Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Selling Ads on Tests

A reader asked me to comment on this story:

Squeezed by classroom budget cuts, the Rancho Bernardo High School teacher is selling ads on his exams to cover the costs of printing them.

Here goes.

If I'm mortified by anything in this story, it's that in a state that spends half its budget on schools, there isn't enough money for some teachers to make the copies we need.

I don't fault this teacher for doing this at all. I think it's creative. In fact, I've suggested similar, though not as creative, things in a previous post. The bottom line, though, is that while there is plenty of money going towards education in this state, it's clearly not being spent wisely if we're being penny-ante about copies. As a similar example from my own school, my department head told me yesterday that ordering the overhead projector bulb I need would almost bankrupt our department for the rest of the school year. Let me repeat: I need a light bulb for an overhead projector, a tool math teachers use daily. We have no bulbs in our supply cabinet, and barely have enough money to buy 1 more bulb for the whole department for the rest of the school year.

California Education Code Section 38118 states the following:

Writing and drawing paper, pens, inks, blackboards, blackboard erasers, crayons, lead pencils, and other necessary supplies for the use of the schools, shall be furnished under direction of the governing boards of the school districts.

Notice that this says shall, not can. No one really believes that schools provide pencils, paper, etc. to students, or else there wouldn't be Back To School Sales each August. So we don't provide what we're supposed to provide to students, and we don't provide to teachers even the minimum they need in order to provide instruction (overhead bulb) and assess learning (copies).

I don't fault this teacher one bit. I blame a school bureaucracy that includes the governor, the legislature, the elected Superintendent of Public Instruction, local school districts, and school site administrators for creating a situation in which a teacher would feel compelled even to spend one second of time thinking of how to raise money for test copies.


NetworkDr said...

I stumbled across your blog when I was trying to see how much the unions spent during the 2008 election. Great insight. You're a rare creature these days (Right-handed educator, that is).

Would it be informative to expose how much our "leaders" are making in salary?

Post the salaries of the top 10% of the education bureaucracy and union executives. Let's see how people feel about their pay.

Our college president just got a 7.9% raise to $204,000.00/yr while telling the rest of us we may need to layoff and make other budget cuts.

Interesting that the U.S. President doean't make all that much more to be the leader of the free world....

Scott McCall said...

oh come on! you're kidding me right?

you cant ACTUALLY expect the state to follow through with it's own laws? ESPECIALLY ones that include spending money!!!

But on a serious note.....ya you would think that everyone involved would vote to spend more money on the actual schools.....and not just give THEMSELVES payraises, as apposed to the teachers doing all the work

neko said...

Now what will they say when you show them that they also are suposed to have an American flag in every classroom? ^_^

Ronnie said...

You should talk to site council at Rio, a projector bulb would be an automatically approved item that could come from a number of different funds. Also if things are really bad there is a great teacher request system at Rio and I'm sure someone would be willing to donate a projector bulb if neither the math department or site council can buy one. You never get anything unless you ask for it and I've always felt the math department hasn't petitioned enough for supplies.

Darren said...

NetworkDr, Mike Antonucci at the Education Intelligence Agency (see my California Edubloggers Roll) probably already has that information available. It's what he does :-)

rightwingprof said...

I fail to see what the controversy is about. He puts ads on tests? So?

Anonymous said...

From the fine article:

"The cost of printing quizzes and tests for his 167 students will easily be more than $500, he said."

So this comes to $3/student per year for printing quizzes and tests. Assume each student takes 6 courses. So ... $18/student for printing.

California spends about $10,000 per K-12 student per year. And the budget can't include $18/student for printing tests and quizzes?

I believe this, but is really suggests is very badly wrong in the way the money is spent...

-Mark Roulo

Steve USMA '85 said...

I can see a problem once the first controversial ad gets placed. That, or the first time an ad doesn't get places because it is thought to be controversial. Either way, a law suit waiting to happen.
I want to place an inspirational quote on a test Farber is giving. "None so deaf as those that will not hear." Farber puts it on the test as it seems fairly innocuous. Another parent sees it and realizes that it is from Matthew Henry, an English clergyman talking about religious belief.
Could have a problem there. I think the Farber is unwittingly opening up a potential liability for the school in today's litigious society.

Sidenote: NetworkDr - Do you really think the President doesn't get much to be leader of the free world? OK, base pay isn't much but being able to keep your campaign donations upon retirement yields funds most only dream of. I never heard of a poor, middle-class, or even upper-middle class former President.

Nick Lopez said...

I have a friend here at OU who graduated from this high school. Super cool.

Polski3 said...

Several of our teachers needed new bulbs for LCD projectors. I heard that those puppies cost over $200.00 each ! I rue the day the bulb burns out in my filmstrip projector......

Ellen K said...

We have to buy everything from officially approved sources. This came about because of people prior to us who simply ripped off the system with handwritten receipts and fraudulent behavior. So since we are locked in to just some suppliers, we hardly ever get the best deal. I could go locally and find suppliers who would give us better prices, but they won't work with schools due to the paperwork and the delays in getting paid for orders.