August 07, 2007


Supplies eyed

My good half went shopping recently for her teacher-provided-at-own-personal-expense school supplies for the upcoming year. Once again certain of Georgia’s teachers received a $100 “gift card” courtesy of the guvnah’s schmoozing in last year’s campaign. Yep, it’s a bona fide prepaid VISA card for one hunnert bones. You see, the guv knew that his 2002 upset victory over his predecessor, the incumbent Democrat, was on the backs of a huge chunk of teachers who were pretty pissed off that said predecessor said he didn’t need the teachers to get re-elected (that’s the short version anyway). So as ’06 loomed the first Republican guv since Reconstruction decided he needed a gimmick to stay on the teachers good side, especially after gutting the education budget (or to be nice I should say that teachers took it in the teeth with a budget that the guv and his team passed which whittled away at teacher retirement benefits and cut funding to local school districts whilst giving big business a billion dollars in tax relief aka “economic development” – fwoooh – and if you can believe it, short version). Yeah, hunnert bucks oughtta do it. Well I don’t know how many teachers bought the guv’s fancy charts and campaign BS – they got what they deserved if they did – but none of them are going to look a gift card in the, er, well they’re not about to complain about some cash for stuff that their school doesn’t provide each year.

Some schools had provided what must be considered a modest annual reimbursement, but once the guv stepped up to the plate to bunt many administrators saw the squeeze play was on and took it as a great opportunity to cut the reimbursements from their local budgets. Every little bit helps, right Mr./Mrs. School Board Member? Surfing about I came across this comment on one teacher’s blog:
“I wish we could call them school supply cards instead of teacher gift cards. I don’t think I was GIVEN anything. My class was given additional, state-paid supplies. I did not get any gift. Will we have to claim the $100 on our income tax?!”
Well put, and the sentiment is understood and hereby sympathized with. Here’s another:
“Why didn’t speech langauge pathologist recieve the gift cards? We buy just as many supplies as teachers do, and we dont have parents that send in ‘classroom supplies’? Our contract says that we are teachers, so why did we recieve what the teachers got?”
Please note I copied that comment verbatim, so while I don’t think this “langauge” pathologist was screwed out of “recieve”-ing money on grammatical grounds, in reading her missive I did have an “OY” moment for teachers everywhere. Lady, the south’s got a hard enough time as it is.

As an additional “benefit” (read adding insult to injury) the cards must be used during the spectacular state tax-free holiday, whereby a plethora of retail items have been seemingly flung up in a taxpayer bribe that could be best described as 52-minus-Three-Card-Monty-pickup. What does and doesn’t make the list is amusing, to say the least:
Clothes and shoes sold for $100 or less per item, INCLUDING helmets, jogging suits, lingerie, inline skates and sport coats BUT NOT umbrellas, cuff links, watch bands and ponytail holders.

Up to $1,500 worth of computers, computer accessories and nonrecreational software INCLUDING antivirus software, computer batteries, cables, database software, finance software, keyboards, monitors, other peripheral devices, personal digital assistant, modems for Internet and network access, scanners, Web cameras, zip drives, printers and storage devices BUT NOT action or adventure games, regular batteries, CD/DVD (music, voice or prerecorded), computer bags, computer games, controllers, copy machines, digital cameras, game systems, LCD/plasma televisions, MP3 players, personal digital assistant carrying cases, projectors, surge protectors and cell phones.
Oh, yeah:
SCHOOL SUPPLIES under $20 each INCLUDING appointment books, backpacks, book bags, book covers, book markers, calculators, CD/DVD/floppy disks, chalk, chalkboard erasers, glue, pens, pencils, protractors, rubber bands, scissors and wire bound notebooks BUT NOT books (except children's books, dictionaries and thesauruses), briefcases, envelopes, janitorial supplies, medical supplies or supplies used in a trade or business.
Now, if it's such a fabulous idea for a few days in August, why not the rest of the year? Better yet, why not follow the lead of Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon, which have NO state sales tax at all and are doing pretty well? Why the General Assembly couldn’t just pass lasting, across-the-board tax relief for the middle and lower classes that this ponzi scheme is aimed at is anyone’s guess. And if anyone is Alan Essig (aka “my hero”), executive director of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, they could argue that “it would make more sense to invest that money in supplies and materials in schools than to give the minimal benefit to folks.”

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Proponents have argued that tax holidays are good for getting people into stores because shoppers tend to pick up products that are taxed on top of the items on their shopping lists.

But Essig said there's no evidence to support that analysis. Tax holidays are good politics, he said, but not necessarily sound fiscal policy.

