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October 14, 2012

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The ordering as an invisible--Mark, your post made me think about science ordering and equipment, and I am now putting together my own post on this!

I hear you, Mark. I'm having to make do with 24 math textbooks for my class of 28. You do what you can.

I think we're at a point with funding where the discrepancy among expecation and resources is being felt.

If you choose to teach children who live in poverty, you're choosing to stretch budget gaps, spend your weekends repairing fragile paperbacks with clear packing tape, and make do.

If you choose to teach children whose parents can supplement and support their child's education, you can make a "wish list," ask students to purchase their own materials, and probably have a PTA robust enough to give you a nice reimbursement every year.

It's lunacy.

The out-of-pocket spending many teachers do is definitely invisible.

All these gaps have to be closed, whether it is paper, books, science kits, enough teachers, whatever.

This summer we had to replace the roof on our house... it was weak, leaking, old, and so soft in places that the contractor wouldn't even walk on it. It cost my wife and I a pretty penny, and our monthly budget is now the tightest it has ever been--we had to finance it (borrow from our future) in order to make it happen. This means I haven't personally purchased anything other than gas for my car since mid-August...there is no room for extras...we chose a roof over halloween costumes, a few fancy coffees a month, some new school clothes and christmas presents, or even little things...I asked my wife if I could bake some peanut-butter cookies this afternoon, but was told no, that peanut butter was too expensive for that.

There are obvious difference between a household and school system, so I know this metaphor isn't super strong. I feel like, too often, schools have to resort to blue tarps and old tires rather than a new roof. My wife and I reworked our budget and took on debt to make sure that the problem with our roof didn't get worse. Would blue tarps and old tires have kept the roof from leaking? Maybe on a superficial level it could be a possible stop-gap. Every time I have to scratch together pennies just to get enough beat-up copies of a novel (because we need it now and beat-up is what my building can afford), I feel like I'm throwing a tarp on the roof. Without the resources, it is hard to get the best--or even the acceptable.

To hear policy makers talk, some say that we need to make better use of our resources. Sure, but to actually fix things will require more than reallocation of our current funding. Reallocation couldn't fix my roof, a difficult investment did. It frustrates me when I hear how "throwing money at a broken school system" is a bad idea--but the reality, to me, is that if we want to see change happen, and if we want our students to be well prepared, we need to be willing to invest in something better than old tires and blue tarps to fix our leaky roof.

Ouch! You are right on, especially in this statement of yours, "When I get an email that we are a class-set short of copies of an anchor novel in the curriculum, I have to find a way to cover that gap."

My students are reading Of Mice and Men next month. I need to make sure we have enough books. How can our students delve into a book unless they can hold it; how can they read the book unless they can take it home?

I spent last week looking at the invisibles in my school and the one I came up with is similar to yours. Mine involved Paper, but is about resources. I wonder if we are at a point in the school year where the discrepancy among Expectation and Resources starts to be felt.

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