Friday, August 6, 2010

The Incredible Shrinking Teacher's Choice

I've heard from a few teachers who've argued that the $110 dollars we are getting from Teacher's Choice is better than nothing. I'd just like to say--no it isn't. It's far worse than nothing. Let me explain.

TC has been a political tool used against teachers for 25 years. Its threatened elimination has been used against us as a bargaining tool in contract negotiations. The existence of this program gives the city an out when it comes to purchasing adequate supplies for teachers and students alike.

Even at its highest level of $260, TC was wholly inadequate for supplying a classroom. Now, at $110, it is an insult. For most teachers, it works out to less than a dollar per student. Yet that paltry sum is supposed to supply all our needs for an entire school year.

Due to budget cuts over the last several years, schools have dramatically cut supply purchases. Many schools have little or no copy paper. Getting something approved for photocopying takes longer than handwriting all the worksheets yourself because schools want to discourage use of the copier. Most teachers I know buy a case or two of paper every year, not to mention printer ink. Add on to that all the supplies we often buy for students who do not have the means to buy all the composition books and folders we require, and even $260 is shot before Columbus Day, let alone a measly $110.

Administrators sometimes issue mandates that teachers have to pay for. For instance, we have to keep folders of student work for each child. A quick check of Staples reveals these folders cost $14 per 100. Then, of course, you have to keep conference binders the size of Pittsburgh for each class. Chart paper is $25 per pad. That border paper for your bulletin board may grow on trees but your local teacher store charges for it nonetheless. Books that you need for read-alouds? Your dime.

So what's the solution? I say we take a page out of Sarah Palin's playbook and say "Thanks, but no thanks" to Teacher's Choice. (Sorry to mention Sarah again, but I love how it brings out the crazies.) Mulgrew should take a stand and tell Bloomberg to shove his $110 insult and demand that the city's public schools be adequately supplied. Most citizens have no idea that teachers get less supply money than the cost of the average pair of sneakers worn by students.

As for me, I have vowed not to spend more than the $110 under any circumstances. That means frayed border paper, recycled folders, and going all old-school by writing notes on the chalkboard rather than chart paper. That way, when I have to buy composition books and pens for those students who can't afford them, I can still say yes. That's a hell of a lot more important than making my bulletin boards look nice.


Pissedoffteacher said...

You ingrate--you forgot about the tax deduction you can take for all of this.

Chaz said...

Mr. Talk:

You hit it on the head. Most, if not all teachers would give up "Teacher's Choice" for adequate school supplies and less paperwork.

Anonymous said...

The email from Mulgrew listed things that the school had to buy and supply for you. And, we can’t buy chalk now. It said to tell your union rep if they won’t supply it.

They must supply the folders and books. Call the union if they don’t. Don’t spend your money.

BronxEnglish said...

Mr. Talk:
As usual, you are RIGHT, RIGHT, RIGHT. I'm a complete bobblehead when I read your posts.
I don't have kids, so I'm one of the ones who spends not just hundreds, but a couple of thousand a year out of my pocket. Because of the sorry state of books and the school's inability to order interesting books, I have to copy many materials myself. . . so I go through nine or ten boxes of paper per year (that's conservative) as well as about $500 in ink cartridges. And what about the kid who can't afford to get to a college interview? The kid who walks around in high waters and torn shirts? The kid who goes on a class trip and not only can't buy lunch, but doesn't have a bag lunch either? My dime. I don't see Mr. Moneyberg and Kleincash dipping into their pockets for THAT. Ohhh but I forgot--our kids don't need college. . . they can all have a career as Lady Gaga!!