Free S#!7 for Teachers

On Monday (yes, two days ago), the mayor’s office sponsored this “school supplies giveaway” which teachers could attend to get free stuff, advertised as

Los Angeles Unified School District teachers will have the opportunity to shop for items including: calculators, paper, pens, desk top accessories, staplers, tape, stationary supplies, books, envelopes, chalkboards, labels, file folders, scissors, plus many more valuable supplies.

All items are FREE OF CHARGE and were donated by various corporations throughout the Greater Los Angeles Area.

Excited? very! Clusterfucked? very!

The previous week, teachers received a flyer in their box or a forwarded email informing them of the giveaway. Awesome! We had to RSVP. Great! I never got a confirmation letter, but one of my peers received a denial letter. I thought I was clear.

The giveaway started at 3:15. School ends at 3:00. Not a problem? Did I mention it was up by Griffith Park, and I’m in South LA? Simply having to clock out, check mail, stop by attendance and counseling offices means that even if I hurry, I’m not out of there until 3:30. So, I leave at 3:30, jump in my car and whoosh away to Griffith Park. Although “whoosh” is deceiving: it would imply I got there quickly. In fact, I did not arrive until 4:25. Parking? Full. Lot across the street? Permit only. Hmm.

Feeling defiant, I went to the permit only, looked around. I see another teacher, we exchange secret handshakes, and she informs me that “a lady from the mayor’s office” told her it was OK to park here, and if we get tickets “to give them to her.” Trust is essential, and I wasn’t gonna turn down free stuff, so I went for it.

When I got to the warehouse, no one asked for my RSVP, so I wondered why they would have turned down my colleague. Could he have just shown up anyway? Another colleague did, and was not turned away.

The warehouse was small, crowded, disorganized, and labyrinthine. I was told I was allowed to bring my roller caddy. Others were told they were not allowed their caddy.

As for the stuff? Well, look, I’m creative and I pride myself on recycling. I don’t typically look a gift horse in the mouth. You can feel the BUT coming, can’t you? A lot of it was old, and some of it was useless. I can find uses for scrapbook paper, emergency rations of water, dolls and carpet samples. I was curious why I (or anyone) would want inkjet VHS labels, or ZIP disks, or personalized souvenir magnets, or clock stands. Not clocks. Clock STANDS. They were a weird shape and I couldn’t imagine what kind of clock it would hold. How about a box full of “Like Water for Chocolate” keychains?

Regardless of the puzzling stuff being offered, there were tons of helpful items. I was grateful for the things I received. Don’t get me wrong. But I’ll close with an excerpt from a colleague’s email, when I forwarded the info to him:

call me ungrateful, but shit like this pisses me off.

why do we have to go way the hell to griff park to get stuff we should
already have? now if they’re dishing out laptops, desktops, printers and lcds’s. i’m there. is griff park on your way home?

I do not live anywhere near Griffith Park. I ate dinner in Silverlake, cruised by Secret Headquarters. I avoided traffic. I got home at 7 pm.

8 thoughts on “Free S#!7 for Teachers”

  1. You know its really a shitty deal the way teachers have to scramble for supplies. My friends and I know that when the schools can’t supply basic supplies the teacher does it out of pocket. I donate reams of paper, toner cartridges (the latter are rationed in MUSD) and kleenex to make sure the teachers have the supplies they need.

    Money for art education and projects is long gone. I work with the local Artists association and we raise money to fund art education in the schools, especially the public schools as they are hardest hit. We give tons of money too for art supplies in the classrooms and scholarships.

    I don’t think your friend was ungrateful at all. Teachers should be given the basic supplies by the district at their school. Not drive around making appointments hoping to get the basics.

    Sheesh, call me grumpy but fuck we need to support the teachers and that includes not making their life any more difficult. You can call me unrealistic as well but with a family tree full of educators including several at LAUSD I think I have a good idea on what reasonable supplies and expectations should be from the district.

    To all the teachers busting your ass out there, do know there are a few parents who give a damn and help where they can. The rest of you get involved…you owe it to your kid. Sometimes I wish you had to to be licensed to spawn a few kids.

    Great post, I hope it opened a few eyes up.

    Soapbox put away. For tonight at least.

