IPS is Willing to Pay in Hopes High School Teachers Will Stay

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At the end of June, Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) announced its school closure plan.  The district has recommended that John Marshall, which was a high school last year, but has been converted to a middle school this year, and Broad Ripple be closed at the end of this school year.  Northwest and Arlington High School are operating as high schools this year, but the district would like to convert them into middle school campuses next school year.  

With all the changes and uncertainty, some high school teachers resigned from the district during the summer.  Even if you are a teacher who is choosing to remain, the temptation is out there.  Other schools have been reaching out to IPS high school teachers.  A few high school educators on various IPS high school campuses shared with me they have received emails from other schools inviting them to interview even though they had not previously contacted those schools; I have also been contacted.

On the first day back for students, July 31, 2017, IPS sent the message below outlining a monetary incentive for all high school teachers, not just the ones teaching at schools recommended to close, to remain with the district for the remainder of the school year.

IPS Negotiates Incentives to Retain Teachers During the Reinvention of High Schools

Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) has reached an agreement with the Indianapolis Education Association (IEA) to pay the district's high school teachers a bonus if the Board of School Commissioners votes to approve the recommended high school consolidation.

As the district prepares to reinvent its High School Experience, it is important for students to have stability within the teaching staff. To encourage and support this stability, IPS and IEA have agreed to a financial incentive to recruit and retain high school teachers.

"Reinvented high schools for the 2018-19 school year should not yield a compromised high school experience this current school year," said IPS Superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee. "This retention incentive underscores how much we value our teachers and stability for our students and families."

If school commissioners approve the administration's recommendation to close/convert high schools, IPS will provide eligible high school teachers with a one-time stipend for remaining with the district during the time of transition in the following amounts:

  • $5,000 for those who started their employment with IPS on or before the start of the 2016-17 school year

  • $2,500 for those who started their employment with IPS after the start of the 2016-17 school year

To be eligible for the stipend, high school teachers must:

  • Receive an effective or highly effective evaluation for the 2017-18 school year

  • Be at work and perform their regularly assigned duties at least 93% of the school year

  • Have worked at least 90 contract days

The district will pay the bonus to eligible high school teachers at the conclusion of the 2017-18 school year.

"IEA was looking at how the district could give our students' stability during this time of uncertainty for our high school teachers," said Rhondalyn Cornett, IEA President. "Our hope is that teachers will feel more confident in the district during this transition and help ensure the reinvention of our high schools is a success."

School commissioners will vote on the school closure/conversion recommendation at a special Board meeting on September 18, 2017.

I wonder why there is not an incentive for support staff.  They are the backbone of our schools.  We need them to remain throughout the school year too.  Will this be enough to motivate teachers to stay?  Money does not fix everything.

 

A New School Year - Tips for Parents

Summer vacations are now wrapping up and it’s time for parents to get their children prepared to return to school.  Parents send their children to school to receive a good education, but there are actions parents can take to help promote their children’s success.

Register for school before school starts and update your contact information.

The first day and the first week of school sets the foundation for the school year.  There aren’t any good days of school to miss.  When children miss these days because their parents did not register on time or return from vacation before school begins, they miss an opportunity to bond with their teacher and classmates and learn about the school and their new grade.  If parents don’t have to register because their children are returning to the same school, they should still update contact information.  Parents may miss pertinent information about their children because the contact information no longer works.

Attend back to school events.

Back to school events are an opportunity for parents to hear from the principal, meet teachers and other school staff.  Many schools also have other services available where parents can put money into their children’s breakfast/lunch account, complete paperwork to sign children up for counseling or to sign up for a club.

At these events, schools typically hand out the school’s calendar and share other resources to help parents support their children during the year.

Obtain required supplies.

Children need to have all supplies on the first day of school.  There’s nothing worse than a child feeling ashamed or choosing to act out because he or she is not prepared for success.  Yes, times are hard, but there are options to obtain supplies if parents cannot afford them.  Many community organizations such as churches give away supplies every year.  If parents don’t know who these organizations are, then they should call the school before school begins because most of the time the school will know who those organizations are and get parents connected.

Encourage and prepare your child.

