry was posted on October 15, 2014 by in Culture, Unsolicited Advice and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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