In our district, the teachers report back on August 24th, the students on the 29th of August. Our principal emailed at the first of August when the office got back, that they didn’t want us back until tomorrow, so we wouldn’t get in the way of the custodial “deep cleaning”. Apparently there is some funding to pay us hourly money if we want to come in a few days early and work on Common Core State Standards. We are going to do that as a grade level (conditional on everybody getting a time that we can do it). The beginning of the year is always stressful, but this year will be more so than some. Our school was listed in the paper as being one of the schools in the district that has never met AYP. Most teachers understand how flawed No Child Left Behind is. But that doesn’t prevent the stress. It seems to me and I think most educators who have ever worked in at-risk schools, that most of the things that have been put in place and are being put in place to “fix” education, will not fix education, and much of it will make things worse. You can’t fix a problem by treating the symptoms. And most teachers aren’t the problem anyway.
I went to some of the big department stores that typically give good sales on school supplies. The deals are still good, but things have gone up It is especially apparent when you are trying to get supplies for 30 kids, not just one or two. In the past I have usually purchased about a gross of the smaller glue sticks, about 40 folders for homework, and about 40 of the 24 packs of crayons. The crayons and the glue sticks have been 20 cents a package, this year they are 40 cents. And I can’t find the folders I usually use for under about a dollar a piece. I’ve decided I can’t afford to spend that much on supplies this year.
I usually send home homework once a week on Monday to be returned on Friday. It usually consists of a Weekly Reader, and a free book from Scholastic, a little math review and their current letters and sight words and a reading log. They are expected to read with a family member for 20 minutes a day.
We give each family a list at registration, of suggested supplies for the classroom. Paper towels, facial tissue, some liquid soap. It’s not mandatory, but it helps. I also give them a list of acceptable snacks that can be donated to the classroom for snack time. No donations, no snacks. That’s not strictly true, but since the school doesn’t provide snacks, if the parents don’t, then I have too, and in the past that has been a significant expense.
The economy continues to hard here, the school is cutting many things, the parents are in a bad way financially, and teachers can’t keep taking up the slack out of their own pockets. I haven’t worried too much about what I spend on my class in the past, because if I wanted to teach a certain way, then I would provide the materials to do so if the school wouldn’t. But this year, it seems that my discretionary money has finally shrunk to the point that I am making a conscious effort to cut back on the spending.