I can never forget the year I heard a parent say on the first day of school to her son, “Don’t be a dummy this year.”  A new year is a new opportunity.  A child’s biggest cheerleader should be in the home.  Parents should talk to their children about the new school year and ask if there are any lingering questions or concerns.  Knowing there is encouragement and support at home goes a long way.

Make a plan to stay involved over the course of the school year.

Occasionally, I would be in the front office when a parent would arrive to pick up a child early.  Then, I would hear the parent say to the secretary, “I don’t know who the teacher is, but I need my child now because I need to go.”  This should never be the case; parents should have a strong relationship with the teacher.  Teachers need support from parents.  Parents should have the parent/teacher conference on their calendars and days marked when they can come in and observe to see how their child is doing.  Volunteering in the classroom or at school events is another way to be involved.  Involvement shows children school is an important place to be.

Student success is not just the school’s responsibility; all stakeholders must work in tandem to ensure our children receive the best education.

 

Creating Reflections: My Drive to Inspire and Develop the Next Generation of Black Male Teachers

“What made you become an educator?” My answer is always the same, “What else would I do?”  I know I could have pursued another career, but now I honestly cannot see myself doing anything else. I began my career as a high school teacher and although I am no longer in the classroom, I feel like I never stopped being a teacher. I taught at a traditional public school, but then spent time teaching at a state takeover charter school. Somewhere in between, I found a greater calling. I wanted to inspire and develop the next generation. I wanted to get more black male teachers into the classroom. I wanted to do that with high school students. For me, it is about creating reflections. I want to create reflections for black boys to see themselves as teachers. Teaching and being an educator is bigger than me. This job is not about my individual accomplishments, but about the accomplishments of the masses.  I want to leave a mark. I wanted to leave my imprint on the profession. The best way to do that is to inspire the next generation.

On Wednesday, July 26th, I had the opportunity to participate in the XQ: Super Schools Bus Tour when they made a stop in Indianapolis. They hosted a Changemaker Session which allowed individuals to give a three minute pitch on what they are trying to implement to make a change in Indianapolis. My pitch was to create reflections for Black boys. My hope was to garner support for the idea for a Teacher Cadet Program that would inspire and develop the next generation of Black male teachers. Here is my three minute pitch at the event:

Good evening, my name is David McGuire. I want to talk to you briefly about the importance of creating reflections for Black boys.

Growing up in K-12, I had one Black male teacher - just one, despite attending a large demographically diverse school district here in Indianapolis. Let’s look at the state of education for Black boys. About 80% of the teachers are White females and the school leaders are White males. I see three problems with the current state of education in regards to diversity: schools do not reflect the students they serve, Black boys do not see themselves as teachers, and Black boys are falling through the cracks. Black boys represent lowest performing students in schools and Black males makeup the lowest percent of teaching staffs. Has anyone ever considered this correlation? No Black boy should experience a teaching staff I experienced growing up. Black male teachers do not just impact Black students, but they impact all other students as well. The experience of having a Black male teacher will impact kids’ perspective of Black men for the rest of their lives.

It is time to commit to changing the reflections our students see when they look at school. Schools have to be intentional about what Black boys experience throughout their education. We need to recruit more Black male teachers and create pathways that allow Black male teachers to grow, achieve, and succeed.  Let’s start by recruiting Black boys to pursue teaching as a career while in high school.  Let’s come together to mentor and support Black male students at the university level as they begin their journey as a teacher and let’s elevate the voices and status of our current Black male teachers. High schools must begin to create exposure to teaching and mentoring.  That is why this fall my foundation Educate ME will begin doing pops of Educate ME Cadet Programs to encourage juniors and seniors in Indianapolis high schools to consider teaching.

Our biggest barrier is the devaluing of the teacher profession. Too often teachers complain about their job instead of celebrating it. I truly believe the break down in the community happened when the teaching profession lost its value. When the community was at its peak, Black males were the stalwarts of the community. You want to impact a community, you must impact the schools and classrooms in the community.

I am asking for your support as I embark on this journey to encourage Black boys to consider teaching. I am asking that we change the narrative surrounding teaching. When you see Black boys, let’s encourage them and not deter them from considering teaching. The teacher is the gatekeeper to all other professions and it is about time we be the same for our own. I want to leave you with this, “Educate a child you educate an individual, but if you educate a child to become a teacher, you educate the future.”

