Teachers Offered Loans to Do Their Job

Sometimes a single image just sums up perfectly what is wrong with an issue or a society. This one certainly seems to capture the problems in our educational system. It’s an email sent to teachers by a credit union offering to loan them money to buy school supplies they should already have.

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It’s bad enough that teachers are put in a position where they have to buy school supplies for their students anyway, but now a bank wants to loan them money and charge them interest for it. Because that’s not too predatory or anything. The way we fund public schools in this country is ridiculous.

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  • Thumper: Token Breeder

    Fucking hell. Just out of interest, what essential schol supplies do teachers in the US not recieve, that they have to go out and buy for themselves? And what on Earth is the logic behind not supplying them, dare I ask?

  • jnorris

    Where I live, some businesses collect donated school supplies for the poorer students. This credit union would have been wiser to ask its members and employees for donations.

    And yes, the community has a responsibility to properly fund schools. Not doing so for the benefit of a politically powerful minority (read RICH) is a disgrace.

  • shouldbeworking

    Just great, now that this is out, my rightwing, narrow minded, tightfisted provincial government will start that here. Except they will overlook the low-cost part.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Because that’s not too predatory or anything.

    That’s not a bad thing. That’s a good thing. Who better to fix our overpriced, underfunded schools than the Free Market?

    This is the Free Market stepping in and fixing the many many problems of Government Schools (schools that, themselves, should be privatized, where the Free Market, guided by the Invisible Hand, will invigorate schooling, taking America’s students to higher plateaus than you Big Government Liberals ever could. Ideally, they’ll still be State funded, though. And also have no rules. And no oversight. The Free Market works best when powered by tax dollars, and its only successful with no reins and no transparency. Because Free Market).

  • iknklast

    And I go to a lot of garage sales where retired teachers are now selling some of these supplies; it helps me pick up stuff for the classroom. (I am much more fortunate, because I teach at a college, and right now they haven’t gone to making us pay for our own supplies; I just don’t like some of the cheap ones they provide, like pens that leak all over you. That’s the lowest bidder mentality).

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    Cancel the F-35 and give every teacher in the country a $300,000/yr raise.

    Close some bases and send every schoolkid on field trips to foreign countries – books not guns

    Get out of Afghanistan and use the money to gold plate every school building

    And there’d still be buckets of money left.

    We cannot have a serious discussion about how the US spends its wealth without talking about “defense” expenditures.

    What is it the hippies used to say “it’ll be a fine day when schools have all the money they need and the pentagon has to hold a bake sale to buy a new bomber.” So right.

  • iknklast

    Modusoperandi, I think you just described quite a few of the private schools under the voucher program!

  • Orakio

    For my spouse’s new (reading/literature) classroom in Pennsylvania this year, we’ve purchased several book shelves, a pile of organizational things, posters and placards, and a boatload of age-appropriate novels. Not strictly neccesary, just useful. She gets the super basics from the school – desks, access to a copier with paper and toner, basic office supplies. In South Carolina, she didn’t even get those – Her classroom was short of desks, she was using her own paper, and providing the students with pencils, on a salary that would have been sub-poverty if she had kids.

    Education here is significantly funded at the local level, largely by property with contributions from the higher levels of government. Schools do the bare minimum to have roofs, four walls, and teachers first. Not every school district has the funding to manage /that/, and taking another couple mills on a tax base of jack squat doesn’t bridge the gap. Once they have those, though, then they can buy things like desks and textbooks, and after that, room supplies, football teams, etc, etc. Not every school board prioritizes well, and sometimes they get bilked of what few resources they have by predatory banks. The teachers tend to be teachers because they care (FSM knows they don’t get paid…), and make up the differences out of their own shallow pockets.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    jnorris “And yes, the community has a responsibility to properly fund schools. Not doing so for the benefit of a politically powerful minority (read RICH) is a disgrace.”

    It’s not the rich.

    Look, everybody agrees schools should be properly funded, as long as you don’t raise their property taxes to pay for it. Much like getting in shape without diet or exercise, we need to raise money, but we have to do it without raising money.

