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Wed Apr 4, 2018, 12:50 AM

Should teachers stop spending their own personal funds on classroom supplies?

I am not a teacher. I am not a parent. Just want to make sure that my opinions are based as someone without a personal stake (other than the mutual benefit of living in a society with well educated children who grow up to be productive members of society).

A common comment I have heard throughout all the teacher strikes and comes up every time ther is talk of public school funding is how much personal money teachers spend on classroom supplies.

And it's almost always teachers who can't really afford to do this and almost always in schools that are (imo) negligently underfunded.

I get the reasoning: teachers, for the vast majority, are caring compassionate people who aren't in the profession for fame and fortune. They see a need and want kids ... who through no fault of their own cannot afford basics..to have the tools necessary to learn.

Hearing that some schools ration paper...ffs..is crazy.

But the problem is, once you start spending your own money 1) you are in essence lessening your take home pay 2) setting a precedent to continue spending your own money 3) putting other teachers in an awkward position of being expected to do the same.

If every teacher says fuck this rationing paper bullshit, I'm bringing my own cuz Costco has a sale..then pretty soon the lawmakers are gonna say...see we don't need to put that in the budget.

GOP has no problem holding kids, basic necessities like supplies, school lunch, etc hostage and threatening to defund because they know progressives will cave. They know that good people don't want to see the kids suffer for the sins of the "adults" and will continue to fill the gap.

This isn't sustainable and everyone suffers: kids, parents, teachers, those of us without kids still live in a world where they will be our next generation of leaders and it benefits us all to have them well prepared.

I know teachers will say that if they don't spend their own money, their classroom will suffer. But when I worked as a cashier - I didn't have to provide register tape and grocery bags, as a waitress I didn't have to buy silverware for my guests, I wouldn't expect nurses to use their own funds for bandages, needles, or gauze. When I worked for a nonprofit battered women's shelter I would make anonymous donations feminine supplies when we ran low but I wasn't expected to provide the bedding or office furniture. No other profession puts the onus on providing basics tools of the job on the employee like teaching does.

Teachers do it because they care, I get it. I 100% understand and know in my heart I would probably do the same. But the big picture developing from watching the coverage of teacher strikes is that now school boards and politicians are basically budgeting with the expectation that teachers will personally fill the gaps.

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Reply Should teachers stop spending their own personal funds on classroom supplies? (Original post)
nadine_mn Apr 2018 OP
tblue37 Apr 2018 #1
Angry Dragon Apr 2018 #2
chillfactor Apr 2018 #3
nadine_mn Apr 2018 #9
pazzyanne Apr 2018 #16
mercuryblues Apr 2018 #25
appalachiablue Apr 2018 #12
Le Gaucher Apr 2018 #4
FarCenter Apr 2018 #21
dembotoz Apr 2018 #23
markpkessinger Apr 2018 #5
nadine_mn Apr 2018 #7
markpkessinger Apr 2018 #10
nadine_mn Apr 2018 #13
leftofcool Apr 2018 #6
nadine_mn Apr 2018 #11
Paka Apr 2018 #8
Victor_c3 Apr 2018 #17
Victor_c3 Apr 2018 #14
MyOwnPeace Apr 2018 #30
DFW Apr 2018 #15
Throck Apr 2018 #18
Lee-Lee Apr 2018 #19
janterry Apr 2018 #28
Lee-Lee Apr 2018 #31
Sancho Apr 2018 #20
AllaN01Bear Apr 2018 #22
mcar Apr 2018 #24
Ferrets are Cool Apr 2018 #26
janterry Apr 2018 #27
lkinwi Apr 2018 #29
Abu Pepe Apr 2018 #32

Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 01:12 AM

1. K&R for visibility. nt

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 01:19 AM

2. Never work

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 02:01 AM

3. I was a teacher for 30 years...

at both the K-12 and university environments. While I understand your concern about "expectations that teachers will personally fill the gaps" you have to understand that I could not teach w/o the supplies students need to learn. I cannot count the times I dug into my own pocket to make sure the supplies I needed to teach, the supplies student needed to learn, and the satisfaction I felt when the light bulbs went off in students eyes when they caught on to a concept that would not have understood w/o the supplies I bought. Maybe you don't understand that but I do. If I had to do it all over again....I would.

