Sunday, August 22, 2004

No Child Left Behind?

It's over.

I bid adieu to summer vacation Wednesday night.
Department Heads returned to school Thursday and Friday to prepare for three days of meetings with teachers before the students come back to class on Thursday the 26th.

There was a prevailing anxiety these past couple of days, as we anticipated the consequences of the staff cuts and major slashes to the operating budget.

There is no money for supplies.

Since the music program was cut, I am the only fine arts teacher in the building. That means lots more students, because the state mandates one credit of a fine art in order to graduate.
No Max Hayes student can walk across that stage in June without passing my class.

One hundred seventy eight kids in six classes is our contractual limit.
Granted, there have been other years when I had an overflow of students on my roster, but back then there was money in my departmental budget.
Not a lot mind you, I've learned to stretch a buck over the years.
When the district gives me $5 per student to purchase art supplies meant to last a whole year, I honestly feel like a miracle worker. Paper and paint take the place of loaves and fishes.
Being a Title I school, we are not supposed to charge the students or their families any fees for supplies, therefore, many teachers supplement the supply budget from our own pockets.
I try to pick up things when I see a really good sale, and over the course of the school year I typically spend between $500-600.
Most of my colleagues do the same.
This year, with $0 per student, I'm either going to end up spending much more, or I will have to figure out some kind of fund raiser,

If there are any Republicans among you, I really could use some insight here.

We have fewer teachers, no materials, no funding for professional development, and a school levy that is likely to fail. George Bush signed legislation to insure that there is "No Child Left Behind".
Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems to me that in Cleveland we have 73,000 children being left behind.

What happened?

------------------------------------Update-------Monday, August 23, 2004

Valdis Krebs asked me to post the following comment I sent him in an e-mail earlier today, as a follow-up to this entry:

Today I just learned of four more teachers in our building who were laid off.
We have no master schedule since we don't know who will be teaching.
Positions are still being eliminated as I write to you.
There are no schedules for the students who will be in school Thursday.
This is the biggest crisis I have ever seen in the district. It is sure to get worse in the winter when the levy fails.
This month will be looking like a cake walk



ladygoat said...

Maybe you could try getting donations through or by setting up a wishlist on cleveland's I know I would be willing to make a contribution.

Mary Beth said...

I'm not sure how any teacher manages these days. I've been wondering about this since the first time I saw a list of what kids needed to bring to school and it included cleaning supplies and other stuff that was for the classroom. More and more I ask where my school tax dollars are going and why, if there isn't enough for papertowels or windex etc, why I'm not paying more in taxes!

Of course, I live in New York State, where the state budget doesn't get passed on time (four months late this year!) and that impacts schools especially. Only solution there -- throw the bums out!

Rayne Today said...

Brought tears of frustration and sadness to my eyes to read this. As a parent of grade school children, I'm amazed at the changes in the public school system since I was a kid -- or even since my stepson was in grade school a dozen years ago. We're spending $50+ a year per student on supplies that are fundamental to the education process; I know the teachers are having to make up the shortfalls when some students cannot bring supplies. I don't know how teachers do it.

If I can make a suggestion, please consider putting a PayPal button on your site for donations -- or even an Amazon button for donations of books.

Ron said...

Republican here.....

You may want to put heat on your adminstration. Here, the average cost per student is around $8000 each. A class size of 20 is typical. Thats $160,000. A senior level teachers salary fully burdened might be $80,000. As such, thats $80,000 per classroom in overhead. Something is seriously wrong that your administration cannot fund each class with supplies. In the business world, such high overhead without the proper funding for infrastructure would result in CEO removal in a heartbeat.

What tickes me off, is that the arts programs typically get the shaft when it comes to cuts. From a business standpoint, I'd much rather hire a sharp art major, and train them, than a sharp technician (I'm using technician losely, it could be any doing type occupation) who does not have vision and passion. Early introduction to the arts does make a difference. In engineering, I'm partial to those who were in symphony, as the left brain right brain development seems to foster the type of individual I'm looking for, more so than those in the visual arts. However, a broad exposure too many facets of art is key. Even my partner, a software guy is immersed in sculture. A guru I learned much of the tech world from has made the transition from scientist to artist. How much greater would his accomplishments been, had he known the hidden art within him at an earlier age.

Early art education is a great return on investment... $80,000 in overhead per class is a lousy one.

What to do... You have an advantage, creative solutions are rampant in the art world, much more so than in a lot of other educational arenas. My ideas are not short term ones, and for that I apologize, perhaps fundraising activities are the only solution combined with self funding in the short term.

