Supplies and Trends in Fund Allocation
You know I’m a public school teacher Justin, and I am generally on your side. I believe the unions and bureaucracy are the significant problems in public education.
With that in mind, I found this post to be way off the mark. Yes, you need to buy expensive tools to be a carpenter. That’s part of the initial investment in your profession. Teachers invest in five or six years of education, and continue to invest in education as their tools of the trade. I regularly buy professional texts to learn more, and better my practice. I pay to attend professional conferences and workshops for the same purpose. I should.
When you build a structure, you don’t pay for the materials. You figure that into the amount of the job. The party that contracted you pays for the materials. The contractor determines the profit after the cost of the materials are figured in.
I could go on and on about how much I spend on my classroom. I won’t. I’m not complaining. But it seems ridiculous that teachers should have to buy pencils, crayons, paper, folders, books, and the like for 25 students as part of their salaries.
I know your argument will be that teachers get too much. But this post is petty, and adds to the idea that you are anti-teacher. Teachers should not be responsible for buying classroom supplies. How much they should be paid is another argument.
I must tell you that I’ve been disappointed lately. The liberal RI blog is all about the unions and the teachers, and this blog seems all about the taxpayers. It mirrors the entire debate. It’s the children that don’t have strong advocates. I’m working on that.
Just in case there’s misunderstanding as to what sorts of things carpenters need beyond hammers, nails, and wood, I jotted down a quick inventory of disposable items with which I keep my van stocked at my own expense, not including such things as screws and nails or tools: pencils, notepads, shoe guards, latex gloves, ear plugs, dust makes, garbage bags, grinder discs, flushcut blades, sawzall blades, skilsaw blades, jigsaw blades, drill bits, rotozip bits, palm sander discs, belt sander belts, masonry bits, screwdriver bits, sandpaper, light bulbs, snap line chalk, wood filler, bondo, wood cleaner, wood glue, PVC primer and glue, zip ties, caulk, silicone, construction adhesive, painter’s tape, duct tape, aluminum tape, electrical tape, caution tape, air gun oil, pumice, wood putty, rope, string, primer, chip brushes, shims, Goo Gone, metal straps, and sheet plastic.
Some of these items duplicate supplies provided when needed in bulk for a job. Some of them are regular items to which I periodically have access for stocking purposes. Some of them I buy because I prefer a product other than what my boss provides. But like tools and specialty fasteners, having such things on-hand whether or not a specific need was foreseen makes me a more effective and efficient carpenter, with one of its benefits being the ability to ask for higher pay. Just so, Central Falls teacher Pam Barnes told the Providence Journal that buying school supplies “makes it easier for us to teach” — that is, it makes them more effective as teachers.
By assenting to a cookie-cutter seniority system of remuneration, the public school system has drained the practical reason for teachers to strive to be uniquely effective in this way (although many clearly continue to see moral and emotional reasons), so it’s understandable that they’d develop the sense that they ought to be collectively entitled to a well-stocked supply closet courtesy of the taxpayers.
With that word, I’ve likely given those who share Mike’s perspective an “A-ha!” moment, so the moment is opportune to insist that he is incorrect. To the extent that I make my arguments in terms of the “taxpayer,” it is implicit that the complaint is against the failure to realize value, which is to say, the interest of the students. Honestly, my opinion has changed on this matter as I’ve listened to teachers, administrators, and school committee members talk as if the only financial options are to increase revenue or to cut programs and other direct benefits to students, and as I’ve collected data for charts like these.
From 2000 to 2007, Rhode Island’s per-pupil expenditures increased 40% on instructional teachers and 242% on retiree benefits while per-pupil spending on instructional materials decreased 9%. If the adults who have been soaking up our ever-increasing investment in education find it necessary to cover expenses that districts can no longer afford, it strikes me as, well, not worthy of front-page news coverage. At least no more worthy than would be a story about carpenters in search of good deals on router bits or copy editors looking for sales on reference books.