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Response to chillfactor (Reply #3)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 03:33 AM

9. I do understand. I truly do. I used my own funds for supplies

for kids and women at the shelters I worked at. I get it.

But I also understand that the more you give, the more the politicians will take and assume you will keep giving.

At what point are you paying more to teach than being paid to teach?

What if your co-teacher cannot afford to spend their own personal money on supplies for THEIR classroom - the teachers selling plasma, working second jobs, going to food banks. Will you also supply their students? What about the next school district - the one that can only have school 4 days out of 5?

I understand that feeling of "they need this more than me". You have no idea how much I get it.

What I am seeing play out is something has to give - teachers cannot sustain the burden of buying classroom supplies, provide lunch for students but now it is become less of something teachers do in emergency situations but more and more expected of them. It is not fair to the teachers, it is not fair to the kids. And I know parents cannot afford the ever growing lists of school supplies that teachers need to keep the class running and help supply for the year.

At some point teachers will be paying for the lights and gas to run the electricity in the school.

(I have a feeling somewhere that is already happening)

I am NOT saying make the children suffer and withhold your funds for yourself.

But this business model of the teachers paying thousands of dollars of their own money (when they can't afford to) to do their job shows how little we value our children, their education, the people we trust to educate them.

I don't know how to show those in power what would happen if you stopped using your money.

There was a great movie called "A Day Without A Mexican" that showed how life would be if all the immigrants just poofed disappeared.

The sad thing is if every teacher stopped using their money, no one but the kids would suffer - and they are the last ones that should.

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Response to nadine_mn (Reply #9)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 04:00 AM

16. I worked as a classroom teacher for 20 years...

and, yes, I was one of those teachers who bought supplies using my own money to do so. The school where I taught let teachers go without raises or contracts for 4 years which put us in the position of being one of the first 3 schools in Minnesota to go out on strike. (Thank god for teacher unions!) Things did improve after 2 weeks on a 53 degree below 0 wind chill experience. With a change in administration a few years later (superintendent) things went from bad to worse. I gave up and left teaching as did 3 others teachers and the elementary principal the same year I left. I wasn't the first to leave nor was I the last. Teaching is a hard job that most people do not realize. No matter how much you love teaching, your students, and the community you live in, things become overwhelming, so change needs to happen to keep you healthy. My fellow teachers and I could not bring about change, so those of us that could moved and many of those out of teaching altogether. I went on to teach in other venues because I loved what I did in my public school classroom. I do appreciate your thoughts and input.

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Response to nadine_mn (Reply #9)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 09:12 AM

25. I often thought of this

when I had 3 kids in school at the same time. The list of supplies and classroom fees. Yes, send a check in and the fee varies from $15 - 68. How in the hell do parents who can't afford this do it? It cost me almost $200.

Right wing parents do not see that if they paid more taxes this cost would be spread out, eliminating that expense from their household budget. Pretty much they pay an extra 10 in taxes every year funding the schools for this, saving $60 because they don't have to buy it themselves. Maybe even the endless fundraisers would stop.

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Response to chillfactor (Reply #3)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 03:43 AM

12. Thanks for your input, very helpful. I understand how teachers

are unable to do their job without necessary supplies, even if they have to pay for materials themselves. That was similar to my experience at a museum education position and for several relatives longtime in the teaching profession.

As to cutting into teachers take home pay, the biggest culprit now seems to be out of pocket health insurance payments, one of the main grievances of the W.Va. teachers who had just seen a huge increase in their premium costs that the state is now trying to address.

Oklahoma teachers are among the lowest paid nationally and OK was the hardest hit state in austerity measures and budget cuts anywhere in the US after the 2008 financial crisis. As a result many teachers left, a brain drain phenomenon also occurring in other low income paying states.

Teaching is a non partisan matter and it's in our best interest to value, compensate and retain good teachers who are committed to doing their jobs and teaching kids who are the future. It's essential.

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 02:47 AM

4. I also think the teachers use too much paper.

 

Every day my daughter(1st grade) comes home with tons of paper craft .she cuts up so much paper it's not funny.

I am sure there are ways to teach without using so much paper.

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Response to Le Gaucher (Reply #4)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 07:20 AM

21. Teachers should not spend their money on supplies.

 

When I went to school, the schools supplied books, workbooks, and a very sparing amount of construction paper.

