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—
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?

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.
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