Thank you all for listening. Let’s start creating reflections for our Black boys.

It was great opportunity to share my passion and my vision with other changemakers in Indy. Not only did I share my vision, but I was also able to make some great connections to eventually make my dream a reality.

The mission of Educate ME Foundation is to increase the number of teachers of color in Indianapolis. We will fulfill our mission by creating pathways for teachers of color to grow, achieve, and succeed. If you would like to support our Educate ME Cadet program by being a mentor to our Cadet Students, please visit our website www.educatemefoundation.org

 

Comment

David McGuire

Mr. McGuire is a middle school teacher in Indianapolis, Teach Plus Policy Fellow, and currently enrolled in a doctoral program at Indiana State University for Educational Leadership. Driven by the lack of having an African American male teacher in his classrooms growing up, David helped launched the Educate ME Foundation, which is geared towards increasing the number of African American male teachers in the classroom. A born and raised Hoosier, he is dedicated to improving educational outcomes for all students in Indianapolis. He describes his educational beliefs as a reformer grounded in the best practices of traditional public schools, where he was mentored by strong leaders. David graduated from Central State University with a degree in English and also holds an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Weekend Links (7/30/2017)

Comment

Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.

Good Read: The Ongoing Battle Between Science Teachers And Fake News

By Andrew Pillow

When I first became a teacher, I figured my job would consist solely of teaching my students new material.

I was wrong. Unfortunately, a very large portion of my job has become combating the other ideas and the material that it is already in my student’s head. Rather it be the tales of “illuminati” or the rebirth of the flat earth conspiracy, my students soak up wrong information… and its making my job harder.

I am not alone.

NPR covered this topic in their article, The Ongoing Battle Between Science Teachers And Fake News:

“Every year Patrick Engleman plays a little trick on his students. The high school chemistry teacher introduces his ninth-graders in suburban Philadelphia to an insidious substance called dihydrogen monoxide. It's "involved in 80 percent of fatal car crashes. It's in every single cancer cell. This stuff, it'll burn you," he tells them.
But dihydrogen monoxide is water. He says several of his honors classes decided to ban it based just on what he told them.
The lesson here isn't that teenagers are gullible. It's that you can't trust everything you hear. In a time when access to information is easier than ever, Engleman says that his current students have much more to sift through than his past students. These days kids come in with all sorts of questions about things they've read online or heard elsewhere.”

Teachers have to prioritize teaching students to differentiate between sources in the age of the internet.

Read more here. (NPR)

Comment

Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.

How Do Indianapolis Parents Feel about Schools Paddling Their Children?

While scrolling on Twitter one day, I saw a post I almost couldn’t believe, “Texas school district  approves paddling misbehaving students.”  I almost threw my phone because I was in disbelief.  Have we really run out of strategies to curve misbehavior that we have to resort to corporal punishment? Three Rivers Independent School board in South Texas approved the use of paddles to administer corporal punishment. According to the Texas Classroom Teachers Association, corporal punishment is defined as “deliberate infliction of physical pain by hitting, paddling, spanking, slapping or any other physical force used as a means of discipline.” 

According to the report parents have the opportunity to opt in or out of the policy. Parents can opt out through written or verbal consent. Onceparents opt out, their child(ren) cannot be paddled. If parents do not opt out, their child(ren) will receive one paddle for the infraction when they misbehave in school. 

Corporal punishment is still legal in Indiana.  WTHR reported:  

 

Indiana state law allows corporal punishment, though most districts have locally decided to use other forms of discipline. In fact, the law lets school staff “take any disciplinary action necessary to promote student conduct” in the same manner a parent may.

 

An analysis of U.S. Department of Education data performed by Indiana Public Media found 30 schools across 17 public school districts recorded a total of 239 instances of corporal punishment in the 2013-14 school year, which is the most recent data available.


I wanted to know from Indianapolis residents, who have school age children, whether or not they would opt in or out if this policy was implemented at their child(ren)’s school.   

 

Opt Out:

Ashley Ushi, mother of daughter and son in private school  

Of course I would opt out. Discipline and training begins at home.   I strongly believe that parents are their child's first teachers.  To put the discipline of your child into the hands of another - all it says is to a child is you don't care about me enough to protect me when someone is hurting me. A lot of times, the discipline by an individual to a person that is not their child could yield abuse which is not in the best interest of the child.  Children may feel scared to be in these situations. Can you imagine being a child in school where an administrator is allowed to discipline you with a paddle and then have to go back to class after this happened? The pain! There is the humiliation because all of the students will know.