Parents were responsible for equipping their children with writing tablets, pencils, crayons, glue, rulers, etc.

Each piece of paper was used from edge to edge, front and back. You learned frugality that way.

And it wouldn't be a bad idea to teach respect for the environment and curtail the destruction of the forests by school paper consumption.

It also releases a lot of CO2 to make paper, and the process is very polluting.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #21)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 08:46 AM

23. wife works in an inner city school...kids parents don't have the money for stuff like that

they just don't.

so supply lists come back unfilled and what are you supposed to do? let the kid sit in the dark cause their mom did not send them with a pencil?

we keep track of what she spends every year...you can deduct a whopping 250 on taxes....doesn't cover shit.

i have an llc...she sees what i can deduct and she goes ballistic....every damn year.....she asks the tax guy why she can not incorporate and get the deductions i do...Every year, he pats her on the head and says...no you can't.

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 02:56 AM

5. The asumption behind your post seems to be that . ..

. . . if teachers stopped doing this, it would force politicians to come up with funding. But of course, that assumes that the politicians in question give a shit in the first place . . . and I'm not all sure that is the case. Some do, obviously, but it's a question of whether enough of them do to come up with what is needed. So basically, you are putting teachers in a position of taking a principled stand on this issue, which may result in students being harmed and nothing being done about it, or doing what they can for the students. I mean, it's utterly inexcusable that they are even in such a position, but that doesn't change the reality of the fact that they are indeed in such a position.

All in all, your post treads uncomfortably close to victim blaming for me.

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Response to markpkessinger (Reply #5)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 03:21 AM

7. Not victim blaming in the least - I apologize if that is how I sounded

There has to be a breaking point doesn't there? This system where teachers are paying to teach is unfair.

Teachers should NOT be in a position to have to buy supplies for students to learn.

I am asking because how can we change it?

The lawmakers don't deal with the reality of facing students every day, it is the teachers.

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Response to nadine_mn (Reply #7)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 03:36 AM

10. "Victim blaming" was too strong a term . . .

. . . sorry about that. It's just that your post seems to place the onus on teachers to make an impossible choice -- that's what makes me uncomfortable.

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Response to markpkessinger (Reply #10)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 03:46 AM

13. That is what my struggle is - on the hand I see the slippery slope

that teachers will continue to be expected to make up for budget gaps, knowing that they will because they don't want their students to suffer.

The solution of every teacher saying no more, enough is enough will only have the effect of hurting kids.

Why are we putting teachers in this position of paying to work?

There has to be a solution that doesn't affect the quality of education children receive but also allows teachers to make a living wage. But how do you get that message across to the voting public (esp those without kids in school)? How do you get people outraged enough to be allies?

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 03:13 AM

6. Teacher for 27 years and I spent money on supplies

Fortunately, since I taught high school, money was usually for pencils and paper and quite often, lunch money for kids who didn't have it. Every teacher I have ever known spend money for his/her classroom and on the kids. It is what we do.

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Response to leftofcool (Reply #6)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 03:37 AM

11. Do you think that is the way it should be?

The situation in OK is horrible, I was pretty shocked watching some of the coverage.

Some teachers cannot afford food - how can they afford to supply their classroom?

Every time I read comments from teachers, it is never like $50 here or $100 there - it is hundred sometimes over a thousand $ they spend EVERY year on supplies for their classroom - just for basics.

I would feel like a shit teacher if I had to choose between putting food on the table for my family vs making sure my 140 students had paper, pencils, books, etc so they could learn.

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 03:28 AM

8. I so agree!

What has our society come to that we can't supply basic school supplies for our children?

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Response to Paka (Reply #8)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 04:01 AM

17. Right!

Itís crazy how funding can come from nowhere where there is the opportunity to fight another war we donít need to fight, but the second we start talking about taking care of our own people everything costs too much.

Our priorities are completely backwards.

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 03:57 AM

14. Ive got 2 elementary-aged kids and I agree

However, who is going to get stuck with the bill?

Iíd love to see our bloated military spending get trimmed and funneled into education, but Iím pretty sure thatíll never happen.

