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August 11, 2016


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Sing it. My thought has been the same -- if we keep going and buying All The Stuff, we're giving the administrators a free pass to continue to get away with not providing the necessary "stuff" for instruction.

Don't get me started on the "tech" either. At J's last school, they were obsessed with what they kept referring to as "the tech piece" and then in the next breath telling us that the history books were out of date and they were going to have to fundraise. ARE YOU KIDDING ME.

This touches several of my inter-related nerves.

My mother was a teacher and every year she would lament and complain about how much money she had to spend out of her own pocket. My less-than-charitable response was "Just don't do that. If they run out of supplies, I guess they run out."

My husband was a teacher and felt tempted to buy supplies every single year and would have except for mean wife at home who said, "No. The End. This is our money and we don't have enough of it as it is. If they need supplies, the school should supply it."

My children spent several years in public school before we homeschooled last year. I am not going to say we spent less money homeschooling, but there wasn't an appreciable difference. I somehow spent about the same amount of money for supplies and curriculum at home as I did sending them to the "free" public school. And last year, I never once saw a fundraising packet, which is worth a lot.

So, I'm a newish public school librarian. And do you know what happens when the school grows but the building allocation does not and the new standards-based report cards run to five pages of standards and the school has to spend all its money on paper and a copying penalty to our supplier? The school uses the library budget to cover those costs and we can't buy replacement copies of the Harry Potter books that kids borrowed and never returned when their parents got evicted and they moved.

This is not a hypothetical, as I'm hoping the somewhat terse typing I'm doing makes clear.

Also, librarians don't send home supply lists. And in my school, I teach all the kids in the building (all 650) between M and Th and another 1/4 of them again each Friday. And I have them for 40 minutes. And I can insist they use the pencils that have no erasers and refuse to let them sharpen the damn things more than once a day (in my experience, a relentless desire for super-sharp pencils takes many more of them down than tossing) but by March, I'm sending kids to the bathroom to use TP to blow their noses because I've blown through four boxes of tissue in TWO WEEKS and I'm down to my last allocated 100 pencils because the kids wander off with them and I can't justify spending 1/8th of my instructional time (5 minutes out of 40) being the supplies attendant.

And it WOULD be nice if these annual essays said things like "vote for that bond" and "ask yourself which political groups in your area are in favor of a living wage so that hunger isn't one of the major issues facing us all each Monday morning, never mind the crayons" but we've already implicitly decided as a country that we DO NOT have a collective responsibility to each other's kids. (It's my theory that this implied but increasingly virulent abandonment of the collective future explains all those people who keep calling the cops on your kids, btw and fwiw. Speak to someone else's child? Act as if we, the village of adults, can help shepherd children with confidence into the public sphere? You must be joking.) And I'm cynical and unhappy about how my country looks from outside its borders so I'm going to take off the gloves and snidely point out that one fairly prominent person right now is reminding people in a lot of different ways that 50% of our incoming school children have the wrong skin color and not only should we not buy them Kleenex and tissues, not only should we not raise their parents' wages to a minimum level of survival or make sure they have health care and food each month, but we should build a wall and kick them out.

So. Yes. I would love to see everyone recommit to public schools and for everyone to agree that funding needs to be wisely but generously allocated. That's not happening where I live. The bonds keep getting voted down and the people who want to destroy public schooling keep getting elected. And the end result is, either I buy more tissues or I have a classroom full of kindergarteners wiping snot on the rug. "Just let it run out" is not such a good workaround for me.

That was supposed to be Kleenex and crayons. I'm extremely jet lagged. Which might also explain the crankiness. But not really.

Brava Jody!

And Jamie.

You're both QUITE right.

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