He added that some stores may hold off on sales (on the tax-free) weekend because they know the tax break will draw customers in anyway.

“People think they're getting a great deal,” he said. “The real question is, if you shop the week after, do you get a better deal?”

So, back to school with the teacher-wife. What $100 bought:

Pencils - CHECK

Notebooks - CHECK

Copious amounts of sanitizing supplies - CHECK, CHECK, CHECK

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It's not just the South that has teachers who can't spell, trust me!
I got my Republican ex-workmate in a lathering froth one day by suggesting that teachers as a whole were underpaid. The way he reacted, you'd have thought I was supporting Castro for president. As if his dipshit daughter made it to UNM all by herself.
I feel for your wife. I really, really do. And every other teacher in a Republican controlled state. Ohio's schools have been going down hill fast. There are many schools declaring bankruptcy and going under control of the state's CEO (or whatever it's called). Many schools that have been trying to get levies passed are doing so for the first time- and failing. The Ohio Supreme Court declared our school funding unconstitutional, and still the legislature did nothing.

So, Ohio voted in some Blue to the state house and Gov. Strictland is really trying to get this monster under control. It's pitiful, really, what's happened here.

At any rate, the gc that your state generously provided the teachers is laughable and insulting to the students and the teachers. What the hell kind of bullshit is that? I really hope that Georgia doesn't go the way of Ohio and that the citizens stop these idiots before they do real damage to those kids- and their teachers.

Forgive me if I made no sense. Please.:)
But, hey, no child is left behind, right?

Here in good ole' Mass., the tax-free weekend approaches. We can buy ANYTHING under $2500, so they didn't make restrictions. YOu can imagine the deluge of ads for tax-free savings of all kinds. Why, Mrs. O'T could've purchased some envelopes, too!

When we lived in FL, our son's school supply list was vast, including things like "a ream of copy paper," and paper towels, and kleenex, in addition to the usual crayons, pencils, etc. I was surprised to move up here to a school suppy list that was only 3 or 4 items long.

It's a shame that teachers have to supply things for their classrooms with their own cash. Do most people buy their own office supplies? Do the cops buy their own cars? Does the Governor buy his own paper?
Not having children, I have no direct contact with schools, teachers, etc. Though I have many (perhaps a disproportionate amount) of friends involved in the Ed Biz - from pre-school through University level - so I do come into indirect contact regarding the problems.

They are many and varied and I won't bore you (further) with any of it here.

My real reason for commenting was because of the title. It makes me giggle. Very good. Very good.

Ook ook
Miz UV - Yes, my beacon of grammar is tireless in its universal search for error.

Joe - A Republican in a froth? How rare. And a lathering ex-workmate, no less. I recall on another occasion where my stand on teachers got things in our little corner of Blogovia all sudsy.

nat - You and your blue state luxuries!

Fez - Thanks. Muse smacked me upside muh hee-yed when I pondered going with "School Daze."
Ah, yes, a blast from the past. But there's new suds in the bubble bath now. Come on over.
i've always been gung-ho for raising the state sales tax and then getting ride of the payroll taxes...that way EVERYONE has to pay taxes. But.. then I read this and began pondering no sales tax (like I loved so much in nearby (to philly) Delaware). Now I don't know where I stand. Gee, thanks Tim. =P
I was gonna comment on this, but then I just went back and re-read that old post of yours, and found that what I'd written then was apropos to today's post. so I'm just cutting and pasting because I'm in the middle of a sneeze attack:

My better half's a teacher too -- elementary special ed. I have immense respect for anyone in the profession. Yes, even the average teachers. While there are absolutely bad teachers out there -- just like there are bad doctors and bad cops and bad priests and bad social workers -- one thing is certain; none of them are doing it for money, glory or power. Government, parents, school boards and school administrations are the ones who have screwed up public school systems across the country, not the teachers. They believe so wholeheartedly in their purpose that they put in countless hours before and after the regular work day, they spend tons of their own money on teaching aids the district can't/won't pay for, and they have to hear the broken record refrain of "But you get your summers off" which, as any teacher will tell you, is so far from the actual case it's laughable. So I salute your wife and every other teacher out there.
Hey O'Tim,
Just wanted to say I'm sorry for how things ended up. I've really enjoyed your writing, and greatly appreciate your contributions to Boiled Dinner. Best of luck with your working from home, and your adorable son. I hope to see you in comments and on Film Freaks.

It was great meeting you and yours. I used my 100 to buy technology- wireless keyboard and headset mike. I hope to do some pod casting this year. And like your better half I bought 180 spiral notebooks.
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