In keeping with the holiday spirit, Borders, the national book retailer, has partnered with Donors Choose, an online charity, and the publisher Perseus to offer up to $30 to schools based on purchases made at the retailer on December 4th and 5th. Sounds very philanthropic, doesn't it? But not so quick, there are a few hoops schools have to jump through. The money does not go directly to a school, it goes to DonorsChoose.org. This organization funds school projects and schools must register a project on their website to participate. OK, a seemingly easy hoop to jump through and what's not to like about Donors Choose. It is a charity whose chief executive officer and a HuffPost Greatest Person of the Day, Charles Best, made (according to IRS filing) $160,000 in 2008. and whose seven top executives grossed a total of $886,000, not bad for working in non-profit and a bit more than the average teachers salary.
The second hoop is a little higher one to jump through. It asks that a copy of Waiting for 'Superman': How We Can Save America's Failing Public Schools (Public Affairs, 2010), the companion book to the film, be purchased for a donation of an additional $15. Here, we have another corporate giant pushing to validate and promote the message of Waiting for Superman under the guise of supporting teachers.
The premise of Waiting for Superman that the charter school movement is the answer to problems of American education is one that the corporate world has embraced but other view as from another world. They ask, "What planet is this superman from?" He lauds the benefits of charter schools but never mentions two of the greatest charter schools ever, Boston Latin School or Stuyvesant High School. These public schools have a long history of academic rigor and achievement while working within the given structure.
Meanwhile, educators across the country trying to participate in this giftcard giveaway are looking for a Superman to help them navigate the Donors Choose website to have Border giftcards credited to them. This, so they can select book from the Donors Choose book supplier, Barnes & Noble.
If you want to help your local school don't count on corporate philanthropists but rather be a philanthropist and make a donation of $15 or $30 directly to you local school library.