Why we pay out of pocket for classroom stuff.

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by Chalk, Aug 7, 2010.

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  1. taryn_liz

    taryn_liz Rookie

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    Aug 8, 2010

    My school only provides $100 each year to teachers, and that doesn't cover nearly the amount that I needed to spend this year as a second year teacher (last year I didn't get any money!). They want our classrooms to look cheery and bright, and somewhat follow the theme the school has for that year. I spend the money because I want my room to be the best it can be.
     
  2. msmullenjr

    msmullenjr Devotee

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    In my area no one is expected to buy materials for their students. I have NEVER had a parent ask me to buy things for their kids. I have, on the other hand, had parents who recently lost their jobs, are temporarily homeless, or recently separated/divorced. Hard times fall on people from time to time and those parents are so grateful for the little help that I give, that when they are able to help... they are the first (sometimes only) ones to pick up a thing or two from my wish list.

    TeacherNY, my sister cannot afford to buy school supplies this year. She is going through a divorce right now. Her ex decided in March not to pay child support for their 4 kids anymore. When she filled out the paper work to get his wages garnished, he stopped going to work and got himself fired. She is a substitute teacher so obviously work is scarce during the summer. Luckily for her, I can afford her supplies. Not every family can say that. It isn't always a matter of deal with it, or don't have any.
     
  3. Mrs Ski

    Mrs Ski Companion

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    Aug 8, 2010

    My father is a mechanic. He works for Nestle. He owns and maintains his own tools at work. He has a separate set at home. When he leave Nestle he will take them with him.


    Now my own story- we have a quite large school supply budget at my school. I could probably get away with never spending my own money. But it is easier/ faster/ and somewhat enjoyable to purchase my own. While teaching is my job it is also my hobby. I spend free time on A to Z after all. :)

    I expect 100% of students to come with school supplies, and yet I have purchased a green folder for every student (so that it will be ready for them) and 2 composition books. I bought them because they weren't on the supply list and it was something i wanted them to have. I didn't have my new idea until after the supply list went out, and I had one set cut in half for morning work. (not something the average parent is going to do)
     
  4. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    Aug 8, 2010

    To be honest, I could get by without buying a single thing out of pocket. However, the items make my job easier and/or make learning more fun or effective for the kids, so I buy it. If it ever came down to making a big impact on my personal finance, I would stop. I have spent quite a bit over the last several years of getting my classroom started and now I don't spend all that much at all.
     
  5. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    I have bought things for the classroom like things to hang on the wall, paint, books, CDs, etc. They benefit the whole class. Our school gives us money each year but they it is for materials having to do with curriculum or classroom organizational items. There is no extra money for crayons, pencils, or supplies for each kid to be kept at their desk. If we put those items on our supply acquisition forms they will be denied.
     
  6. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    My husband is a research & development engineer. His company buys tools, but he has to do the work and they don't buy the top quality stuff he wants, so he buys his own tools. When he leaves the company, his tools come with him. Everyone wants to use his tools but he keeps them for himself because they are his.

    Anyway... I'm sorry to hear about all the schools with no budget and parents not being able or willing to pay... and pretty shocked about California's constitution saying all of education should be free, including all extra curriculars and materials. My district (K-12) has a parent group that fundraises and asks for a minimum of $600 per student every year! Part of that money goes for general supplies, so kids don't bring in crayons, etc, but still.
     
  7. Harper

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    Aug 8, 2010

    That must be really hard for you!
    I should clarify, I was considering that "generally" it can be hard to bargain shop (thinking of some of my students and their parents with multiple jobs, no cars, etc.). I am very fortunate that I have a working vehicle and time off in the summer. So, I think about those challenges when I am at the stores with great bargains, and I buy extra for those who might need it.
     
  8. demijasmom

    demijasmom Companion

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    Aug 8, 2010

    I'm not required to buy anything. I buy it because I want to. Sometimes I want a certain kind of folder or color so I buy it myself.
     
  9. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Aug 8, 2010

    I am going to chose my words very carefully here, because I am extremely upset and offended by some of the comments on this thread. I am offended both as a former inner city teacher who watched the struggles of parents living in poverty and as a parent who has "been there".

    I am the daughter of an extremely wealthy engineer. I grew up going to a school who's tuition, in kindergarten, was more than many Ivy League colleges. I married a well off man. When I had my kids, I could afford a Christian Dior and Ralph Lauren layette. Going to Target to get basic household supplies was "embarrassing", and I would never have dreamed of setting foot inside of Wal-Mart.