A longer term one is networking. Get to know your local business world and its leaders. You must establish a rapport, it will not happen overnight. More than likely you can get some substantial donations through your network.

We did this with a youth program back in 99. It started out as an engineers vision. He captured another 50-100 folks through his network and got us on board. We looked at it as an engineering project. 18 months later, we had over $24000 in yearly corporate sponsor ship, and 300 volunteers. The last time I checked, the organization serves over 5000 kids... and it even has a paid director. It was all done without any govt funding, other than of course writing off the donations.

Here's how it might work: Back when I had a real office, we had artwork decorating budgets of $50-$100 a shot every few years. Multiply that by the number of offices, and all of a sudden its a big number. Add in a cafeteria, or other common area, and you have yet more funding available... and usually many corporate cafeterias and or employee common areas are pretty drab. It can be a win win for both. By providing some level of donation, you also provide some artwork back to the business. We would have jumped up and down to have student art in our cafeteria years ago. Instead, no one wanted to commit to a theme, so we did nothing, and put the allocated funding into holiday decorations instead. A extravagant waste imho, since 90% of it was thrown away every year.

There are going to be ethical issues and accounting headaches, but they can be worked through. I leave that up to you and your network to resolve. 50-100 phone calls to your network of both small and larger businesses will get you funded. A small tech startup would more than likely jump at the chance to have something cool in their chaotic environment, A donation is a small price to pay... and we both know that even the really young can be pretty creative, so age is less of an issue than it would appear.

The key is the network, I know you can make it work.

marybeth said...

Thanks Ron,
All good ideas, and happily I'm a jump ahead. I've found networking, and fundraising via grant writing, to be a huge asset in my ability to provide good programs, and I have some amazing ones. However, most teachers are not me. We are trained as educators, not in business or grant writing. The problem comes into play when those things are taken for granted. Ditricts put les money into materials when they assume teachers will get the money through grants. A business will hire a grant writer. Teacher training programs dont iclude that training, and anyone who has written a proposal knows, it is not easy, and very time consuming.
You think $80,000 (high estimate) is a lot to spend on a teacher? How many hours a week do your empoyees put into their jobs AT HOME on a daily basis? How much post graduate work must they continue to do just to maintain their jobs? (at their own expense and on their own time time) We are not babysitters. Did you realize that people pay daycare a whole lot more than the community pays teachers? At $6-8 an hour per child at the daycare rate, hmmm...let's see 30 students per a 1 hour class x 6 classes at $6.00 an hour...gee that's $1,000 a day x 182 days a year... comes to $182,000/year. $80,000 looks like a bargain. You cannot hold education to the same standard as business, since it is funded in a very different manner, and serves very different needs. The average taxpayer really doesn't want to spend a whole lot of money on othere people's children.

derek said...

As a Cleveland Public Schools graduate (John Hay '94), it disappoints me to see what teachers have to work with. I have always respected my teachers...that is until I decided to be one. That respect grew exponentially and so did my disappointment with what they have to deal with.

To reply to an earlier comment, repeat after me. Education is NOT a business. I repeat, education is NOT a business. Businesses choose who they serve. If you want to sell widgets, you sell widgets. You don't have to sell whatsits if you choose not to. Education, especially public education, must take all comers. If you are between the specified ages, you must go to school. Period. Business revolves around profit. Education simply should not. I am not saying that fiscal responsibility has no place in school administration (of course, it does) but an educated populace is priceless. Cleveland wants to attract and retain knowledge workers and the creative class but doesn't understand that a top-notch education is a big draw to those people. Why? Because education and innovation go hand and hand. If the next Charles Goodyear were trying to innovate today, would he be in Akron? If the next Charles Brush was tweaking his invention today, would he take root in Cleveland? They would get laughed out of town by developers who only want to build the next clump of big-box retail or slimy characters looking to build on the public dime.

Speaking of tax up Euclid from downtown to the Cleveland/East Cleveland border. Where are the TAXPAYERS?

No wonder you have no money to work with.

John said...

Just ran across a website tonight that may interest you: http:''

This is a nationwide website and when you join, you list the name of a school (or schools) you wish to benefit from this site. Why don't you check it out to see if it would have any benefit to you and your school.

Also Mary Beth, on one of your posts you said: "Ditricts put les money into materials when they assume teachers will get the money through grants."

Where do they put this money, then?


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