Brandon Brooks, father of son and daughter

I’d opt out… I don’t think the school personnel love my kids enough to spank them. If teachers were in the community that they teach in, I think I might be okay with it. If they were in my community there would be a sense of accountability for all parties involved.

LaNiece Holifield, mother of 5th grade daughter

I would opt out because I have a ten year old daughter that is headed to 5th grade.  She is a lot bigger than most ten year olds, weight and height, so they may use excessive force and I am not having that.  Plus, it’s way more effective if they call me because she knows mom doesn’t play!

Shawnta Barnes, mother of public school 1st grade twin sons

I would opt out because of implicit bias in the classroom.  I am a mother of two Black boys and research has shown that Black boys are disciplined at a disproportionate rate as compared to other students.  If a school decided to paddle, I believe black children would be paddled at higher rates.  When my sons were in Pre-K 3, an assistant was fired for verbally abusing one of my sons.  It took my son a while to trust school personnel.  If either one of them were paddled, I believe it would be a detriment to their education because they would lose trust.  Also, I believe corporal punished is an overused discipline tactic. Many times parents use this as a easy fix and the child never understands what he or she did wrong or is taught how to make different choices in the future.

Mother of public school 7th grade son

Opt out.  

1. My son doesn’t do well with physical discipline… it doesn’t register.

2. It is more effective if the teacher calls me instead of thinking they will get him to do what they want through physical discipline.

3. I think it’s inappropriate for a school to discipline my child like that. My son attends a public school, but did attend a charter up until 5th grade. That was stressful and challenging and that is why I definitely wouldn’t recommend it.

Charter school mother of 3rd grader son

Not these days - I would opt out. I would rather come up there or send someone I trust to come handle it especially at the school my child attends where black children are the majority and black teachers are the minority.

Mother of 6th grade daughter and 2nd grade son

I would opt out… we are living in different time and there are so many other forms of discipline. What worked back then is not as effective now. I don’t even paddle my own children. We do time out; I take electronics and things of that nature.

Father of 3rd grade daughter

As a father to a 3rd grade girl I would say no.  As a man, I don’t want my daughter being comfortable with an adult, man or woman, hitting her as a disciplinary tactic.

 

Opt In:

James Conner, father of 8th grade son and 3rd grade daughter

I would opt in. I am a father of both a son and a daughter. I do discipline my children at home. I trust the school I send my children to and would ok with them being paddled. I have a son who only responds well when he is being disciplined physically. My daughter does not get in much trouble, but when she does at home she does get popped on her bottom and she doesn’t typically repeat the behavior.

Eric Smith, father of 5th grade son

I would allow the school to paddle my child. I do not want my child being hit multiple times, but one paddle would work for me. I believe kids act the way they act in school because they do not get paddled. I was paddled when I was in school and it kept me from getting in trouble.

Mother of 7th grade son

I would opt in. I would only agree to the principal being the one who does the paddling. It would also have to be only one. I would opt in because I would rather my child be paddled than being suspended from school. My child attends a school where they get suspended for small infractions and I would definitely take a paddling over him sitting at home.

Mother of 4th grade daughter

When my daughter gets out of line, I spank her. I would allow the school to paddle her if she gets out of line. They would first need to call me and I will agree to it depending on what she did. I would prefer it is a woman who does it and not a man. 

 

My Thoughts

I do not have kids so answering this question was hard for me.  As a teacher, I see the value in the paddle. Often, it is the physical discipline students respond to. I am not referring to beating a child, but a tap of pain to let them know that the behavior they are exhibiting is not appropriate. I do feel that tap must come from a place of love. The power behind a parent disciplining their child is behind the strike is love. They are doing this to teach their child(ren) a lesson. 

Now let me put the parent hat on. As mentioned in the comments above, discipline and training begins at home. The reason this is even a topic and that school districts especially in Texas have moved to this measure is the lack of trust schools have for parents disciplining their child(ren). Regardless as a potential future father, I would not feel comfortable with someone putting his or her hands on my child.


