Back in April of 2011 I posted this:
"I thought folks might be interested to know how much we are spending on supplies for next year. I've been teaching for nearly 25 years so I've seen a lot but I've never seen a supply order allotment this small. Each year we are given a set amount we can spend and a supply list to pick items from. The county then orders our supplies and they are waiting for us when we return in August. I'm talking about pens, pencils, paper, paper clips, crayons, markers, pencil sharpeners, file folders, construction paper, rulers, index card and the like. I think when I started teaching we had around $120-140 to spend. This year we had $50 to spend. I got some red and black pens, a few #2's, some sticky notes, and a couple of dozen rulers and it was gone!
As a county we rank in the bottom 15% of the 115 lea's in local per pupil spending and as a state we rank 46th in the nation in per pupil spending. I haven't had a raise in three years and my advanced degree and board certification pay is being threatened. My school is already overcrowded and class sizes are set to increase even more next year. I don't have any money to chip in for what we don't have without hurting my own family."
Two years later we aren't getting any supply allotment at all. Teachers just go to the secretary and ask if there is any ___________ in the supply room. I didn't have a tape dispenser all year. There just weren't any left. I did get some paper clips though! I'll go to Wal Mart before school starts and load up on paper, pencils, pens, and composition books. When the electric pencil sharpener I bought this year breaks ( they don't last long when 100 or so 13 year olds are using it every day ), I'll head back to Staples.
My rural county is still near the bottom in spending while we need at least 4 new schools to relieve overcrowding. My school in particular is at 140% of capacity. About 400 children (1/3 of the student body) will be in a hut (they are falling apart) next year. County Commissioners have made it clear that they will not fund building schools. We are getting one built from a near zero percent interest rate loan that was the last of the (failed???) stimulus program. It killed the tea party county commissioners to take that loan, but they did.
This is the fifth year of the pay raise freeze, though we did get 1% once during this period. This means that fifth year teachers are making the same as first year teachers. Two of the 14 grade level teachers at my school left mid-year to take jobs in neighboring counties with larger supplements. One way teachers have been able to stay in the profession despite low pay is through obtaining their master's in education and / or National Board Certification. A master's will get you a 10% pay increase and NBCT will get you an additional 12%. I am fortunate that I will be grandfathered in but if the GA has their way no future teachers will be able to increase their salary by earning a master's. I have a friend that will be completing his next summer and he will not be so lucky. I expect the GA will go after NBC next year and possibly try and take away the grandfather clause as well. Who knows with these radicals?
Can anyone tell me how you encourage teachers to stay in the profession, stay in low or no supplement counties, and improve their skills in this environment? How do you convince college students to major in education? How do you convince a veteran teacher to go on and teach beyond 30 years?
Sorry for the rant, but I feel better now. :)