Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Why can't I get paper?

Seriously. Is there some run on paper that I'm not aware of?

At my school (and at most others in DCPS, it seems) paper is locked in a storeroom to which teachers have no access. The only person I know with a key is a business manager who is -- how shall I put this? -- difficult to get a hold of. Frequently she's "too busy" to give out paper. She'll decide (maybe once a month) to post a sign (usually handwritten and barely legible) on some random door somewhere that says "I'm giving out paper today at 8," but if you miss that sign and don't get paper that day then you're SOL.

I was recently in my wife's office and I stumbled upon a supply closet with (GASP!) paper, office supplies, binders -- everything you'd need. My eyes glazed over like a kid in a candy store. "You just come in here and get what you need?" I asked with astonishment. Why does this not exist in DCPS? Are teachers so untrustworthy? What do they think we'll do if given access to the paper supply? Just run the halls throwing paper every which way, laughing and screaming like crazy people?

I can see the Capitol Building from my classroom window, but I can't get the basic supplies that are needed to function in my school. In the words of Homer Simpson: "That's not America. That's not even Mexico."


Anonymous said...

I so understand, Harry. I have been known to steal copy paper. Not shoplift from a store, not for my own personal use, but to make copies for my students. And I'm a teacher. In my school, there is a room that used to be an office for some instructional coaches or curriculum writers from 825. They moved out AND LEFT A BUNCH OF REAMS OF COPY PAPER!!! And other office supplies like hanging files, jumbo paper clips, an electric pencil sharpener, MARKERS and CHART PAPER, like giant post-it notes, which Office Depot sells for around $30 and no DCPS supply clerk will ever distribute. I plotted to go into the room and make off with some stuff. But when I got there, obviously someone else had the same idea. The chart paper was gone, as were several reams of copy paper as well as the beautiful electric pencil sharpener. I did get some copy paper, but it was some off white, taupe color. This is like the former USSR. I lived in fear that the school custodian would catch me.

Angela said...

There is sometimes a box of copy paper left next to one of the copiers in the office. When no one is looking, I grab a ream and shove it in my bag. I must time this perfectly because if I see the stack and don't have a means to obscure my find, then other teachers will see me with paper and wonder where I got it.

I use this paper in my printer so I can print out charts, worksheets, and handouts that I create for the kids (therefore bypassing the need for a copier, since somehow copier ink is in more limited supply than printer ink, despite it's lower cost).

I am aware that wanting to have teaching materials for my kids is selfish. I should have posted this anonymously. Dang.

lodesterre said...

Obviously you have never been to an outside professional development seminar for DC Teachers where food is offered for free. You will see people stock up their plates as if they haven't eaten in a week and they leave with their purses and backpacks bulging with stashed food. In some schools the same thing happens with paper and other supplies. So I would say the answer is "no, you can't trust DCPS teachers - at least some of them."

Anonymous said...

Ha! You're not the only ones! We have been known to sneak into our mess-of-a-bookroom to (what? what?) . . . GET BOOKS FOR THE CHILDREN. At our HoustonISD public school, we smirkingly refer to this as "procurement." Toilet paper, paper towels, office supplies left lying around will be "procured" for the use of the students. Horrors! You gotta watch those crafty teachers!

Kings said...

lodesterre - are you saying some teachers steal loads of school supplies for their personal use - not print out tests, etc, at home?

I don't doubt there's a few dishonest teachers, but can't imagine there's much of a personal need or even a black market for reams of paper.

Regarding the food pilfering - Who's ordering so much extra food?

Better people take it home than it gets thrown away

lodesterre said...

I am talking about catered events in which enough food was ordered for the number of people present but if you were at the end of the line you got absolutely nothing because those at the head of the line overstuffed their plates and purses. It happened at three events I attended for DC Teachers.

I did not mean to imply that teachers were pilfering supplies from school. At my old school the principal kept everything under lock and key and handed out supplies in incredibly small amounts (staples in baggies, etc). I had to buy most of my own paper, staples, laminating paper (even my own machine). As that was I would certainly understand "procuring" supplies in such a situation.

Toby said...

The second anonymous is right. I too have had to sneak into the bookroom at my school under a former principal. Now the new principal keeps the bookroom unlocked and no one yells at you like some trespasser if you go into it. And the only people who would want to go into a school bookroom would be teachers trying to get books for our students; no crime there, but they acted like it was. Gosh, I'd sneak into it and pray that no one would catch me as I snuck out with an armload of books.

Kings said...

"if you were at the end of the line you got absolutely nothing because those at the head of the line overstuffed their plates and purses"

Well, that's ridiculous. Someone needs to make an announcement before the buffet opens subtly telling people how to behave.

lodesterre said...

Listen, someone did. They stood up at the front and they said these very words:

Ladies and gentleman, we have ordered enough food for everyone who signed up to be here. Please, please, only take enough for yourself. Please don't act like you have never seen food before."