 

Comment

David McGuire

Mr. McGuire is a middle school teacher in Indianapolis, Teach Plus Policy Fellow, and currently enrolled in a doctoral program at Indiana State University for Educational Leadership. Driven by the lack of having an African American male teacher in his classrooms growing up, David helped launched the Educate ME Foundation, which is geared towards increasing the number of African American male teachers in the classroom. A born and raised Hoosier, he is dedicated to improving educational outcomes for all students in Indianapolis. He describes his educational beliefs as a reformer grounded in the best practices of traditional public schools, where he was mentored by strong leaders. David graduated from Central State University with a degree in English and also holds an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.

POLL: Less than 20% of African Americans Actually Oppose School Choice Initiatives

By Andrew Pillow

The African American community has become the focus of many conversations around school choice. Critics of school choice have claimed that it causes segregation and makes public-school funding dwindle. Many different organizations such as the NAACP and American Federation of Teachers have spoke out against school choice on behalf of African Americans…. But as it turns out when African-Americans are polled themselves on the issue, their stance ranges from indifferent to positive.

A poll conducted by Education Next, shows that less than 20% of black people polled actively oppose school choice initiatives like charter schools and tax credit scholarships.

When asked “Do you support or oppose the formation of charter schools?”: 33% of African Americans said they support charters and only 13% said they opposed with the rest being indifferent. It is worth noting that when provided the definition of charter schools the opposition rating went up to 29%, but the support rating went up to 46% as well.

African Americans also supported tax-credit scholarships at a high rate. When participants in the poll were told: “A proposal has been made to offer a tax credit for individual and corporate donations that pay for scholarships to help low-income parents send their children to private schools. Would you favor or oppose such a proposal?” a whopping 64% of black people responded that they supported the proposal compared to the 17% who didn’t and 19% who neither opposed or supported.

This actually means that according to this poll, black people support charter schools at a similar rate to other demographics, and tax-credit scholarships at a higher rate than ANY other demographic polled.

The poll attempted to find data around vouchers as well but the data was unavailable due to the small sample size of African American respondents.

Read the full survey results here. (Education Next)

Comment

Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.

The Next IT Girl

"Black women are more likely to express interest in majoring in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) fields when they enter college, but they are less likely to earn a degree in these fields." -The American Psychological Association

This quote is on the homepage of The Next IT Girl’s website and it drives the Founder and CEO Napiya Nubuya, an IT professional, to change this narrative.

SB:  What caused you to launch The Next IT girl?

NN:  I moved to Indy almost two years ago for a job in IT.  I was at a crossroads.  I thought, “What is my passion?  What am I placed here on this earth for?”  First, I decided to become a fashion blogger.  I thought it was a good fit for me and would fulfill me.  

When I graduated from my university, I was one of three Black girls in computer science throughout the years I was there.  It wasn't until I started working in corporate America, I saw up close how few women - especially women of color there were in the tech industry.  

I began contemplating all the pros and cons I faced during college and wanted to know why there weren't more women who looked like me in this field.  I completely did away with my fashion blog and decided to take a different route and create a solution that would increase the presence of women of color.  The Next IT Girl was then founded in 2015, in fashion, “the next it girl” is a popular phrase, so I took that to combine my love for fashion and technology and used it to name my organization.

SB:  How does The Next IT Girl make a difference for girls of color?

NN:  The Next IT Girl is comprised of a network of women of color in IT who are adamant representation matters.  For example, when you have people come and speak at a school, but no one of color is a speaker, the message just does not translate the same to the children of color in the audience.  When young girls see successful women who look like them, they are more likely to be receptive.  Through The Next IT Girl, young girls can learn about the field from women of color in the field. We mentor, educate, and advance them and help them on the IT path.

We offer workshops that are open to the public.  Our target is girls of color ages 8-22.  This summer we are wrapping up a summer workshop series.  Many underrepresented students don’t have access to technology courses in their school.  We want those students to have the opportunity to access that knowledge.  Similar organizations may have a heavy focus on coding, but I wanted to be sure we covered various aspects of IT such as hardware versus software and database management.  

SB:  Do you have any partnerships?

