Friday, May 12, 2006

I'm Sad

Most of the time I post about meaningless fluff and superficialness but today I feel I need to vent if you will about something that I find so frustrating.

I am lucky to be living in the area that I do. I live within the boundaries of a school that serves more of the affluent members of our fine city. Although this school is older and smaller than the ones I grew up in, it is clean, we have wonderful teachers and great opportunities for the kids to spread their wings. This last winter, they intaduced a new ski / snowboarding program for Grades 1 and 2 (Grades 3 through 6 have been doing it for a while). Although I was a little scared of sending my baby down a hill with nothing but a helmet and wrist guards, I thought it was a great opportunity. I paid the $129 and sent my young one of on a bus to experience gravity at its finest. If we couldn't afford it the school would pay for it.

A few months later I was at a baby shower where they were discussing the state of some of the schools in our city. Some of the ladies were student teachers and were telling us what it was like on the inside. This one girl was talking about a school in the NE (I don't know which) were they don't even have enough funding to supply themselves with paper or pencils for all of the kids. Luckily this year a company that she was working for to put herself through school, sponsored the school she was student teaching at. The company bought them all of the paper they needed and other school supplies. She said she was concerned about what the school would do next year when her company chooses another school to sponsor (spread the wealth I guess) its not the like the parents in that community can do it.

Fast forwars to 3 weeks ago. My school (the one my son goes too) was having a milestone birthday party. Because of the party, they suddenly received thousands of dollars in extra funding to give the grounds and insides a bit of a face lift. Yes the new awards shelf looks lovely (much better than the old yet satisfactory one) and the grounds are better for maitennace (less watering, and mud tracking due to mulching and rock beds) but I can't help but wonder if that money could have been better spent. My son gets to go snow boarding for a week while others kids, not too far away are lucky if the have a pencil and a piece of paper to practice their printing and spelling.

Now I wouldn't be so upset if my school was a private school with private funding, but it is not. As I understood it the school gets a certain amount of money for each child they have on record by the end of September (an idea that I don't fully agree with) so why does my school get all of this "extra funding"? Of course I am assuming enrollments are about the same, but I think they are higher in the poorer school. I also understand that parents in our community can afford to buy their children the supplies they need, were that isn't the case for the other school. Yet how can their be such a difference.

When my son was younger the philosophy was to shop around for the school you wanted your child to go to, but throught school closers and consolidating enrolments are high for the capacity of the school. D's teacher said they won't be able to take any children out of the school boundaries for next year. She even said that included the children already attending who live out of bounds. There are at least 3 or 4 kids in D's class that this will affect. That sucks!

I wish there was something I could do. Some way to give more balance. This is our kids' futures I am talking about. Its really important, yet I don't know what to do or where to start. I wish I had more ideas. I wish I knew influential people who wouldn't mind parting with some money for the sake of our children's and countries future. But who am I? A stay at home mom who knows no one and although is extremely frustrated, is still grateful she lives where she does, because if it was somewhere else I think I would be more frustrated.


Karen said...

Oh my gosh it is like that where you are too?! In your "affluent" province, your schools can't pay for pencils and paper either. Although he's in a different program now, at my son's old school I remember I sent him with his own binder paper, only to learn that the teacher was collecting it from the kids to put in a "pool" for the whole class. Every year the recommended school supplies list for each kid includes a box of kleenex. (Again, the teacher collects them and uses them for the class.) I always think that's crazy when I see that.

Allrie said...

As A former teacher who did exactly that, I must comment. In some classes, even in the most affluent schools, it is simple easier to "pool" the supplies. That way--everyone has what is needed. Also, theteacher can then add unobtrusively to the supplies where there are gaps, and the child[ren] who cannot bring everything is not usually noticed.

The Kleenex is for the whole class--and the teacher again must supply her room with kleenex if the students don't. Trust me, a box of Kleenex per child you have in school will not break you, but when you are the teacher and you have to keep it on hand, and you go throufght a bad cold bout in your classroom--it can get very pricey--sometimes you can go thru several boxes in one day!

Now...As to Alysobn's post: You are right in your observations. And yes, you are a stay at home Mom. Who better to organize a dreive for needed supplies? Perhaps your kids school could "adopt" a sister school [or class--a class] and supply pencils and paper, crayons, scissors, glue, whatever. Also, PTA or PTO grups are fine, but an active paren't club is better. I was in one school where a few weeks before school started for the year, each teacher was asked for a "wish list" and as much as could be done was done each year with volunteer labor and materials. I once wished for my side chalkboard to be all bulletin board. The next week, it was. That year the kindergarden teacher wished for shelves along one wall. She got them.

I taught in a lot on inner city situations in more recent years. I grew weary [and poor] from having to purchase so much in the way of school supplies--but at least I knew the problem was district-wide. I wuld just get crazy when I would see a kid with no supplies, but money for treats. I did not understand it then, I do not understand it now. But I do know that teachers should not have to supply the basics out of her own pocket. But most of the time they do. And that is not all. Teachers also purchase much of their extras for classroom use--flashcards, storybooks, bulletinboard sets--especiaslly the teaching kind. Much of the construction paper etc. for the early grades as well as much of the copy paper as few schools have a large enough budget--and seldom do they have adequate textbooks now. I could go on...:( but I'd better stop now. [I can FEEL my blood pressure rising!]

fourth_fret said...

our education system is seriously mucked up. and it appears, with the "no child left behind act"... where schools are hurting the most, they will now have funding cut even futher because they aren't meeting a certain criteria.

now, i'm all for not leaving a child behind... but my theory is- if a school cannot already get their students to where they need to be, don't they need MORE funding to implement the tools, and programs that would help them?

i know this post wasn't about all of that... but it seems to fall into it some.

but hey, our professional athletes could fund several schools because we take care of those guys. YAY!