Those were the exact words. No sooner said than the line formed and people disregarded each and every word. Truth.

Kings said...

Well, maybe the next step is to monitor people as they take food -

and to add something about having enough food for people at the end of the line. I suspect even those who want a lot for themselves don't actively want to deprive others.

Or hire servers like in a cafeteria line - giving ample but reasonable servings and allowing people to come back for seconds only after everyone's been served.

An/or give each person 2 differently colored tickets - one to submit after their first run through the line and the other for seconds, if there's extra food, after everyone's been served.

Provide baggies for the round of seconds, as a way of acknowledging and approving carrying food out -- but only after everyone's been served.

lodesterre said...

How about people acting like adults who get fed on a regular basis instead of people who've never seen food before?

mathgeek said...

lodesterre is absolutely right....most DCPS teachers act like wild animals around food. People overstuff their plates and then toss more than half of it and they do wrap up stuff "to go". I don't think they would steal school stuff to take home, but they would just hoard it for a rainy day.

I think a wiser approach at your school Harry, and I would suggest it if I were you is to just give each teacher a pack of paper every Monday..If paper is in short supply. That way, they still kind of control the amounts, but at least you know when and where and how much you are getting. That is what my old school used to do.

Kings said...

"How about people acting like adults ..."

but they're not doing that on their own, so instead of grousing about it, clearly some action is needed to stop it.

It's like in the Metro when people all cluster around the door and don't move until they hear the announcement to move to the center of the car.

Kat said...

Kings, after reading many of your posts, here and elsewhere, I have to ask...

What color is the sky in your world?

Kings said...

Kat - I'm so clueless that I don't know what you're talking about, but I don't think you're being very pleasant toward me -- did I get that part right?

meaningful change said...

I am not trying to excuse inappropriate behavior but sometimes people get the hording mentality when they are constantly not given the supplies, resources or help they need to be successful.

In terms of the food, well some people overeat. Again it might be a number of people at the trainings but from my experiences it is a minority. I think it is similar to when people get in line at a restaurant that has a salad bar or other buffet. In our society, people tend to supersize food. Let's not try to villianize DCPS teachers for everything.

In terms of supplies, last year my school was renovated and so many things were stolen (computers, furniture, equipment, etc)over the summer. When school started I saw many of the staff act like scavengers. I really don't mean this in a bad way at all because we all were forced to try to teach students with almost nothing- not enough chairs, desks, tables, etc and forget about computers. It was absolutely ridiculous.

The reality is that DCPS teachers are constantly treated unprofessionally in an undermining environment. Just like Harry said, they treat us like we are asking for paper so we can misuse it rather than use it to teach children.

Toby said...

Gosh, meaningful change, you say what I was thinking. Yes, it's insulting that they act like we want paper for our own purposes and not to teach children, but I don't get mad. It just gives me a headache; I adapt. I save, I hoard, I take stuff home for save-keeping, like the above-mentioned chart paper. No way will I leave it in my unlocked with no storage space classroom. When I run out at school, I'll bring it back.
I just can't complain because I've been in DCPS long enough to see that it doesn't change. I just seem to lower my expectations every year.

meaningful change said...


I too try not to let things like this wear me down. If I did I would be a miserable person at school and home. But from time to time I take a step back and look at the structure of DCPS and how we are treated.

Many people on the outside don't know or understand this side of things. They fall for the stereotyping and scapegoating. The hoarding issue is a perfect example. It is consistent with the image of DCPS teachers who are regularly portrayed as lazy, self serving, etc.

I am glad there are forums such as this one where we can have a real conversation about the realities of DCPS.

Kat said...

Yes, Kings, I'm not being pleasant. I'm not sure whether your comments, here and elsewhere, are extraordinarily naive or just sarcastic. Seriously...the scavenging we all see happen at meetings is the fault of the planners, for ordering too much food? Hiring servers? Providing takeout containters? With what money? Come on... Way to place responsibility on the wrong people.

As for your comments in general about Rhee and the reform, it's clear you have officially joined the Conspiracy Club, which notoriously has a tenuous hold on reality.

But this isn't the place for that discussion. I just wanted to provide a rationale for my "unpleasantness."

Anonymous said...

And you are part of the Rhee cheer leading team. Folks who marvel at Rhee as some superstar with disdain for anyone who has the audacity to be critical. Yeah!!

If you reread Kings comments without your Rhee rose-colored glasses on you can see that your responses were way off.

Kings said...

Kat- I think it's selfish for people to load their plates without regard for others waiting for eat. That's why I was suggesting ways to stop the behavior - so others would get fed and the selfish behavior would stop. I think this is better than just complaining about people.

The Creative Lady said...

I think they all attend the same professional development meeting "How to hoard supplies from teachers" and "How to get an attitude when teachers ask for paper clips or staples."

I love your blog! I completely understand.