NN:  We partnered with ACE Prep Academy. It’s a new charter school in a great central location.  We both want to create opportunities so these children will have a different tomorrow.  We would love to partner with other community organizations also.  We host workshops year round.  If you are interested in becoming a partner or sponsor, we offer the resources and will work with you to determine the best workshop to meet your needs.

SB:  How will you know that you have made a difference?

NN:  I will know I have accomplished my mission when I have at least 20 girls walk across the stage with a technology degree, who wouldn't have considered a possible career in technology prior to joining The Next IT Girl.

SB:  Final thoughts?

NN:  I want people to know it takes a village.  We can offer great workshops and resources, but the community and families have to support these children and encourage them to get involved in tech.


To sign up for The Next It Girl workshop, click here.

Weekend Links (7/22/207)

Comment

Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.

Putting the classroom first

By Tanzi West Barbour

I remember when I didn’t have children but my friends did, they would complain about being asked to donate school supplies for the classroom. They didn’t understand why teachers just simply didn’t have “enough.” A number of my friends refused to comply with the request.

And the teachers and classrooms went without.

I didn’t understand what the big deal was then and eleven years later, as a mother of two, I really don’t understand it now. I have become the sales-paper-scouring, newspaper-watching, running-to-the-store-when-I-see-a-good-price, back-to-school-supplies shopping mom. Which means because the back-to-school items are normally extremely affordable, I make it a point to buy extra – for our home, for the classroom, for the school supply drive somewhere, and for the students at our school who may not be able to afford the basics.

I buy extra; not because I can, but because I believe it’s the right thing to do.

I was reminded of the lack that school teachers face when it comes to school supplies when I read an article about a teacher in Tulsa, Oklahoma who stood on the corner of a busy street with a sign that read “Teachers Need School Supplies. Any Amount Helps!” It reminded me of how little most teachers have to ensure our children are receiving the best instruction possible while they are in their classrooms. What she did was revolutionary in my eyes. While we have all received the school supply lists with the requests for classroom supplies, this teacher took matters into her own hands for her own classroom. Her actions have since gone viral and have forced us to have the conversation about budget cuts – big and small – and their ultimate effect on the classroom and more importantly, the students in the classroom.

So, what do you do? When I was worked in a public school system in Maryland, I was a part of the Superintendent’s leadership team. I remember the budget cut conversations and community meetings. I distinctly remember asking about effects to the classroom. The two Superintendents I worked for told me that all cuts will affect every classroom one way or the other. So how do you choose?

How do you know when and where to cut? How do you do more with less and not lose anything in the process? We live in an education world filled with data. Critical decisions are made based on important data points. I remember talking with a principal one day a few years ago about the needs of his school. I asked him, “How do you decide what stays and what goes in terms of student support? Where do you draw the line?” He was very open when he told me that most often the cuts come to the teachers. Maybe they have to rethink professional development offerings due to cost. Or maybe every classroom can’t have color paper or a smart board or new textbooks this year. Maybe, just maybe they can get by with a part-time nurse and librarian. The principal put it as simply as possible, “Would you rather have a reading specialist or an endless supply of copy paper? Because unfortunately, you can’t have both.”

Well on the surface it doesn’t sound like a big deal right? If the school can’t afford an endless supply of paper then surely the teachers can figure it out. But when you pull back the layers and dig deep into the spending these educators have to do in order to supply their basic needs, you realize they are spending more than $1,000 per year from their meager salaries. Divide that number by the number of parents in the classroom and you will see that a little donation goes a long way.

I feel like we’re in this endless cycle of “Whose Turn is it Anyway?” Whose turn is it to care about students enough that you want to protect the classroom whatever the costs? Whose turn is it to fight for policies and laws like Title IX that work to put educators first? Whose turn is it to also fight for equity in education so that the least of them can receive the most help and the most of them learn how to share their resources? Whose turn is it to look out for the underdog?

I find these issues in all types of education systems – traditional public schools, public charter schools, private schools, etc. When there is a lack, we need to engage. Whether it’s healthcare, housing, or education, when budgets are being cut, it’s our duty as parents and citizens to step in and fill in the gap.

I am all about taking it to the streets and finding solutions wherever possible. I salute that teacher in Tulsa, Oklahoma just as I salute all of our educators who are going above and beyond to ensure our students, their students, have their most basic school supply needs to be met. I mean, after all, it would be mighty hard to learn or teach without paper or pencil.