    Last year, I was living on $700 a month, and couldn't afford to feed my kids, let alone buy school supplies. I was grateful that the teachers and the school were there to help me out in providing for my kids what I could not provide for them. I suppose I should be more grateful than I was, since I did not realize that I shouldn't have had my kids according to some of you.

    I am also offended by the idea that only "certain" people should have the right to have kids, or have those kids educated. This utopian world where everybody is middle class, and nobody lives in poverty will never exist. There will always be those who are worse off. Should those people be denied the right to have kids, simply because they're poor? What defines "too poor" to have kids? Who gets to make that choice?

    Now, are there "entitled" parents out there? Sure. That's upsetting, and should be dealt with through education and referrals to social service organizations. Should schools be paying for more of the basic necessities of running a classroom? Absolutely! There's no reason I should have to pay out of pocket for the basic stuff, but what I consider basic, if very, very basic. I don't need fancy interactive white boards and other technology. I need a place for students to sit, something to write on, and something to write with. Books would be nice too, but I can do without those.

    To answer the original question, should teachers spend their own money? Maybe. Much of what we buy is extra, stuff to make our lives easier. We want a particular color and type of notebook. We want a particular brand of dry erase markers. Is the school providing something, even if it's not our preference? Then yes, buy it yourself.
     
  10. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Aug 8, 2010

    mmswn,

    Your post was excellent (and showed a lot of self-control). I totally agree on several points. We all need to be more thoughtful about those who are struggling and not think it is because they are lazy, drug addicted, whatever - we need to have respect for all - and realize those kids need our support even more. There are a lot of reasons for poverty and no matter the reason the children need our help if they are going to climb out of that hole. The schools should be able to provide basic supplies for students (note I said schools - not teachers).

    Finally, yes, I buy things without reservation because it will make my life easier, because I want something better than is being provided, because I want to, because I think it will enrich the lives of the children I serve. When I resent spending money is when I think it is basic stuff the school should provide (or the superintendant just got a big raise and my supply budget was cut and I haven't had a raise in 3 years.)

    Good luck to us all this year.
     
  11. demijasmom

    demijasmom Companion

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    Aug 8, 2010

    mmswm
    I agree with you on several points. I don't have much money myself, but I do what I can. There are people who are worst off. I knew foing into this profession was going to have out of pocket expenses.
     
  12. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Aug 8, 2010

    I'll also add that because I don't have any kids of my own, I do consider my students my 'babies'. So I tend to spend on them the way some parents might on their own children. And since I have such a small class, it's easier to think of creative, expensive, ideas. ;)
     
  13. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 8, 2010

    mm. thank you for putting my thoughts into words.
     
  14. Chalk

    Chalk Companion

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    Aug 8, 2010

    Well the response to this topic has been very insightful. Thanks to all who responded.

    the more I think on it...

    Well I don't share the hostility directed towards parents who can't afford school supplies, I do know (at least around here) that we have many programs and charities that will provide limited school supplies.

    THE thing that occurred to me is a question.

    Am I a good enough, effective enough teacher to be able to teach history using only a notebook and a pen?

    I know we all want to be creative in the way we set up class and teach using a variety of supplies to promote organization and inspiration. However in this "economically dark period" of education can we do it without all the stuff we wish we could have. After all our predecessors from way back were able to do it with a black board and a slate for each kid. Have we lost some of that skill or is do to the more dynamic level of knowledge and the shear volume of data we need tot teach to our students?
     
  15. ChemTeachBHS

    ChemTeachBHS Comrade

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    Aug 8, 2010

    I am not expected to buy anything for my classroom but I do. I stock up on supplies when they are cheap in the summer. Gotta love those Staples penny sales. Why do I spend my own money you ask? Because it makes my life easier.
     
  16. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Aug 8, 2010

    Chalk...where there's a will, there's a way. Do I want to teach with only a notebook and a pen? No. It's not nearly as much fun as teaching with all the bells and whistles. Can I do it? Yes. I've actually taught with less.

    As a math teacher, I'm my extended family's "go to" person. I have taught over the phone, with nothing but my voice. I can do even that effectively. How do I do that? Sometimes, I'm not sure. I know I'm confident enough in my ability to teach, and I'm aware of the limitations, and points of difficulty students might have. I have endless patience to explain and re-explain, in as many different ways as I have to in order to get a point across. I have enough experience to know when something's working and when it's not.

