CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A local dad says the fundraiser at his son's elementary school is turning his 6-year-old into a salesman instead of a student and he's not happy about it.
Highland Creek Elementary School started its "Invest in Me" fundraiser last week. The school held a pep rally during school hours to get kids excited to participate and raise money to help pay for things like school supplies and new technology.
It's the third year the school has done this type of fundraiser, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
Jerry Palmroos said he found out about the fundraiser after his son came up to him and kept talking about winning an iPod Touch.
Palmroos then got an email from his son's teacher saying each student's fair share is $30, so look for ways to scrounge up cash, including selling old toys on the internet or having yard sales. The email also said any student who brings in money would get a reward, but the kids who come up with the $30 or more would get lunch with the teacher.
Palmroos doesn't have a problem with schools raising money, but says having an in-school pep rally and in-class contests and rewards isn't right.
"That's clearly taking away time from the classroom," Palmroos said.
"Is this Glengarry Glen Ross with 6-year-olds being targeted for certain amounts of money," he said, referring to the play by David Mamet about how salesmen become desperate when threatened with losing their jobs.
"They do ask for a lot of money," said parent Kathey DeBree, who has a child in kindergarten at Highland Creek Elementary.
She has similar concerns about time in school being used to promote fundraisers, but says raising money this way is better than how some schools do it.
"It's in lieu of selling wrapping paper and selling popcorn, trying to make it easier for parents to give $25, $30, $50 instead of having the child walk around door to door."
Palmroos shared emails from other neighbors who say the fundraiser pushes kids to focus on tacky prizes they can win for begging their neighbors, how a daughter's entire focus over the weekend was squeezing money from her parents and how the fundraiser has become too much stress on little kids to come up with money when they should be rewarded for doing well in school, not how much money they contribute.
CMS says students can opt out of any fundraiser, and any child who does opt out will not be kept out of fundraising activities.
Last year's "Invest in Me" raised about $50,000, CMS officials said.