  2. And in other news, the UC Board of Trustees voted today to approve raises of $30,000 to $45,000 (~12%) per year for the chancellor, campus presidents and other executives. The chancellor will now be making somewhere in the neighborhood of $400,000 a year.

  3. Was this at the LA SHARES warehouse near the Los Feliz fountain? The Cultural Center where I work used to be part of that program, until they added so many participants that you couldn’t get enough of anything. I didn’t need 5 pens, I needed 500, bags of melted rubber bands and I don’t need piles of obsolete office equipment that Warner Brothers put into deep storage in 1973.

    There was one visit where they had stacks and stacks of penguin books in boxes that they weren’t allowed to give to schools because they were remaindered – I added a lifetime of awesome books to my library that day.

  4. Just back from Back To School/PTA meeting where we spent 25 minutes debating whether or not $250 should be removed from a Home Reading Club budget. 20 minutes into it, my husband exclaimed, a bit too loudly for my taste, that he would write a check for the $250 right now if everyone would just shut the F up about it. Only he said the WHOLE F word, loud enough that several rows of parents in front of us turned and laughed. I was a bit embarrassed, but seriously…

    Meanwhile, a friend pointed out that in the budget was $500 for the PTA president’s childcare, and another $400 for her costs. Seems like the PTA was a volunteer thing to me…not totally sure those cost are justified when teachers don’t have classroom supplies.

    Am I wrong?

    I mean, in the class, my sons teacher mentioned how she was still without a screen for her overhead…which she projects directly on the whiteboard…which makes it pretty hard to read.

    For the most part though, my sons school in Long Beach has AMAZING parent support and we ARE willing to help whenever the teachers ask. You guys just have to remember to ask! I mean, in a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to ask…but this has never been a perfect world has it?

  5. Oh Jamie, PTA was originally a volunteer thing but thinks like day care, have crept in for the board in my district. Makes me crazy to see what little money is raised goes to that instead of the kids. Costs used to be by receipt, I hope that part still is.

    Give your hubby a pat on the back for his voicing out loud what everyone thought but was afraid to say. Really, he can go down as a hero tonight for cutting through the crap. I’ve been known to drop the fbomb to get attention when it becomes self-fulfilling bs with hearing someone flap their gums in the wind because the can. Crap there is so much more our kids need, not a bunch of petty wanna be bureaucrats being busy bodies.

    I short circuited the BS and work with my kids teachers direct or with groups that support the teachers directly in other ways.

  6. You guys just have to remember to ask!

    No offense, but frankly I think it’s the parents that have to remember to offer. Your children’s teachers are beleaguered and in crisis. My gf teaches sixth grade ESL and history at a crappy Mid City middle school and she spends the majority of her time figuring out how to to get pencils and paper so her kids can actually do their classwork, or figuring out how to make enough copies to actually be able to teach a lesson or give out homework. Then she comes home and spends the rest of the night grading, planning, and talking with parents on the phone regarding discipline issues that they could give a shit about. Saying that she also needs to add plan for time to solicit parents for help or participation is, frankly, some bullshit. If you care about your children’s education, you should be getting involved without being asked. And if more people cared as much about education issues as they claim to, as opposed to, say, property taxes, we wouldn’t have these problems.

  7. I happen to be the most vocal of the BusBenchers. As such, I also tend to speak up for one of the more demure BBers happens to be a bit of a LACOE/LAUSD. (I also happen to do freelance work for a former LAUSDer with a moderate-to-severe rating, who happened to also be a hired gun in Cuba at age 17 in 1960, and was working the front lines in many ways until the early 1990s.)
    Coincidentally, I also happen to reside in the heart of what was the mandatory evacuation area when the Griffith Park fire peeked hungrily over the hilltop. I stayed home all night, listening to the LAPD loudspeakers compete with the coyotes, while the rest of the neighborhood ran to Marshall.

    Anyhow, should there ever be such an event again, please send us an e-mail (since the aforementioned educator tends to be at school and rarely on-line, I am the one who tends to find out from afar what is going on locally). I will be too glad to document the BS so Tony, Rocky, et al, are thwarted in their hypocritical attempts to be relevant. (I might mention that one of my own clients was in school with Tony in the 1970s, and has quite a bit on him.)


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