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    Not doing so for the benefit of a politically powerful minority (read RICH) is a disgrace.”

    Well, it’s not like their kids go to the public schools.

  • unbound

    And some of the lack of supplies is after school fundraisers to top off this nonsense because of the chronic underfunding of the schools. In my own county, you have the Rethuglicans crying about the school system overspending when the reality is that their budget gets cut every year and (as one of the fastest growing counties in the nation) the student growth remains in the double digits. The idiot residents demonstrate their stupidity in the local papers because they buy the Rethuglican party PR hook, line and sinker.

    And the story gets worse when you get to the schools in the poor district. They don’t even attempt school fundraisers because they know none of the residents can afford to buy the fundraising products.

    One way you can help is by signing up your store reward cards to the poor school districts (so probably not your own)…they are truly very short on money.

  • D. C. Sessions

    The way we fund public schools in this country is ridiculous.

    It’s a necessary consequence of keeping taxes and those people down.

  • Michael Heath

    Ed writes:

    It’s bad enough that teachers are put in a position where they have to buy school supplies for their students anyway, but now a bank wants to loan them money and charge them interest for it. Because that’s not too predatory or anything. The way we fund public schools in this country is ridiculous.

    I disagree this offer is predatory, in fact at 1.99% APR the terms are generous to the point it’s probably less than the cost of money for this credit union. It’s 40% below the WSJ prime rate commercial lenders index when loaning money to businesses.*

    I agree it’s absurd on how we fund public schools. You’d think there’s an entire political party and two of our three major political movements demonstrably opposed to learnin’ and leveraging what we learn. But in regards to this credit union, I see their offer here as helpful in a bad situation beyond their control.

    *3.25% is the stated prime rate, but given a 360/365 amortization charged to businesses, the APR for prime is really 3.3%, which is what’s it’s been since the beginning, or near the beginning, of the Great Recession. I’ve always found it ironic that businesses are misled on their actual cost of money more than say, residential lenders, where the stated interest rate predominately equals the APR given a 365/365 amortization.

  • unbound

    @Michael Heath – It’s predatory because those banks are almost always complicit in the whole scam of reducing taxes for corporations and the rich, which creates this condition where a loan is even needed.

  • http://www.gregory-gadow.net Gregory in Seattle

    @Thumper #1 –

    Just out of interest, what essential schol supplies do teachers in the US not recieve, that they have to go out and buy for themselves? And what on Earth is the logic behind not supplying them, dare I ask?

    It has become alarmingly common “due to budget cuts” for schools and districts to no longer provide chalk, dry erase markers, planning books, pencils and the like to teachers. It is not unusual for teachers to have to pay for the photocopying of materials passed out to students out of their own pockets, and some districts require teachers to buy their own “teacher’s edition” of text books. If teachers in the lower grades (kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and such) want to do an art project, they typically must buy the paste, glitter, construction paper, etc. themselves. And you probably do not want to hear what middle and high school art, band and music teachers have to do.

    This post describes some of the problems; there are plenty more if you do a Google search.

  • D. C. Sessions

    It’s predatory because those banks are almost always complicit in the whole scam of reducing taxes for corporations and the rich, which creates this condition where a loan is even needed.

    And this comment applies to credit unions … how?

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    As long as they don’t cut the football program, amirite?

  • Olav

    Gregory #15, then again those teachers have such an easy job and are so terribly overpaid that it is only reasonable that they should give something back to the school system, right?

    Seriously though, I would not last a month as a school teacher, let alone under such circumstances. But I would not quit before I had taught the kids to sing The Internationale.

  • tfkreference

    unbound @11 writes:

    “One way you can help is by signing up your store reward cards to the poor school districts (so probably not your own)…they are truly very short on money.”

    Great idea! I’m going to change mine right now.

  • dogmeat

    For those of you asking about funding for supplies, etc., this is a summary of the survey results from a southern Arizona group that supports teachers and educational issues:

    A few highlights from the survey:

    Only 6% of teachers are completely satisfied with their job while the majority is neutral.