    I have learned, because I DID teach in a school with limited resources, how to be creative with the supplies I did have. One of my most popular lessons involves soda cans...somebody else's trash. It cost me nothing but the time it took to gather and clean the cans. I've learned how to (sort of) draw, because I knew, if i wanted a graphic representation I would have to produce it myself.

    So, to answer your last question, the one about being good enough to do it with just a pen and paper? How much do you want it? If you want it, you'll figure it out. If you don't want it, then you won't.
     
  17. teacherheath

    teacherheath Companion

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    I have never been asked to buy stuff for my classroom, by parents or admin. I do it because I'm able to and it makes my life easier and honestly, makes me feel good in some circumstances. For instance, last year I had a little boy in my class come to school w/out supplies. His mom explained that she had just lost her job and it would be a week or 2 before she was able to get him supplies. You could tell she was stressed out about it but wanted the best for her son. When I told her not to worry about it, that I had extras of everything, she was so grateful and relieved. And really, I'm betting the supplies were under $3. The tissues, glue, etc. we use are all pooled in a community stash. Thankfully, most parents are able/willing to bring in stuff, and some extras, so it hasn't been an issue. As for the decorative stuff, I spend a lot of time at school. Once I decided to do some things like add curtains and focus on some extra stuff, I realized it made my time there more enjoyable.
     
  18. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    A little off topic but I'm trying to find this in the CA constitution and I'm having trouble. Only things I've found were:
    SEC. 5. The Legislature shall provide for a system of common
    schools by which a free school shall be kept up and supported in each
    district at least six months in every year, after the first year in
    which a school has been established.

    SEC. 7.5. The State Board of Education shall adopt textbooks for
    use in grades one through eight throughout the State, to be furnished
    without cost as provided by statute.

    http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/.const/.article_9

    I was told too that AZ has a "free education" which means we cannot require parents to buy supplies but I have yet to find that in our constitution or written laws either. The only things it states in ours is that public school is "free" in which it goes on to explain that we cannot charge a tuition. Heck, if we can require uniforms at our school why is our principal so stuck on not requiring school supplies? :rolleyes:

    And yes, mechanics DO have to purchase their own tools. My bf had to do that when he worked for Ford.
     
  19. BCPMWK

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    Aug 8, 2010

    This is our second year with no teacher supply money. At our school, teachers must supply everything from bulletin board paper/decs to copy paper to Expo markers. I put a "wish list" on my syllabus in case parents want to help me out with supplies (copy paper, Kleenex, GermX), and the students supply their own notebooks, paper, pens, pencils. I buy markers and other stuff, and I sometimes make an appeal to the students to look for the items we use often and get them if possible ("If any of you see note cards on sale this week, remember that we've got the research unit coming up. Pick up a pack or two to donate if you can...insert winning smile here..."), and I've had some nice donations this way. Sometimes the ones who couldn't afford to donate at the beginning of the year because they had so many things to buy can get something a little later on. Our school secretary (and others) work hard each year to get some donations for the beginning of school to give to the teachers. We get a few reams of paper and a little sack of pens, Expos, post-its and whatnot. Some schools, especially elementary schools have PTOs that provide paper for the teachers, but high school PTO groups tend to be less active around here. In the past, I used my classroom supply money mostly for books for my classroom library, and I really miss that money when I see a new YA title that I know will be a hit. I do think that the system is a bit unfair. I don't know many companies that make their employees furnish their own copy paper or pens, but such is the life of a teacher. I'm sure that many of the people who don't pay for supplies wish that they only had to pay half of their health care premiums!
     
  20. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    I decided that this year I am not buying anything out of pocket anymore. I don't feel like the kids appreciate it and I regularly find my supplies broken and vandalized. So I am just not doing it anymore.

    Anytime I find a pencil on the floor I put it in the cup. It is usually full. The school usually provides some notebook paper so I will put that out for kids. It's usually like pulling teeth but I can usually get enough tissues donated. At the end of the year, I get the kids to put their old binders in the back closet. At the beginning of the year, anyone who wants one can take one.

    My exceptions are things that make my life easier (like I have to buy staples from Staples or they will clog my high-powered stapler, or the pens I like for grading.) And if I knew a kid had a real need, I would make sure they had some basics.

