I have $66.66 (yes, really) left on my district Visa card, and because there are so many ways to spend it, I keep not spending it at all, and now it's about to expire, and as I understand it, the money doesn't go back into a pool - it's just gone.
(I did try to spend some of it last month, on posterboard, but because it's a Visa debit card without a PIN or, it seems, a zip code, everything karked it when I used self-checkout and I ended up pulling out my own plastic rather than re-queue.)
(And I did just try to add it to PayPal, to get some educational game stuff for cheap on eBay, but this year they seem to have blocked PayPal.)
(And I did just try to buy a book for $20 less than Amazon on Half.com, but Half wigs out at the "billing address" stage, even though my card is activated for online ordering.)
(At least I didn't try to buy anything at Best Buy, like a pair of speakers so I can show video clips from the local PBS streaming online video site that the district keeps push-push-pushing us to use. I already know that they set up any purchases at Best Buy to be automatically declined.)
Amazon, though, seems to take it (knock nearby microsuede). And I, I think it's perfectly justifiable to spend at least $25 of the card on finally getting my own copy of Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare.
Although there were other temptations.
(I could buy the speakers at Amazon, but now that I'm considering transferring, it doesn't seem like a sound move. The newer schools already have this kind of fancy technology in place.)
You have to keep receipts, which I agree is a good idea, although it keeps me up a little at night that I don't know offhand where I put that $5 receipt for glue sticks last month. Then again, last year I spent $8 on "reward ceremony treats/favors" (we don't say p-a-r-t-y) at Wal-Mart, and then I found out from a fellow teacher that food is totally forbidden and uptown decorated scratch-n-sniff pencils might be a little suspect. Which, I can understand, but where are these things written? It just says "classroom supplies." What, exactly, is a classroom supply?
Well, dry erase markers and sticky notes and paper and pens and scissors and folders and - always - more dry erase markers - all that, yes. But I bought all of that with my own money in August when school was starting and all the great sales were on. The cards did come earlier this year (the day before school started), but if you wait that long, you get a keen understanding of the phrase "while supplies last." I did probably find enough cheap dregs at the time to save $50 on next year's supplies, though. Go me!
Textbooks? Yes, I think the $200 card would cover the purchase of three. I've had six stolen this year, I think, which seems to be about the norm. So, while it's a shame that our kids don't have enough books in the class and can't take books home, it's not a wise use of the money. (Especially when new books will be purchased in a couple of years. With the same stories in them, and the same graffiti within a few weeks.)
Um. Pretty bulletin board decorations? Motivational posters? I already have that. (In fact, I had to take some down to make room for student work which, here as we start the second semester, I have yet to put up. Yes, this does appall me every day, but I think dingy bare prison walls set a hard-working tone, no? No. I do feel bad. Really. I'll try to fix it tomorrow. But that would mean buying more posterboard.)
I think, or hope, that extra information or approaches to information are just as valid as staplers (I have five, counting the three broken ones and the stolen one), loaner pens for students (never returned, never seen again in the child's hand), and anything else that, okay, I should have in my classroom, but it's too depressing to spend money on replacing things that are meant to last awhile, and somehow we get by without paper clips or, lately, tissue.
(I'm waiting for the next $1/box sale. I'm done with trying to explain why it's a problem to take three 2-ply tissues to briefly blow your nose. Even I cringe when I hear those prissy words come out. On the plus side, no tissue in the classroom means no used tissue in the whiteboard gutters, on the floor, or behind the books.)
So, I'm getting the Shakespeare book. That, and a book of Ambrose Bierce short stories that I've wanted for a billion years and would love to integrate into next year's short story unit. (But not "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" because everyone always does that. And that link I just linked, with the video, really has me intrigued, but it's going to have to wait until I can appreciate it, which will be after I finish Pratchett's surprisingly not-cliched Monstrous Regiment in a few minutes. So, if it sucks, I apologize - I haven't really looked at it yet. Also, I have a feeling I've linked to it and said all that before. Double apologies, perhaps.)
I remember one time, a friend of my parents worked for some branch of the local government, and she was laughing, talking about what a fun day they all had, going crazy ordering useless stuff out of catalogs because all the extra money in the budget had to be spent by 5 p.m. or else the budget might be lower for next year. Thin pressed lips on my mother's part ensued.
So, I don't want anyone to think I'm just sitting here spending taxpayer dollars on non-essentials. Better it be spent toward something positive and classroom-related than be lost. But, the system is a little broken - unspent money should return to the district, and we really ought to get our cards in the mail as soon as the sales start. It's hard to pay $10 for a big binder today that I can get for $3 when the time is right.
Book and book, that's $37 spent. I really wanted the Norton Anthology of Poetry, what with us doing poetry all quarter and me only really just discovering P*blo N*ruda so now wanting to bring in apples (can I put those on the card?) and have everyone write odes like this:
your beauty formed
petal by petal,
crystal scales expanded you
and in the secrecy of the dark earth
your belly grew round with dew.
Under the earth
and when your clumsy
green stem appeared,
and your leaves were born
in the garden,
the earth heaped up her power
showing your naked transparency,
and as the remote sea
in lifting the breasts of Aphrodite
duplicating the magnolia,
so did the earth
clear as a planet
round rose of water,
of the poor.
You make us cry without hurting us.
I have praised everything that exists,
but to me, onion, you are
more beautiful than a bird
of dazzling feathers,
heavenly globe, platinum goblet,
of the snowy anemone
and the fragrance of the earth lives
in your crystalline nature
Although, honestly, if I'd written that, I'd say the imagery wasn't really that original or compelling and that it reads like pretentious crud that is meant to look meaningful by adding lots of line breaks. Sorry. I know he won a Nobel Prize. I do enjoy it, though. (But mostly because I love onions.)
Anyway, the big 2500-page Norton Anthology is the one I was trying to get on Half.com for less. I could go halvsies on it, I suppose, but then I find myself deciding that I may as well just look at the table of contents online and get copies of the poems via Google. It's not the same, there is no joy of annotating, but I don't even know if the gift card understands halvsies. (There are lots of dire warnings about getting approved for purchases when funds aren't there then having to pay overdraft fees.)
Okay, I'm throwing in the aforelinked Elizabeth Gold book. It's a penny (plus shipping). I know I'm taking Scotch tape out of babies' mouths, but please remember that these are the same babies that stole at least a foot of packaged lined paper from supply cabinet. (Doesn't this review sell it all?)
That leaves about $24. There's a new OfficeMax down the street. Folders in assorted colors are 2-for-1, along with tape, pens, and glue sticks. I'll do the right thing and the kick-off coffers ready for next August.
So, next year, when I'm crabbing about not having the card in time to buy thumbtacks at 90% off, you can remind me that someone wanted to be all hoity-toity and inspired instead of laying in the stealables. And maybe I will remember that, its faults and frustrations aside, I'm lucky to still be an idealist. The district, despite its stern letter yesterday saying I'll be fired in June if I don't renew my license (that I renewed over a month ago, thanks), is doing the right thing by helping me invest in that.
23 January 2008 | Permalink