    Only 33% of teachers say that they are “very likely” to still be teaching in Southern Arizona in five years.

    40% of teachers are “not likely” to recommend their profession to others.

    Teachers spend on average more than $1,000 per year on classroom-related expenses out of their own pockets.

    The average full-time teacher works more than 60 hours a week on classroom instruction, preparation, grading outside of class and other required duties.

    Nearly 33% of all teachers have an additional paying job outside of the classroom.

    In the middle there you’ll see that the data suggests that the average teacher spends more than $1000 of their own money on classroom resources. This is above and beyond the fact that teacher salaries have been basically frozen for the last five years.

    For those asking what the issue is. Many states cut their education budgets when the economy tanked in ’08 and continued to do so for two or three years. Many of those states have not restored that funding after the initial cuts. Add to that, when you take out the money spent on university educations, the US drops dramatically in its ranking for educational funding.

  • magistramarla

    Yeah, I always kept my room supplied with pencils, erasers and paper for those students who never brought their own. I was not happy when I had to share my classroom with the German teacher and walked in to find my posters defaced and a big box of pencils broken and or sticking out of the ceiling. I also bought a huge supply of kleenex boxes every year.

    We had one digital projector for the department (9 Spanish teachers, 1 German teacher, 1 French teacher and me – the Latin teacher). There was one Spanish teacher who kept hogging it and when she did pass it on, it would have the bulb burned out. The school replaced the bulb once, but the next time, they refused, so I bought a new bulb. It wasn’t long before she blew that one out. I got disgusted and went to Costco and bought one for my classroom alone.

    The district paid for the bus for me to take my best Latin students to state competitions for two years, then stopped funding it. My hubby and I rented 12 passenger vans and he drove us to those competitions for five years. Of course, the district had no problem providing buses for the football team, the cheerleaders, the band (actually the band had to do some fund-raising), etc. That district has not one, but two huge stadia for football that look like they might belong to a college team. (It is Texas, of course).

    When I left the job (hubby’s job sent us out of state) the department head watched me very carefully to make sure that what I took was my own. Like someone else mentioned, I had brought in my own bookshelves, a ton of books from my own college days and bought by me while teaching, my own organizational materials, posters and bulletin board materials, etc. I also often attended conferences and workshops on my own dime and brought back books and cool teaching materials from those. I made sure to keep those!

    I was lucky that I could do all of those things, since my hubby is an electrical engineer with a nice paycheck and our kids were mostly raised by then. I truly don’t know how teachers who have young families and/or are the sole providers for their families do it.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    magistramarla “The district paid for the bus for me to take my best Latin students to state competitions for two years, then stopped funding it.”

    Serves you right for not taking your team to State. And I saw your team choke against the hated Colleyville Conju’Gators. Sure, I was a fan of your team*, but then team Latin is my country’s national sport.

     

    *. Et vade cum fatuis!

  • shay

    Marcus, that’s not how military budgets work. The big ticket items stay on the docket because they bring jobs to someone’s home district. The savings are found further down the food chain.

    As far back as 1980 I was buying toilet paper and cleaning supplies out of my own pocket so that my troops who lived in the barracks wouldn’t have to. I was not the exception, either.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=153100784 Michael Brew

    Shay @ 23

    No doubt. My unit still can’t afford little things like hand soap and paper towels, and we had to go begging other units for their old shredders, copiers, and other such supplies. But, hey, we got tons of trucks we never use and 240Bs that have never been fired off of a range.

  • Lyle

    Shit runs downhill and so do cost-saving measures, evidently.

  • Jason Baldus

    Here in Michigan, schools are funded by the state and not through property taxes, although when they moved to this system, those districts that were already collecting the big bucks from their communities continued to get the same amount, while the rest of the districts have the base amounts. This means that even if you have a community of civic-minded young families that want to pay more property tax to properly fund the school, they can’t really, except through bond issues. The state legislature controls the per pupil funding rates, and regularly cuts and cuts. My wife has spent the last dozen years as one of her schools most dedicated, hard working teachers, reaching inner-city kids by getting them involved in theatre and broadcasting. Her high standards for her students have caused them a lot of grief before they just learn that it’s better to work hard enough to meet them.

