Books? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Books!


After the children, the second thing I notice about my new Special Ed classroom is that there are no books.

Okay, that is a slight exaggeration–but not much of one. There are History textbooks, but they’re years beyond the reading ability of even the school’s Regular Ed students. There is a small box of four-page booklets of less than 40 words each that my 5th grade students say they have been re-reading since 2nd grade.
 

No Books and No Learning Allowed

Does Anyone CARE About These Kids?


 
I learn that none of the children enjoy reading.
 
Are you surprised?
 
That weekend, I buy five copies each of storybooks popular with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders–most of the students read at only a 1st or 2nd grade level. Books like Amelia Bedelia, Frog and Toad, and Little Bear.
 
Frog and Toad Are Friends Cover

I Wish They Were MY Friends


 
Deputy Dan Book Cover

Loads o’ Fun, ‘Cause Loaded With Puns 🙂


 
I also buy Reading workbooks (from a series called “Spectrum”) at the same levels. On Monday, the children learn that reading can be fun. They love the new books, and are eager to read from then on.
 
I am told that an excellent rate of Reading progress in a Special Ed elementary class is one half-year of gain per each year in school. That year, some of my students are measured gaining a year.
 
Full of Myself Mug

My Coffee Has Never Tasted So Good


 
But I have now joined the supremely-stupid ranks of my fellow teachers: From this point on, I will continue to spend personal money to do my utmost for my students and their future success in life–to do more for this goal, in most cases, than their own parents care to.
 
I later learn that I shouldn’t entirely blame The District for not providing books. Classroom books can walk out the door with students, or with substitute teachers. Entire classroom libraries can leave when permanent teachers are transferred to other schools.
 
But four and a half years LATER, I learn—
 
Wait:
 
Do you remember that, instead of putting me and my Special Ed kids in a classroom, they instead stuck us in a storage room? No window, no connecting door, and half the size of a regular classroom (violating District policy in all three of these failings)?
 
Small Meeting Room

Do You Feel Trapped In This Small, Windowless Meeting Room?


 
Well, my principal had to take something OUT of that storage room to move my kids INTO it. What she’d taken out was books. Discontinued textbooks for each grade level and subject. And supplemental books: Science books. History books. Art books. Music books. And, (you saw this coming, didn’t you?) matched sets of 4 or 5 books each of:
 
“Amelia Bedelia”.
“Frog and Toad Are Friends”.
“Little Bear”.
 
Fun-for-children books at every reading level. Books I could have used instead of spending my own money.
 
Irked Sheikh

It’s Not Like Money Just Bubbles Up Out of the Ground Or Anything


 
There was even an entire set of Spectrum Reading workbooks for each grade level. Enough for an every child to use, as long as each child used separate paper to write answers so that the books could be re-used.
 
The administrator who unlocked and let me into the smaller storage room some of those books had been moved to (the rest had been distributed elsewhere) let me borrow some of those fun reading books. And some excellent discontinued History books written in much simpler language than our currently-approved doorstoppers and paperweights. But she made me promise not to tell anyone.
 
Teachers were not allowed to teach using materials from inside that locked room.
 
Hand-Slapping Irked-or-Disappointed Baby

No. Just no. May I Please Choose a Different Parallel World?


 
 
BOOK-LOSS ADDENDUM
 
I caught children often trying to exit my room with my books tucked into waistbands, etc., until I learned how to control this. (Students with good behavior were permitted to borrow books by signing them out.)

I was warned by fellow teachers about some substitutes walking out with books, and advised to lock away my own books when I knew in advance I’d have a sub. I’d guess some loss blamed on subs is due to them not noticing student theft–but not all of it, because of a specific instance that was related to me.

I was both told of classroom book supplies walking away, and observed it first-hand. I don’t believe these are thefts with evil intent, but teachers conserving resources for their next set of students. Possibly some feel justified in light of their own financial outlays.
 
