Thursday, June 29, 2023

 Our weekly column from the humor site PreOccupied Territory.

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Jerusalem, June 29 - A local principal made waves in the primary education field last week by leveraging the reluctance and hassle involved in wasting an entire evening on amateurish performances and hackneyed speeches to mark the conclusion of the academic term each June: in lieu of spending time at the two- to-three-hour event on a weeknight, listening to faculty and staff drone on and on and watching the children put on skits or dances that would humiliate beached whales, the institution accepted 300-shekel contributions from each family - and brought in more money than at any other fundraiser in the school's twenty-year existence.

Devorah Friedman, headmaster of Merhavim Elementary School, responded to private feedback from numerous parents by offering the pay-instead-of-attend option for both the celebratory gathering involving grades 1-5 and the more elaborate graduation ceremony for the sixth grade. Friedman reported that near-unanimous parental choice of donating instead of attending resulted in tens of thousands of shekels flowing into the school coffers, the largest total of private donations from any of the school's many efforts to raise money.

"We've had institutional and governmental assistance in larger amounts, certainly," she acknowledged. "But none of our community-based initiatives earned nearly this much. Of the approximately eight hundred families with children at our school, seven hundred sixty decided to donate. The few exceptions were all first-time parents of first-graders. Even the parents of the sixth-graders, every last one, including the two families for whom it's their last child, opted to pay instead of attending."

"We've been able to save more money, beyond that, on the costs of the productions themselves," she elaborated. "All the extracurricular preparation time, the materials, the refreshments, the costumes, et cetera - so we ended up with more than the donation amounts as well."

Parents explained that they had had enough of the end-of-year ceremonies and accompanying plays, dances, songs, and speeches already in previous years, and did not need to blow a valuable, not to mention beautiful, June evening in Jerusalem attending yet another such performance.

"All the schools should do this," gushed Daniel Zvuloni, parent of a sixth-grader and third-grader. "I don't care that it's essentially extortion: give us hundreds of shekels or we'll force you to attend these tedious events. I gave double this year, I was so grateful for the freedom. I even asked if there's a way to prepay not to attend anything for the next three years, and I'm going to suggest the same policy to my older kids' schools."

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