School starts next week, and here’s a tip for the student who wants to get ahead without actually studying and paying attention in class: Moolah. Dinero. Cash.
If you really want to suck up to a teacher, forget putting an apple on her desk. Teachers are, as are we all and as Madonna sang so eloquently 30 years ago, living in a material world, and thus shiny red apples just don’t cut it anymore – especially not with marrow-deep budget cuts.
It wasn’t exactly disillusioning, but it was a jarring experience that time I saw my saintly, sexy second-grade teacher grocery shopping at the A&P.
Teachers eat? I remember thinking. The hands that show us how to cut out construction paper squirrels actually touch filthy lucre?
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Yes, they do, and too often when they touch it they’re pulling it out to spend on classroom supplies, on other people’s children and not on their own or on themselves.
A $17.5 million budget deficit means that Wake County schools will be dirtier – custodians will clean some classrooms only twice a week – and it also means that teachers will have to dig even deeper into their own pockets to buy school supplies and materials for their classrooms. Thus, it seems, a neatly folded picture of President Grant – he’s on the $50 bill, for those of you who, like me, don’t see many of those bad boys – would go a long way toward alleviating the financial stress on teachers, keeping classrooms well-stocked and possibly ensuring that Little Billy gets that extra point that would turn a barely failing grade into a gentleman’s C.
Better than cash
Adrienne Dayton of the Silver Spring, Md.-based Education Market Association laughed and said “No, no” when I asked if civic-minded parents sliding a fifty to a teacher for “supplies” or anything else was a good idea. “I don’t think they’re allowed to do that,” Dayton said.
Far better, said Dayton, vice president for marketing for the EMA, are GoFundMe pages, parent-teacher stores and internet sites to which you can contribute money and supplies. The EMA was known as the National School Supplies and Equipment Association when it released a study in 2013 about the amount of their own money teachers spend in classrooms.
On average, teachers surveyed in that study said they spent a total of $268 on school supplies, $491 on instructional materials and an additional $186 on other classroom supplies for an average total of $945 on supplies and materials. Dayton said teachers have always spent their own money for classroom materials, but that the amount they spend has been increasing in recent years.
Material world, indeed.
Dayton also mentioned www.donorschoose.org, an online charity site with which I’d been unfamiliar merely 24 hours earlier. That’s when Bethenny Hagan of Raleigh called to tell me that she’d donated money to the site and to suggest that you do, too. Donorschoose.org, founded in the Bronx in 2000, allows civic-minded people to pick out a school, even a classroom, and donate however much money they want to ensure that teachers aren’t hurting themselves and that students aren’t deprived of what they need.
Christopher Pearsall, a Raleigh native who is a spokesman for Donorschoose.org, said teachers can solicit help by listing the items they’re most in need of or describing the classroom project they’re working on. You can click and donate.
Just as a gentleman never asks a woman her age, neither does one ask how much money she donated to ensure that teachers don’t have to use their own moolah to buy erasers, pencils, toilet paper and abacuses. (They do still use abacuses in school, don’t they?)
I didn’t ask Hagan how much she contributed or even which school she contributed it to. But you can be sure it will be appreciated by whichever teacher doesn’t have to spend her own money this year for Charmin.