Wanted: pencils

If you want to learn more about the conditions in some Oakland schools, you need only pay a visit to DonorsChoose.org, or other sites on which teachers post their wish lists. Here are two excerpts I came across today, from different schools:

“There have always been shortages of pencils and crayons in the school district I work for. The upcoming $800 cut per student will make our situation even more dire. Without materials like pencils, notebooks, folders or a stapler, our class will not be able to function.”

This one was particularly vivid:

“The gray carpet is covered from years of stains, and there are large 2 foot by 8 foot patches where the rug has come apart entirely and reveals the underlay beneath. A new rug would help my students to take greater pride in their classroom and brighten their surroundings.”

The requests on DonorsChoose range from notebooks and art supplies to costly equipment, such as a $1,000 LCD projector screen and a digital camera. I ran a search for Oakland and came up with 80 entries (some might be posted more than once).

Many of the posts are thoughtful and personal. One teacher writes:

“Everyday in first grade is rigorous and packed to the brim with literacy, math, social studies, and science. We work hard and everyday is filled with new and exciting material. When a week is done and it is Friday afternoon we want to let our kids decompress and just be kids.

With watercolors we can do this! Can you picture it now? The lights are dimmed, jazz music is faintly playing in the background, and each child has a watercolor set and is deeply focused on their creation. Beautiful! When the pieces are completed we will have a gallery walk and give feedback to one another on our work, learning how to give construct criticism while building classroom community.”

Oakland schools did make significant cuts to their supplies money as a result of the district’s shrinking budget. In what ways is that affecting the classroom?

Teachers: How many kids show up to school in the fall without notebooks or pencils? Are the donors coming through?

image from aaron13251’s site at flickr.com/creativecommons

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Vicki Solomon

    As my kids go off to college and I start down-sizing, I wish there was a way to give the stuff to teachers who would use it. Books, toys, art supplies, children’s software, etc.