I hate that local property taxes fund only local schools. I know I certainly benefit from the system as the public schools my kids go to are among the best in my part of the country, but then again I pay nearly $12,000 a year in property taxes on my way-overpriced $310,000 (at least when compared to the rest of the country), 4 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom, 1,800 sqft home. My mortgage payment plus escrow is nearly $2,700 a month.

Iím not willing to pay anymore in property taxes. I canít afford to.

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Response to Victor_c3 (Reply #14)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 09:43 AM

30. Saw this on a poster once:

What if our public schools got the money they wanted......

And the military had to hold bake sales and sell wrapping paper?

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 03:59 AM

15. If teachers do that, they do it because they care

Conversely, they shouldn't stop just because the politicians don't care. One thing is certain, politicians, especially Republicans politicians will continue not to care. Why especially Republican politicians? Because it has been statistically shown that the worse your education, the more likely you are to vote Republican. Poor education helps them out. Only when they completely control the school's agenda are they enthusiastic, but which are you going to hire first, some kid with a degree in advanced Christianity from Liberty University or someone with a degree from Northwestern in something you can use in the real world?

However, just like the Florida high school students, we need a high-profile, national parade of teachers giving nonstop interviews on TV explaining that they dip into what is left of their meager salaries because the schools are chronically underfunded (as are they). The problem won't go away if they stop helping out. Only massive attention drawn to the issue will help.

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 05:12 AM

18. I am the recycle king.

Anything that passes through my office has the potential to end up at my art teacher friends classroom. My co-workers have been beat into submission to sort, organize and pack everything. Last year we recycled over 100 three ring binders. Every piece of paper has two sides. Some people even scrounge items from home for this mission. Most of us don't even live in her district.

This spring, coffee can planters........

Help can come in many forms.

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 05:58 AM

19. One thing to keep in mind is that culturally we have expected some professions to provide

 

Last edited Wed Apr 4, 2018, 06:35 AM - Edit history (1)

out of pocket expenses in some way or another.

It is not something unique to teachers. Now if it should apply in the case of teachers is a valid subject, but when teachers act like they are the only ones who do it the argument comes off seeming more than a little out of touch to a lot of people who also have out of pocket expenses.

Some out of pocket expenses are directed - you will have X,Y,Z. Some are not directed but implied- you will do X,Y,Z and whatever it takes to do that you will have, if it is easier for you to spend money youth at up to you. And some have just become culturally accepted.

When I was a deputy I bought 3 extra uniforms above the 3 provided because there was no way to operate on swing shifts keeping 3 uniforms clean and having a spare always available. I bought my own voice recorder. My own notebooks. Hell, my cell phone that was only for work use was all out of pocket until my last few years, and when the wireless internet cards came out I paid for one and the service out of pocket because while it wasnít mandatory I could do my job much better with it. Hell, I even had to pay for my own rifle out of pocket if I wanted to carry one instead of a shotgun, and pay for all the accessories and the ammo I needed to train with it before qualification.

In my job now I have a boatload of things I pay for out of pocket, from supplies to subscriptions to services thag make me more efficient to software.

An old high school friend of mine is a school bus mechanic, he recently posted his new tool box on Facebook. I was astounded at the price- he has over $15,000 paid just for the box. Said he has over $50,000 in tools he has bought for the job because he must have them, and they are worth a fraction of that used compared to his purchase price. He said itís just the price you pay out of pocket if you want to do the job.

Itís fair game to argue if teachers should be among those we expect to spend out of pocket in some form in order to do the job or make it easier. However when teachers and their advocates act or present it like they are the only ones who do this they come off as out of touch. So they need to watch the messaging.

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Response to Lee-Lee (Reply #19)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 09:29 AM

28. +1000

I posted below about working as a therapist (and making MUCH less than the average - or even lowest paid!) teacher.

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Response to janterry (Reply #28)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 09:57 AM

31. Yeah, I think a lot of teachers have been lead to believe its been unique to them

 

I found this article that says the average teacher spends $500 out of pocket:

http://time.com/money/4392319/teachers-buying-school-supplies/

In the reality of most people doing professional jobs that isnít unique or unusual to spend thag.

Heck, when I was a sheriffs deputy I had a cell phone that was only for work use, because using a personal phone was a real bad idea for a number of reasons. I paid 100% of that cost out of pocket, at $45 a month.

