Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Requiem for a Bad Program

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.


Just Plain Fed Up said...


bookworm said...

I happen to have a fairly respectable stockpile of TC purchases as a result of 2yr in the ATR pool. Once it's gone next year, it's gone. Less crap for me to carry from one school to another every week, anyway. Not another dime. It costs me enough to pay for the school supplies that my own 3 kids need every year.

zulma said...

First and foremost, congrats GothamSchools decided to post your blog on their site. It's about time. It's good to read a posting that's truthful, well-written, bold, and intelligent. Kudos to you.

As for TC, every teacher went beyond the meager amount that was given. Although the amount was pittance, it did help defray the cost. I guess administration will need to go into their budget to supply the teachers with the necessary material needed to teach. I wonder how many principals are going to complain when they see teachers requesting more pencils, paper, chalk, markers, etc. It's going to be interesting come the fall when I submit my supply request form to the principal listing all my supplies using both side of the form.

Anonymous said...

I liked my teacher choice. I want it back. Even if it is for $100. I am very good at getting a lot for a little.

When an administrator stated how I should spend my teacher’s choice I told them they had no right and pulled out the rules about the spending. That shut them up quickly. Teachers are not allowed to buy paper or chalk with it! Read the rules. I also pointed out what schools are required to buy.

I will not spend a penny on school supplies. When I got a helping hand, I didn’t mind spending some of my money. I get nothing, I give nothing. When my pens dry out, they will have to buy me new ones, or I can’t grade.

Please don’t write as if you speak for all teachers. You may not care, but you don’t pay my bills.

Anonymous said...

I will not spend a dime this year. I am finished digging into my own pocket. Yes, the $260. was nice. I was able to make it go far. But it was still just a fraction of what I spent, and not just on supplies. There is also food for parties, paying for kids to go on trips when their parents don't have the money, and so on. And I can't tell you how many parents expect teachers/schools to buy their kids basic school supplies. I am finished.

Anonymous said...

AT, you really should send your awesome post to Mr. Mulgrew.

I too was completely grossed out by his comment.

My school has virtually no supplies to give teachers. Whatever we do have is kept under lock and key. If we're lucky, one of the aides will give each teacher a box of 8 pencils.

I am NOT spending a dime this year either. When we ran out of pencils in May, I made my students write with markers. When those were destroyed, they got broken crayons.

Enough is enough. I'm tired of this shit.

Miss RIm said...

Dear Mr. A Talk -
I've been a fan of you for quite some time, and I'm thinking of starting my own blog.
I teach in D75, work with alternate assessment kids, there's plenty of issues that dovetail, but I see kind of a niche for D&5 / special ed teachers out there on the "interweb"
HAve you any advice?