Elementary School Allows Parents to 'Bid' on Kids' Teachers for Next Year & it's Sparking Backlash

Sign in front of Markham Elementary School announces an upcoming Family Science Night.
KGW/YouTube

When your kid's in elementary school, weekly fund-raisers are basically par for the course. There are cookie drives and candy bar sales, car washes and read-a-thons. And some schools even up the ante with themed event nights -- such as Markham Elementary School in Portland, Oregon, which reportedly threw an auction night recently to raise some cash to fill a funding gap.

The only problem? Things went a little off the rails, and it's led to "some hurt feelings" among teachers.

  • The auction night, which the school's PTA planned, apparently encouraged parents to bid on their child's teacher for the following year.

    That's right -- parents were told they could fork over some cold hard cash to ensure that little Aiden gets Mrs. McGillicuddy next year. And they did.

    Yikes. 

    Can you imagine a row of teachers standing on the auction block, waiting to be bid on? Or worse, feeling super terrible when they weren't bid on? It's like Mean Girls 2.0.

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  • All told, six parents paid a total of $1,300 to lock in their child's next teacher. But it wasn't long before the backlash began.

    “This is obviously a horrible lapse in judgment and just outrageous to everyone,” Portland Association of Teachers President Suzanne Cohen told NBC affiliate KGW8.

    And in case you're wondering who in their right mind would approve such a thing, school principal Shawn Garnett apparently signed off on the decision after the PTA came up with the "spur of the moment idea."

    But shortly after the auction wrapped, teachers came forward to raise concerns over whether it was really fair.

    “It's not an equitable thing for all families to get to choose their teacher this way because they can't all pay the money,” Cohen told KGW8.

    Uh, yeah -- it's also just kind of screwed up to encourage parents to play favorites, right?

  • In an email sent to PTA members after the auction, Garnett admitted that, "It has caused some hurt feelings."


    You think?

    “It was really offensive to the educators there," Cohen said. "It felt very hurtful, it really undermined them, it put teachers up on an auctioning block ... that’s disgusting.”

    The PTA has since apologized for any upset the auction night caused, and the funds collected were all returned to the bidders. Oh yeah, and they no longer get to choose their kid's teachers, either. (How no one saw this coming is a mystery.)

    Portland Public Schools spokesman Harry Esteve subsequently issued a statement denouncing the whole debacle, saying: "This shouldn’t have happened. It understandably upset staff at Markham, and it doesn’t in any way align with what we know is the appropriate way to determine classes and teachers."

  • As for the teachers and administrators at Markham? They're trying to put the whole thing behind them.

    KGW8 reportedly spoke with one teacher who declined to be named but would only say that "no school is perfect, everyone makes mistakes, and they are all just trying to move on from this."

    Fair enough. Hopefully next time they'll just throw a good old-fashioned car wash or something. And if they really want to get creative, maybe they can take a page from the playbook of that Girl Scout who turned all her Samoa cookies into Jason Mamoas. Now THAT'S a fundraising idea we can all get behind!