Did I have to have a cell phone for the job? No, I could have worked around it. I could have told people I encountered in the community the only way to call me was to call dispatch and have them get me to call in and patch the call. I could have delayed phone calls to citizens for only when I was in the office or a pay phone. I could have done that all but I would have just provided worse service. But it made it easier for me to do the job and gave better service to the citizens.

And that was just the cell phone expense already over $500 a year. When I looked at the ammunition I bought for more practice than what the agency provided, notebooks, better handcuffs, organizers for carrying equipment, extra uniforms, small toys I gave away to kids, and the rest I easily spent twice in a year what the average teacher did. And I made less.

Hell, as an Army Resrvist I probably spent more than $500 out of pocket on various supplies and services a year. For a part time gig.

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 06:20 AM

20. My wife and I started teaching in the mid-70s, and spent money on the classroom every year.

I suspect the vast majority of teachers spend some. In a few cases, we've had local donations from parents, or some district fund that we could tap, but usually we just buy stuff that is needed.

Honestly, the US puts the MIC on a pedestal without any limits to spending. Education is at the bottom of the list. It's easier to get money for almost anything than the school system. Highways, aircraft carriers, tax incentives for business, tourism advertising, ball stadiums, and airports - spend millions or billions on just about anything - but try to get schools moved to the top of any state or federal list!

Teachers in some places are on strike. College students don't want to become educators any more.
That's the main reason that much of the rest of the world is doing a better job of education.

Teachers spending their own money for basic materials is one small symptom of huge problem.

Fortunately, the baby boom generation produced a lot of college graduates, and the economy of the 50s and 60s built a pretty effect school system highlighted by the introduction of special education in the early 70s. Since then, it's been a constant battle and decline.

I was lucky to teach when things weren't too bad, but it's hard to recommend the profession right now.

The next generation may have to depend on AI and distance learning, because the personal attention of good teachers is rapidly becoming a myth in American schools.

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 08:14 AM

22. howdi. this is a sore spot with me , as my late mom was a teacher &

she had to spend a lot of her own monies for schoolroom supplies even though this was a district budget item. this practice must stop and the district must fund this fully. she had to buy basic paper . pencils . and whatnot to make the classroom function.i remember when we had to buy our own supplies as student.

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 08:55 AM

24. My SOs school rations paper

They also don't use textbooks anymore - teachers are required to develop their own curriculum using online sources. But, they have to conform to the "Sunshine State standards" and all the tests and exams have to be the same for each teacher in that subject area. That means more time they don't have to have meetings, in his case of all the geometry teachers, some of whom don't play well with others.

The district "generously" gives each teacher $250/year to buy supplies. It's not even close to enough. I always buy extra paper towels and tissues for his classroom. I lost my job nearly 4 years ago and have been underemployed since so we cannot afford even that extra expense.

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 09:15 AM

26. Yes

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 09:26 AM

27. I'm a therapist (MSW) and I've spent thousands

on supplies for the kids and adults that I've worked with over the years.

You can't do therapy with kids without art supplies. I bought them myself.

I've purchased several hundred books (many were used by clients). When I was a case manager (prior to my master's), I purchased all kinds of things for clients (I told them that they were donations to the office - so that our relationship was not 'confused').

Teachers, btw, have made significantly more than I ever have in my jobs (I made less than a burger king worker, at one prison - less than the guards, even).

You do what you do. Teachers are important. But if I were a teacher, I'd buy stuff, too.

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 09:41 AM

29. I used to think of buying supplies as offense to the kids defense.

If I had writing utensils, paper, tissues etc. ready, then the ďprocrastinatorsĒ couldnít take their sweet time trying to gather necessary materials from lockers and other students. Now, as a sub, a lot is done on iPads and chrome books. I still bring paper and pencils with me because the ďprocrastinatorsĒ try telling me that they forgot their passwords or show me that their lesson wonít download. I just give them paper and pencil and say they will need to share with a neighbor and write out their answers. Most will curiously remember their passwords or fix the download issue. 😃

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Wed Apr 4, 2018, 10:48 AM

32. I buy pencils and some basic stuff that is cheap

I drew the line when the principal asked me to put a rug in my reading area. I agree it would be preferable but when she told me it was a priority to the campus and the district but that neither would pay for it, I told her it was an "equal priority" for me.

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