I am a sucker for Box Tops. I like to think of myself as a careful shopper. I make a list, clip my coupons, check the circulars to see what is on sale. But then I get to the grocery store and I see them. Those bright pink and yellow little rectangles that call to me with their siren song, “Buy me; save your schools!”
“You’re not on my list,” I whisper back, hoping none of the other shoppers will hear me.
“We helped pay for those special art supplies last year!” the Box Tops logo sings.
“I don’t have a coupon for you!” I hiss back and scurry to the cereal aisle, only to find the Box Tops everywhere. Bright, cheery Box Tops jump out from the box of granola bars. The cereals boast that I will receive 2 Box Tops if I choose their brand. The fruit gummies, and roll-ups and strips offer me Box Tops so I will forget that even their vitamin C content doesn’t make them any healthier for my kids than a candy bar would be. The Box Tops are everywhere.
While I’m sure the marketers of the brands that offer Box Tops will be happy to know that their tactics have worked; I’m not so sure I’m happy about it. I have little doubt that over the years, I have spent more money than I should just to get those Box Tops. Worse is that I have probably compromised my children’s nutrition by buying processed foods that I would have made from scratch. But regular flour, produce and dairy products don’t come with double Box Tops. (And, who am I kidding…from scratch…Ha…that stopped years ago!)
Of course, I am thrilled to give the Box Tops to my children’s schools. But is this really the way we should be funding education? Shouldn’t there be a more reliable way of making sure our schools have the tools they need?
What would happen if the brands that offer Box Tops decided to stop doing it? How many schools would have to skip the library books, smart boards, field trips, or other items they may have purchased with monies from the Box Tops program?
Maybe, we should just have these companies fund education directly. They probably would be able to put more money into the schools. It would be great for these companies! They would have a direct selling channel for all their products for guaranteed sales. Parents would be encouraged to buy their products to keep funding up for education. The share holders would demand excellent schools to keep profits up. We would no longer have to worry about fiscal cliffs, state aid, or unfunded mandates. Then again, we might have to worry that under-performing schools would be cut or students who are pulling down the scores would be fired.
I wish I had the answers on how to improve the funding of education. Until we find a better system, I guess I will keep buying those Box Tops and shopping my way to a better education for my kids.