    We have bought bookshelves, paper, pencils, staplers, hole punches, power tools, costumes, paint, an air conditioner, books, and a crap-ton of scripts. She has held fundraiser after fundraiser. Two years ago, NBC’s show SMASH sponsored a contest that would help a school fund the production of a musical. She worked tirelessly to get everyone she possibly could to vote for her school. After she won the contest, she made a contact in New York who invited her students to come and participate in some workshops with Broadway composers and directors. She and her students (but mostly it was my wife) worked day and night and ended up raising $32,000 so a dozen inner-city kids could dream big.

    After the third year of 7% pay cuts and teacher concessions and an administration rendered so weak and impotent by budget cuts that they can no longer afford to support teachers with discipline issues, she is going back to school to become a therapist. Congratulations, Michigan, you’ve driven away one of your best, most dedicated teachers.

    I’m sure the Credit Union is trying to help. They clearly have realized that teachers have to pay a lot of money out of their own pocket for school supplies. However, in my experience, if a teacher can’t afford to do that, they don’t get a loan. They just don’t buy the supplies that their students need. That brown, scratchy paper towel that doesn’t soak up anything will work just fine for tissues. So dry your tears, little Timmy, it’s almost your turn to use the pencil.

  • Michael Heath

    Jason Baldus writes:

    Here in Michigan, schools are funded by the state and not through property taxes, although when they moved to this system, those districts that were already collecting the big bucks from their communities continued to get the same amount, while the rest of the districts have the base amounts. This means that even if you have a community of civic-minded young families that want to pay more property tax to properly fund the school, they can’t really, except through bond issues. The state legislature controls the per pupil funding rates, and regularly cuts and cuts.

    [Bolded by Heath]

    I now live in Michigan. I didn’t live here when the current collection and appropriation laws were passed transferring appropriation powers from local to state government. So I’m wondering if you can elaborate on what I bolded above to help be better understand how the state funds districts on a per-pupil basis that’s not the same across the board. I find that to be a clear violation by the state of MI regarding the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause but that’s a separate from my question here.

    You seem to be asserting that the differentiation in what different schools receive over the base amounts uses the same percentage rate when the bill was originally passed. So if a community has changed since the law has passed by becoming richer or more committed to increasing it’s funding towards school operations – read pupils and teachers – not infrastructure, it’s trapped in under-spending on a per-pupil basis relative to its desires. That’s if both rates (current and desired) are over the base rate; unless they pass bonds, which is how local districts optimally invest in infrastructure. Am I capturing your understanding correctly?

  • dogmeat

    So if a community has changed since the law has passed by becoming richer or more committed to increasing it’s funding towards school operations

    Not speaking specifically about Michigan, I’m not familiar with the system, but I can speak about the general impact of this part of the system because we have it here in AZ. Funding was problematic (read unconstitutional) before the current system. Individual districts paid for education through their local taxes. The flaw in the current system is that, while it is better than the previous system, the de facto situation created involves wealthy districts with high property values rather easily passing small bond overrides that increase property taxes by rather small amounts creating significant funding for their local school districts. Lower income (read lower property value) school districts have increasingly difficult times trying to accomplish overrides significantly smaller than the wealthy districts because their residents are often on the verge of financial ruin as is, let alone if they raise their own taxes, etc. So the situation returns to one where the haves continue to have and the have nots continue to do without.

    On the other end of the equation, because the general funding has been detached from local interests, the legislature can, and often does, see it as an legitimate areas for cutbacks. For some of the legislators, their own children’s schools are doing fine (because of bond overrides, etc.), so the cuts “aren’t that big of a deal,” for others they never see any reason not to cut education. You put the two together and you end up with a restoration of the old status quo. Wealthy districts have funding, poor districts do without.

