Home > Uncategorized > Teachers as “Digital Panhandlers”: The Fruits of a Decade of Tight Budgets and Decades of Inequitable Funding

Teachers as “Digital Panhandlers”: The Fruits of a Decade of Tight Budgets and Decades of Inequitable Funding

September 8, 2018

The Manchester (NH) Union Leader ran a front page column by Mark Hayward describing the plight of teachers in their school district when it comes to providing school supplies that are needed to perform effectively in classrooms. After describing how over 100 Manchester teachers are using DonorsChoose to raise thousands of dollars to get school supplies cut from their budget, the ultimate message of the column is found in the penultimate paragraph:

And in the end, the teachers in the largest city of one of the most affluent states are being reduced to acting like panhandlers. Panhandlers that everyone grumbles about when they start taking over the downtown.

The column is generally sympathetic to the teacher’s plight, but it still takes some cheap shots at the teachers unions and the teachers themselves by quoting one of the fiscally conservative board members:

Richard Girard, a conservative-leaning school board member, said he wishes the school district could provide more supplies.

But he notes that Catholic schools traditionally rely on parents to donate supplies. He said fundraising teaches kids to go out and work for something they want.

And he said it’s difficult to find money for supplies, equipment and additional staff when the teachers’ union wants to see $28 million devoted to raises over the next five years.

“We really have gone out of balance these last few years,” he said.

Yes, Mr. Girard, the Manchester Schools HAVE gotten out of balance. They spend less than every district in NH except Landaff, a small town in the North Country that operates a single school. As the Manchester Superintendent Dr. Bolgen Vargas notes, if Manchester wanted to just reach Nashua NH’s level of spending, it would have to add another $14 million to the budget PER YEAR. It seems that adding $14,000,000 per year would not only cover the $28,000,000 for FIVE years, it might provide adequate funds for school supplies and, who knows, more teachers, counselors, and support services for its students! One thing is clear, if Manchester received an additional $14,000,000 per year the Manchester teachers would no longer need to spend time collecting money on websites and might not have to work part time to make a living wage.

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