Teacher's Choice is dead, my friends. And I am here not to praise TC, but to bury it.
It was a tragically flawed program from the get-go. Even at its highest point, when classroom teachers were given $260 a year to spend, it was woefully inadequate. Think about it. A high school or middle school teacher with 150 students received less than two dollars per student, and that was when the program was at its highest.
Since then, it has been whittled down to a paltry $110, or less than a buck a kid per year for many teachers. With that money, teachers were told to do miracles. It was supposed to buy enough chart paper to last a year (at about $20 for a pad of 40 sheets, that was an impossibility). Need copies? Admins would tell you to go to Staples for them, or to buy ink and paper for your own printer, and charge it up to TC. Most of us were required to purchase "portfolios" (i.e., legal size file folders) for our classes, at about $25 a box. By the time we were done spending that $110, it often came closer to $1000, at least for me.
You can bet that employees at Bloomberg, Inc. are swimming in paper clips and sticky notes. His Mayorship wouldn't dream of making his other employees buy their own supplies. He treats them like professionals. Teachers? Well, who the hell cares about teachers? If we love kids so much, we'll skip that vacation we planned in order to buy our poverty-stricken students those oh-so-important composition books.
In this current budget, which gives $900 million to computer contractors, not a cent could be spared for supplies for teachers, so the program was cut. That should have been the end of it. But Mulgrew decided to make the following statement: “Our members always dig into their own pockets for the supplies their students need; next year, while the city carries over a multi-billion dollar surplus and millionaires get a tax break, teachers will have to dig even deeper.”
Come again? We have to dig into our own pockets? Why? Why isn't Mulgrew screaming from the mountaintops that if Bloomberg wants results, he has to at least supply us with #2 pencils for all the additional testing our kids will be doing.
In fact, Mulgrew should be out there telling teachers not to spend a dime--not one thin dime--of our own money on school supplies. At a time when Mayor4Life has denied us the 4% raise that he gave other unions, and has chosen instead to freeze our salaries for the last two years without a single sit down at the negotiating table...at a time when he threatened to lay off 4100 of us and settled for 2600 jobs that will not be coming back...at a time when he has tried to hack away at seniority, tenure, pension, and health care benefits...at a time when CityTime has stolen 600 million dollars from this city and the mayor applauded the job they did...now Mulgrew sets up the expectation that teachers should spend more on supplies out of our own pockets? Is he out of his mind?
Teacher's Choice is dead, and good riddance to bad rubbish, say I. But if we, as a union, step up and spend our own money because the "education mayor" is too cheap to give us the basics we need to get the job done, we will be expected to do this every year.
Instead, we need to say no. No more money from our pockets while Bloomberg spends 900 million on "contractors" or pays millions of our tax dollars to Rupert Murdoch and Joel Klein in no bid contracts. Nuh uh. No way. I'll live without chalk and chart paper. But I can't live with the idea that the billionaires are feasting on our tax dollars while we have to go begging for rubber bands.