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It ‘s February, and a whole month of March (with no vacations) looms ahead. Three more months of school and for the first time in twenty nine years of teaching I have run out of supplies. I have no more colored construction paper, no more masking tape, erasers, watercolors, or colored pencils. I have one pack of glue sticks and half of a ream of white drawing paper. I ‘m out of markers, sketch paper, white glue and soap. I only have half the amount of scissors that I started the year with due to breakage (how do you break a pair of scissors??) and I can ‘t keep a pencil sharpener working.
Normally I would spend my own money to replace the materials until enough student funds are secured for a reimbursement. But there are no more reimbursements this year. I have already accumulated over three hundred dollars in outstanding receipts for which I will not receive a dime. I am tapped out and can ‘t and won ‘t go in to debt to fund the art program in my own classroom. My district refuses to acknowledge the problem and our Arts Subject Area Coordinator ( a non-essential, but costly position ) warns us that complaints will only cause the district administration to re- assess our importance to a school system mired in Program Improvement needs.
What to do with the 192 students assigned to my classes for the next three months? Do I assign book work? Do I run a sub prime art program with less than adequate supplies and materials? Do I ask the students to bring in their own supplies? I have a friend who is not in education who cannot comprehend a system that requires top of the line performance from students and educators but refuses to supply the materials, equipment and support necessary for success. As teachers, we have been doing so much with so little for so long that it no longer surprises us, it just breaks our heart again and again.