    I DO by the 70 sheet single subject notebooks for the kids when they are really cheap. Then when a kid needs paper, I will sell them the notebook for 25 cents. I throw the quarter in my desk for when kids need lunch money or when I need a soda.
     
  21. demijasmom

    demijasmom Companion

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    To the poster who wasn't sure if they'll be effective to teach with just a notebook and a pen, to me that is what an effective teacher does, use what they have to teach. There are plenty of resources out here, seek out teachers who have been teaching the subject you are getting ready to teach. Check out your local library.
     
  22. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    I teach preschool. I've changed school and distritcts several times in the past few years... I'd rather know that the manipulatives I need to teach my lessons will be there, so I buy them myself sometimes rather than using school money... that way, when I change schools, those things come with me. My school has a $250 reimbursement if we bring in receipts... I typically use that for things like ingredients for our cooking projects, art supplies, or other things that I know will get used up. I buy other things because it's fun, and because then I know that i get what I want. I want specific things for my classroom (large crayons, no-run glue, large pencils...), and I'm also particular on brands (elmer's, crayola...) with some things, because the other items don't work as well. I've found that it's much easier for me to get what I want than try to describe to the parents which items it is.

    I did a big supply/toy order at the end of the school year... and although we still had money left from our grant, I refuse to buy things like glue sticks, crayons, and markers at teh rediculous prices in the catalogue when I can get them for a quarter or a dollar over the summer... I'll likely turn those receipts in, but even if I don't I'm out a total of maybe $10-$20...

    Could i get away with not buying stuff? Sure, but it makes my life easier and my classes more interesting and appropriate.
     
  23. SunnyReader

    SunnyReader Companion

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    Effective teachers can teach regardless of their "decorations". I do not have a lot of teacher-bought decorations in my room; I find them to be expensive and dust-collectors.

    The deabte seems to be that teachers want their rooms to look nice without spending money. This week, I have been working on some bulletin boards. All together I have spend $4. This is enough for 3 bulletin boards. I like my boards to be functional and pretty at the same time. :)

    I have spent about $150 this summer, but I am reimbursed $110, so I count this as a success!
     
  24. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    clarnet,

    What "no-run glue?" I want it - I need it. I have to have it!

    Thanks
     
  25. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Hmm. My school has zero budget for teacher supplies for the coming school year. They have provided me with a room (including white board and bulletin boards), desks, and books.

    We are not allowed to require students to contribute anything that could be considered "communal" - no tissues, hand sanitizer, paper towels, etc. We may only require what they, personally, will use.

    I am required to decorate my room. When we did have a budget, my school would gladly have allowed me to order posters, borders, decorations, etc. Since they would have been ordered with the school's money, they would belong to the school - not me. So I purchased my own decorations.

    I could require students to bring scissors, markers, glue... but I also know they eventually lose them. I know that for many of my students, even the penny and dollar sales are just too expensive and they will ONLY purchase the absolute necessities.

    I also know that my school makes sure that every. single. child. has the basics - pen, pencil, paper, calculator - and that these items are provided free, in such a way that the child is not embarrassed by receiving them. I'll gladly give up my budget this year is it means the secret store keeps operating... even if I have to spend a little more out of pocket.
     
  26. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    I have never been required to buy supplies, but bought things because I want my classroom to look nice. I have been through periods where i didn't have a problem with buying things, and periods where I was sick of it. I taught at a Title 1, high needs school. It bothered me that the parents had enough money to buy their kids Gatorade and hot Cheetos (the jumbo bag) but I had to buy their supplies.
     
  27. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    :thumb: This happens A LOT at my school!
     
  28. Bumble

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    I bought 90% of my supplies during the penny sales. I was given 2-10 packs of pencils last year and I had 26 students! My classroom is not fancy. I don't use themes in my room. I refuse to use all of my money on things that the school should give us. I spend too much as it is. It should be illegal that I have to spend so much of my own money.
     
  29. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    I finally banned hot cheetos after I had the fourth kid vomit after eating them during lunch, and then running around on the playground. Their little tummies just couldn't take the hot cheetos.
     
  30. msmullenjr

    msmullenjr Devotee

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    It doesn't need to be illegal, if you don't want to spend it... Don't.
     