1st Teaching Post: Shocked By a Rock
 
Prev Teaching Post: He Who Will Teach
 
Next Teaching Post: The Boy Who Boomed and Spat


 

Advertisements
Leave a comment

60 Comments

  1. Hi Babe. Yes, you’ve joined the ranks of those true-blue teachers who spend their own money on their kids because they just care too much not to. For that I thank you but feel ashamed that in this supposedly “greatest nation on earth” you should have to. I don’t understand how things have gotten so bad. When I think back to my childhood, it was books, always books, which were my greatest joy and comfort. For you to have to promise “not to tell” just speaks volumes, doesn’t it? Something to think about from Ray Bradbury:
    You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.

    Like

    Reply
    • I give myself some credit for dedication, but not as much as you probably give me, Barbara. A lot of it was my compulsive nature comprised of Aspie OCD plus abused-kid insecurity fear-of-failure/eager-to-please-begging-puppy-ness. I have always plowed into every job well over 100% until the part-time one I have currently, which I began that way until I found it was literally making me ill. My health just can’t take hours of heads-down any longer.

      Any shame isn’t yours to own, or mine, and yet I feel it. I feel shame, sometimes, at being an American. It is too bad, isn’t it?

      Perfect quote you chose. Great book. Who ever thought we’d be living it?

      Like

      Reply
      • As usual, I am certain you deserve far more credit than you are willing to give yourself. That’s okay, we all know more about the inner workings of our own motivations than we would probably care to admit. The point is that you did something about it, Babe. Not to get all overly-dramatic, which you know I am wont to do, but I sometimes fear we are living in the decline of our civilization on so many levels. I mean, when we stop really caring about education – true education, not test-passing – isn’t that just the slippery slope towards disaster? EGAD, here I go. Sorry. It’s just a subject i really worry about. Jay Leno can do all those funny “man on the street” interviews, and they are hilarious on one level mocking our level of ignorance, but on another level…..what a disaster for our culture that high school students, for example, can’t identify which country borders Texas.

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
  2. That is atrocious. That’s why I always vote Yes for the school budgets. Your students are lucky to have you.

    Like

    Reply
    • First, thank you, Phil, but they have me no more. I taught for only five years (it made me ill, literally.).

      Second, there was no lack of money in our District. It had a wealth of riches. It was how it allocated the money that was the problem. I don’t have the figures to hand, so what I recall may be off, but I believe the public schools then had $10K a year PER CHILD to cover all: salaries, building maintenance, teaching materials, insurance, etc. That is a truckload of bucks. $200K per classroom, let’s say, if class sizes were kept small. You don’t think that’s enough money? Pay the teacher 75K, which s/he deserves. Do you really need 125K for the rest? Good gosh.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
      • You’re right. I think that’s the case with most districts. My sons school is currently focused on getting a lighted baseball field instead of higher test scores.

        Liked by 2 people

        Reply
        • I’m genuinely sorry. The big b-s in L.A.U.S.D. was to throw out textbooks every couple of years (for its thousands upon thousands of students–and you know how expensive texts are, so that added up to thousands upon thousands of dollars) and decide upon a NEW set of textbooks. Always marketed by some slick Music Man-type company. It reminded me of the way men in computing made their software purchase decisions: By how low-cut the female vendors’ dress-front was, and how hi-cut its bottom.

          Liked by 1 person

          Reply
  3. I enjoy your posts very much. Where do you teach? I taught in NJ’s public schools for 33 years…

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Thank you very much! I no longer teach at all. I taught five years back in East L.A. and developed my second autoimmune disorder while teaching (I likely had it already, but it worsened severely my first weeks in the classroom.) You may already know teachers have a much higher risk of developing such diseases (and dying from them), and the cause is unknown. Although I would still like to tutor on a part-time basis, I can no longer risk being in a school environment at length for this reason.

      Like

      Reply
    • Oh, dear! I’m glad I caught that “fifteen years” and corrected it in my reply to you above: I taught for only FIVE years. A true Freudian slip, for I have said, not joking, that five years in that neighborhood, with the classes I taught, was easily like fifteen years in tonier neighborhoods.

      I returned because I hadn’t thanked you adequately or said that much as I bite your hand sometimes when I disagree, I also enjoy the feeding I get back at your trough of stimulating, intelligent posts.