    I’m in one of those wealthy districts, but I work with a program that provides training to other districts so I go out and see how the other half lives. Every teacher in my district has a laptop (I’ve been here long enough that I have two and a pair of iPads). Every room also has digital projectors, document cameras, and about half of our rooms have AppleTVs. I can do some pretty nifty things switching back and forth between powerpoints, video clips, online activities, etc. While I have a supplies budget, it has been going down every year for the last five years. All isn’t cookies and creme. We are the lowest paid district in the southern half of the state (for certain) and one of the lowest paid if not the lowest paid in the state. Teaching a 6/5, with tutoring and stipends for doing multiple additional duties, I still make $10,000 less than I’d be making on a base contract (5/5, no add’l duties) in my former district out of state. But I’m in a situation where my job is a lot more challenging and a lot more rewarding (for me personally) than it would be with more money but less material support. My state is one of the lowest for teacher salaries in general, and ranked in the bottom 3 on almost every national ranking system, so even without having seen it first hand (which I have) I know that there are teachers in other districts who don’t make much money, have overwhelming challenges, and have no resources.

    It shouldn’t be a situation where teachers have to choose between benefits that make it feasible for them to survive while doing their jobs and the material support that makes doing that job possible, but that is what we see. As a nation we claim to value education, but we see through ample evidence, that really isn’t the truth. We value the idea of education, but the nuts and bolts application of education? Nope, nosiree, don’t value that one bit.

  • Michael Heath

    dogmeat writes:

    As a nation we claim to value education, but we see through ample evidence, that really isn’t the truth. We value the idea of education, but the nuts and bolts application of education? Nope, nosiree, don’t value that one bit.

    I think there are pockets within the country that do value education. So not only can we benchmark best practices in other countries, but certain regions here in the U.S. as well. I do agree from a national outcome level we suck and it’s largely due to voter apathy from non-conservatives and antipathy from conservatives. One reason, of many, that I left the GOP was that they’d become committed to policies that harm educative outcomes, at all levels, from pre-school through Ph.D programs.

    Just like climate scientists, I think teachers do a very poor job of communicating what the facts are required to develop an informed populace on optimal results; and to better keep politicians in the line of fire when they propose polices that we can be confident will harm results. However I also realize this might not work for two reasons:

    1) One is that the GOP is very good at keeping its voting base focused on litmus test issues and ignorning what they’re doing in other areas, like education, energy, and taxes. We see that when it comes to their obstruction of progressive tax rates that promote growth and a manageable debt load. (Though as you know, I don’t see an increase in progressive tax rates as an optimal approach vs. VAT/Consumption taxation, only the most popular feasible approach.)

    2) I don’t see teachers sufficiently competent and committed to best results, and and national-level communications by teacher groups are embarrassingly bad. E.g., sloppy thinking, a perspective more in line with old-time union rhetoric (“what’s in it for us”) than a modern-day results-focused emphasis. However, this national defect is not true in all areas of the States; a few years ago a state teacher’s union in IL or IN put some agreements together with their state that emphasized results which will result in better compensation and a better quality teacher as well. (They have to since we already know better results require better-quality, better-compensated teachers; among other things – like significant improvements to infrastructure.)

    If my premise regarding how teachers needs to change is true, than we need more funding. So this is a potential catch-22, we require better quality teaches to better communicate what’s needed, but we can’t get better quality teachers unless we do a better job training them and paying them, which requires more funding. So from this perspective I’d say teachers need to do a far better job hiring lobbyists. Not to directly promote the interests of teachers, but instead educative outcomes. I think that will in turn improve compensation and work-life for teachers and teaching .

  • Nihilismus

    @21 magistramarla

    Yeah, I always kept my room supplied with pencils, erasers and paper for those students who never brought their own. I was not happy when I had to share my classroom with the German teacher and walked in to find my posters defaced and a big box of pencils broken and or sticking out of the ceiling.

    After resharpening the broken pencils, the number you had doubled. That’s some cost-saving advice for teachers that you can take to the bank!

    Speaking of banks, you could also go to the bank and stock up on free pens!

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