  31. minimar1

    minimar1 Rookie

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    I have NEVER been asked to buy anything. I work for a large school district and I am provided with enough materials to do my job. However, I buy stuff on my own mainly for a huge reason: because my life becomess easier and that is priceless....
     
  32. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    First, a bit of background.... I have been a single, struggling mom on foodstamps. I have had Christmases when I had $20 to spend on my daughter. I have also been blessed with a wonderful husband who has provided a stable income so that I could return to school and become a teacher (and spend all my money :)). That being said...

    I have never been asked to purchase anything (other than PTA membership). Our contract says nothing about spending earned income on classroom supplies or decor. I HAVE been EXPECTED to supply things for students. I have taught and now teach in (my second) Title I, 100% free lunch/breakfast school. I have voluntarily purchased supplies for my students (utilizing the summer sales) to ensure that they had what they needed (including uniforms on occasion). The only time I have become angry is when a mom expected me to supply her child with all supplies, free of charge. At my first school, of 17 students, 2 brought supplies. At my current school, last year, of 18 students, TWELVE brought supplies, and several parents re-stocked different items through the year. Same socio-economic status as the first school. Different values.

    Oh, and just a point of clarification. School supplies cannot be purchased with food stamps. Mt. Dew/Gatorade and hot Cheetoh's can, and they are among the cheapest food items in the store.

    (My pet peeve, though, is when the student/parent wears $200 shoes but can't get supplies. Heck, I don't wear $200 shoes!)
     
  33. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Both of my brothers are mechanics. They both own their own tools. It was a requirement for the job. My mom had to help my brother buy tools when he had just graduated college.

    I agree it's sad that parents buy these things for their children. But they buy them because it's cheap and they can get more food this way.


    I work in a title one school and have great parents. I had parents last year that would donate what ever item I needed. I realized towards the end of the year, they didn't even have enough money to buy clothing for their children but they bought me school supplies. My mom and I bought the child some summer outfits. And I talked to the guidance counselor and she put out an email and a lot of the teachers bought an outfit. This including fall clothing. So the children should be all set to start school this fall in new cloths.

    I do buy some school supplies but most of them are provided by parents or bought with school budget money.
     
  34. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    I so agree with your pet peeve, pwhatley. My pet peeve is the parent that will come to school with her nails done with different colors and stones each week. She also has matching toe nails, but she doesn't have money for her child's lunch or supplies.
     
  35. Marci07

    Marci07 Devotee

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    I am not required to buy supplies but I buy things for my classroom to make things eaiser for me.
     
  36. jday129

    jday129 Comrade

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    If I didn't buy things with my own money my students would not have:
    pencils, crayons, scissors, markers, glue, folders etc. (We are not allowed to send home supply list)
    books for independent reading or read alouds
    baskets to put books in
    anything on the walls (since I have to buy all adhesives)
    etc.
    So sure, I am not required to buy any of these things but my classroom would be pretty empty if I didn't.
    We are given $250/year for supplies, but it all has to be ordered in April and I find it hard to predict what I will need for the entire year on one day. Plus if you switch buildings as I have done 3 times in 5 years, you don't get any of the items you ordered.
     
  37. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    That's the only problem I have. When it's expected. Not a parent calling and saying they can't bring in something for whatever reason, asking if there's some way they can get the supplies from the school cheaper/for free. There could be teachers who are single parents and have no extra money to use for the classroom. Just because we are teachers with a job doesn't mean we have unlimited funds.
     
  38. Bumble

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    Aug 9, 2010

    I get $100 a year from the district. Also, I can claim up to $250 on my taxes. I try to keep spending under $350.
     
  39. gpsysngbrd

    gpsysngbrd Companion

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    Aug 9, 2010

    If youre like me its not that your school won't its that you have this GREAT idea and you know what you want to do so you make sure you have everything!
     
  40. dizzykates

    dizzykates Habitué

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    Aug 9, 2010

    I am not required to buy anything, but as a team a standard has been set to do a three or four "cutesy" art projects each year and no matter how many times I ask parts to send glitter, googly eyes or popsicle sticks, they never send all of it. Do I enjoy these particular projects or think they have tons of educational value? Not really, but it would look bad if I was the only one on a 5 person team not particpating. For that reason, I stick to spending my own money on things that will be noticed if I don't participate. We only get $50/year for supplies and that goes to glue, construction paper, paint and pencils. I still need board markers, chalk, containers to hold things, etc and sometimes I just go without.
     
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