      Like

      Reply
  4. I already spend a truckload and I’m only a relief (substitute in your language) teacher. Mainly because not all teachers are like you and I can find myself short of things for the kids to do. Boredom in a Special Ed class = disaster.
    It’s no different in this wealthy dig-all-the-coal-out-of-the-ground-and-sell-it-to-the-Chinese country. Spending on education is woeful and hardly set to improve under a Conservative government.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Dear H. (As in “HOW-does-M-R-know-it’s-H”? I saw nothing on your Gravatar or About pages or in your replies to or comments from readers to give it away. I always feel like I’m two or three steps behind. 😦 )

      Dear MoSY,

      If your nation spends little on education, it is different than ours. We spend a bunch; the amount varies by locale. In Los Angeles, it is a big, big bunch. Similar answer I gave to Phil Taylor earlier: 10K budget per student 15 yrs. back, I think-don’t know if now. If small class of 20 kids, 200K–blown by bloated bureaucracy, mismanagement (e.g. tossing out all texts and materials and buying new every 2-3 years), and overly-large “physical plants”: too-big school buildings (bringing associated overhead for heating, cooling, maintenance, insurance).

      Thank you for your own monetary contributions to education, unfair though they are, and for being a relief teacher. I’m sure many children have suffered lifelong trauma benefitted greatly from your clever tutelage.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      • How does M-R know it’s H? She asked. (By the way, it’s pronounced ‘Aitch’. Please don’t call me ‘Haitch’ or I shall spit in yer eye in my best piratey fashion.) My name – from which the contraction H is derived – is actually on my blog if you know where to look. 🙂 I am equally enamoured of MOSY so pick and choose as the whim takes you.

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        • “…if you know where to look.” (and are not thick as a post). You see? No gin needed. I may go back and spot it immediately, and feel stupid, or not spot it, and feel more so. I think the better course is to never return to your blog at all, to avoid further name shame.

          I guess this means…Goodbye, MoSY!
          😥

          Like

          Reply
          • Well, I can’t ‘Like’ that, now can I? If it makes you feel better, M-R didn’t know where it was. Here’s a clue: Copywriting my original work, particularly in terms of music, is important, don’t you think?

            Liked by 1 person

            Reply
            • You’re not playing Lucy to my Charlie, are you? I won’t head over there only to find nothing, return here to your abject and “sincere” apology, and be bounced back yet again?

              I know Aspie-Ball can be fun–esp. for an athlete–but it is a cruel sport, MoSY. Cruel.

              Like

            • Ah.

              Choo!
              I am, likely, allergic to you. And have a story about you, as about everything else in creation:

              When living in England, I had few “musts”–I was only 10–but desperately wanted to (1) visit Stonehenge; (2) walk down Carnaby Street (it was the sixties); (3) see the famous moors, in person–including a particular plant often associated with them.

              My parents refused permission for me to go on my class trip to Stonehenge. We stood at the corner of the famous street, and they refused permission for us to step one foot onto it. They refused to take me to see the moors. I never knew what they looked like, covered in…fog.

              Well, that I actually did, thanks to frequent views of Dartmoor Prison on television. Upon our return to the States, my new school, a modern building set low to the ground in a dank and foggy field, looked exactly like my own hellish Dartmoor. Welcome home, Babe!

              I did finally learn, BTW, what purple-hued …fog looks like, but not massed over the ground of the moors.

              😦

              Like

            • I am happy that you found it and that you hopefully discovered I am not the cruel and vindictive person you seem to think I am. (I can give you references to prove it, if you like.) Sorry about the allergic reaction. Can I get you some antihistamine?
              But I am sad you did not get to do/see the things you most wanted. Taken to Europe when I was 12, my top picks were to ride the ferris wheel in Vienna and explore Hampton Court maze. Both were closed. The perils of travelling out of season. 😦 But at least it was something out of my parents’ hands and not a deliberate denial of wishes. Poor Babe.

