Should Schools Make "Volunteering" Mandatory?

A few weeks ago, I took my daughter to see a play where one of her friends goes to school. There were parents galore in attendance, but many of them weren't sitting in the audience enjoying the show like us. Instead, dozens were working the concession stand, raffle basket table, ticket booth, backstage area, or sound board. I mentioned to one mom that I had never seen so many parents turn out to help for anything, and she told me why: It was required—there was no "volunteering" part.

While many of these moms and dads probably would have helped out anyway, I'd imagine that at least some were miffed that it was mandatory. It seems excessive to me, given that parents are already asked to do so much (like participating in school fundraisers or volunteering in the lunchroom or classroom) in addition to the regular day-to-day duties (checking homework, getting supplies for school projects, communicating with teachers about any concerns, and on and on).

On the other hand, I have noticed, in my daughter's school, that you tend to see the same parent volunteers all the time. Requiring every parent to help out might be a fairer way to distribute the workload and achieve more (it was a great show). Still, I'm leaning on the side of keeping volunteering exactly what it sounds like—your choice. What do you think?

Karen Cicero is Contributing Nutrition & Travel Editor at Parents and frequent "backstage mom" at her daughter's shows. Follow her on Twitter @karencicero.

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Photo of a group of kids via Shutterstock

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