              Liked by 1 person

            • You do realize I will require a handwriting sample from you and will be submitting this along with those references to an expert for close comparison?

              I’m sorry you missed out on your wheelie big and and challenging European goals. I know that must have hurt for a long time.

              Confession time: My mother DID offer to let me go with her and my sister Macy one day to Stratford-on-Avon (Macy had asked to go, so of course her wish was granted), but I declined (!). I had zero interest in seeing Shakespeare’s hangout. Later, I felt like the fool I was.

              The whole “family” DID go to visit Roman baths, which was one of the most exciting things ever. Not that I was a nerd child or anything.

              Liked by 1 person

  5. Second, there was no lack of money in our District. It had a wealth of riches. It was how it allocated the money that was the problem.

    You nailed it there. In Minneapolis, the per child, per year funding is more on the order of $19K. Yet the district somehow cannot manage to fund the essentials. They say, their largest expenses are transportation, food service and management.

    As for reading, I bought my kids comic books to inspire them to read.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Nineteen thousand dollars. It makes one ill, doesn’t it?

      Comics were a great idea. I had all the Action comics. Would still have ’em but…that’s for a blog post.

      Like

      Reply
      • My brother develops very complex systems for the oil and gas industry. He bills out at $350/hr and therefore lives in the toniest area of Saint Paul. Every morning, a small school district bus picks up his boys and buses them across the city to a French-immersion school located in a bad area of town, about three blocks from where I used to work. The district does not charge for this service.

        A year ago, the district asked the parents, who all live in my brother’s neighborhood, if they could move the school closer to the students to save money. The parents revolted and quashed the idea. They wanted their children to have the experience of riding through a poor neighborhood…. but they didn’t want to to pay for it. They wanted to use someone else’s resources for that.

        Like

        Reply
        • First of all–cool that your bro’ does those 3D visualization systems. I was part of a telemedicine consortium that included a Cray and oil guys with their secret-y imaging ways, ’cause what works to locate and visualize oil underground at a distance works to locate and visualize cancer in a woman’s breast tissue at a remote location.

          Them dudes were smart.

          Second, your brother sounds like a

          Like

          Reply
          • Visualization is more on the exploration side. He does controls on the refining side.

            Like

            Reply
            • You mean, the software that makes sure all the mixes mix so right and naught that shouldn’t goes alight? Really. I don’t understand. I’m envisioning lots of tubes and valves and seals. Critical timing and quantity issues. Catalysts. Is it that?

              Like

        • AI–did I go too far?

          Like

          Reply
          • I’m envisioning lots of tubes and valves and seals. Critical timing and quantity issues. Catalysts. Is it that?

            Think about all those gauges and dials. It’s all analog stuff that has to be set manually. Now think about digitizing and integrating it all so it can be operated from a remote location. No more wires running from towers and twisting across the refinery to a control panel. It’s all wireless.

            Like

            Reply
            • Thank you, AI. Uh…I think we’re saying the same thing, in that it never occurred to me that the controls were all still manual–although I sure hope every one still has a manual backup and that there is a team of well-trained dextrous monkeys standing by should software or power fail in a cascading disaster (human- or nature-caused).

              Like

  6. You went from teaching to IT, right?

    Back in the old mainframe days, the ranks of COBOL programmers were well represented by former teachers, many of whom were women.

    Like

    Reply
    • I went from IT to teaching as part of the downward career spiral caused by the neurological activity of my then-single disease. My lupus doctor, to his credit, warned me against it as a second career. He didn’t think the stress would be good for me. I laughed, literally. I’d been Asst. Dir. of a software division. How stressful could KIDS be?

      My IT path went: COBOL, assembly language (they needed someone, and it was interesting and fun), some machine code (a debugging tool for CICS called Online Debug let you mickey at the machine code level, so I learned to twerk it some), to a little PL/I (didn’t like it, but was able to fix what was broken), to doing pure analysis and design of systems and databases, where the REAL fun was. Stayed in long enough that I designed files/dictionaries, web pages and flows, and wrote tech and end-user docu (incl. help text) for a cutting edge system IBM was salivating over–had demo’d prototype–but I’d not learned html or any other newfangled tools. I couldn’t think well enough, consistently enough, quickly enough, to program any longer. Very slow mind, high error rate now.

      Like

      Reply
  7. RR

     /  2015/03/01

    I pity the people who do not appreciate books. I feel sad for those whose fingers do not know what it feels like to turn the pages bound together by knowledge, history, adventure and fantasy. To not know what it is like to dive into a book and emerge moments later completely soaked in new knowledge. To not know the feeling of being whisked away to foreign land in an afternoon without moving anything but your mind. And soul.

    Bless you for caring enough and taking the time to offer those children that gift. No matter what becomes of them. You. The storage room. Or the books. A bit of magic happened when you did that. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    • Thank you, Rebecca. You are right. No matter what, for that time we spent with those books, each child was experiencing success, and having the pleasure of reading. Maybe that’s enough.

      I also feel sorry for our lost generations–it is multiple now–who are only semi-literate. Sad for them.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  8. What sort of tests needed to be failed to become an administrator, Babe?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • My second principal was superb, from what I observed. But I may be biased, for he thought I was an excellent teacher (regarding the actual act of teaching, at least), and gave me a lot of room to do as I felt best within the four walls of my classroom.

      Like

      Reply
      • The one of which you are addressing currently, though. That’s the one I am bitching about here. Ugh.

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        • Agree totally!! That one wanted to be popular with parents and students, and teachers, but not if it meant DOing anything, The school’s mean test scores were below 25%–they could have raised them by telling students to bubble in every B–and she stuck blindly to the District lines, played favorites with teachers to the detriment of students (in my opinion), handled major discipline issues with tut-tuts… (in my opinion).
          Sorry. I rant.

          Like

          Reply
    • Mark, I forgot the first half of that reply: Yes! Exactly! If you mean the upper decision-makers. With parent demands, and lawsuits, and District requirements ever-changing, one does have to have courage to take on the Asst Principal or Principal role (or not care about kids at all and just want the salary or “power”–I guess there may be some like that).

      Like

      Reply
  9. Libraries of books disappear with teachers? Really? What do they do with them?

    Like

    Reply
    • By “libraries”, these are classroom libraries, or collections. They take them on to their next school, so it isn’t as if some children somewhere aren’t benefitting. But it is a drain all around to pockets and children that books can’t stay put unless a school’s management and staff stays stable and content.

      Like

      Reply
    • Let me expand: In subsequent years, I initially kept my own purchased books in bins by subject. The more-popular books walked away rapidly when subs were present, victims more likely to light-fingered students than subs, but, in one case, possibly not–and another teacher warned me. I switched over to keeping my books in zippered rolling suitcases labelled large with my name and the genre of books, which I could lock on days I was to be absent. Problem solved, plus nicely portable.

      Like

      Reply
  10. This is truly an appalling situation. Kudos to you OB for doing what you could. But it is enough to make a sane person crazy. My father always said that common sense is uncommon, and it surely is lacking in the school system. He also believed that school is not for educating as much as it is for socialization. In both regards the system is failing, which is in turn planting the seeds of failure of our future society, if not already. I am currently trying to get my certification to embark on (yet another) new career in adult education, this is a very hot field since so many people now need re-training. The concept of a static education diploma is gone like the dodo. To coin a phrase Marshal McLuhan talked about “learning a living” and that is precisely what is now the norm, ongoing continuous education to stay employed. The school system has not adjusted yet to this new paradigm shift to prepare for a lifetime of learning and something will need to throw the clutch to reinvent the wheel. sigh

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • But who is the audience for retraining, and who will hire them? Businesses still are blindly prejudicial toward certain age, gender, height, ethnic, and socioeconomic types, although there is little data of which I’m aware linking wiser decision-making to any but the latter (and now significant data linking poorer decision-making in groups or under pressure to genital outies).

      I am at that age where I retell stories repeatedly, so stop me if:
      I lost a job at age 30 (politics, ak’sh’ly), but was at my peak of marketability, IT-wise. HOT.

      Could not even land an interview. This was in the days when headhunters scouted US. I asked them “What gives? Going rate for my skills is in the triple digits!” They said “Drop some experience off your resume. Get plastic surgery around your eyes. Try passing for 23 or 24.” Plastic surgery? At 30? I asked “Would you be telling me this if I were a man? Would I be having this problem if I were a man?!”

      You know the answer.

      Best of luck with your new direction, and with better supervisor(s)!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  11. Great post Babe… it is sad that you had to spend your own money on your pupils i order to provide them books… I wonder what’s happening nowadays with Education priorities nowadays… I try not to jugde from a political approach, but it seems hard to believe and I am sure it is not a matter of budget…
    As I read through your post I thought of two things: 1) the novel “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury (*) and 2) Michel Foucault’s theory on Discipline and Power…
    I will always consider books seeds of knowledge and creativity.
    Thanks for this post and for what you have done for those kids.
    All my best wishes. Aquileana 😀

    (*) Set in the twenty-fourth century, “Fahrenheit 451” introduces a new world in which control of the masses by the media, overpopulation, and censorship has taken over the general population. The individual is not accepted and the intellectual is considered an outlaw. Television has replaced the common perception of family. The fireman is now seen as a flamethrower, a destroyer of books rather than an insurance against fire. Books are considered evil because they make people question and think. The people live in a world with no reminders of history or appreciation of the past; the population receives the present from television. (Source: http://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/f/fahrenheit-451/book-summary)

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Thank you for the kind words, Aquileana. The teachers who do this year after year for a long career are the ones who are to be thanked. You are right that the book lack is not related to low budget dollars–it is due to mismanagement of funds, and misplaced priorities.

      Regarding teachers making up the lack out of their own pockets, I don’t know about now, but back when I taught, I believe that Nevada was the only state in which teachers were provided an annual budget from which they could purchase some supplies. As a Special Ed teacher in Los Angeles, however, I did get some discretionary funds (I’d totally forgotten about this until your comment). It didn’t stretch far enough when the students and classroom started with nothing.

      The Fahrenheit 451 parallel is fitting. I would say it fits the home environment more than the school, though. When I was growing up, children were expected to enter Kindergarten already knowing the basics of reading. Beginner books had “easy” words mixed with pictures, because most four and five year olds could read those easy words already. Most parents today don’t bother to read to their children any more, which is very sad for the children and society.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  12. My husband taught for several years and now he’s administration, fighting exactly this kind of ridiculousness that’s going on EVERYWHERE. Locking away books. DUH.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Please give your husband a big kiss from me. No–not enough. Please make passionate love to him from me. He has my permission to close his eyes and picture you, however.

      Like

      Reply
  13. Paul

     /  2015/03/09

    Late to the discussion OB. Sorry.

    It amazes me how much of the education budget goes to things other than teaching. And the wastefulness of throwing out perfectly good texts is mind blowing. I have friends who have taught for a living and they always end up putting their own money into the classroom. It would be interesting to see exactly how much money is put in by teachers and parents. But we’ll never know.

    You must have been an amazing teacher OB – caring for your students as much as you did. I bet there are many who remember you clearly.

    Thank you for you effort in teaching the kids.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Late to the reply party, Paul. (Hope you are well, sir.)

      As always, thank you for the compliments. In hindsight, I was a natural teacher one-on-one or in small group from the start, but more average whole-class until year three or four.

      And I was never a master at handling discipline (euphemistically, “classroom management”), although I did settle on what I consider the easiest strategy to use, and it worked pretty well.

      Like

      Reply
  14. Have you used the lists you send home to request the parents to contribute to the class books? I will buy books for my son’s class, even if I know my son doesn’t like reading, I try to pick something he might like. (My guy resists reading.) I also recommend library sales. Our library has a side room where the discontinued books are sold for a quarter to a dollar for hardback books. Not that you should have to buy anything for the classroom, but I understand the frustration. Kudos to you for working to make it better for your students.

    Like

    Reply

Best comment wins prize! (sorry, i tell naughty lie...)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: