I agree with all of the WTU’s points here regarding Walmart’s well-financed efforts to undermine public education. Their latest back to school gimmick is a cynical ploy to feign support for public school teachers, while offering very little of actual value in return.

A quote from a charter school supporter is particularly interesting:

“All of our schools are funded on a per-pupil basis,” said Irene Holtzman, executive director of Friends of Choice in Urban Schools, a D.C. charter-school advocacy organization. “Charters are not taking away money from DCPS.”

We could certainly debate how much money is being diverted from public to charter schools on the whole. Yet, there is no denying that some money is being diverted from the traditional, public system when appreciable numbers of students are removed from charters after “count day,” and the money is retained by the charter. It does not follow the student, even on a pro-rated basis.

Then, from DCPS:

“DCPS has increased our investments in schools every year for the last five years to ensure that our schools and classrooms have the materials needed for high-quality teaching and learning,” spokeswoman Michelle Lerner said. “We also provide every teacher with $200 to supply their individual classrooms with school supplies.”

I do appreciate the Office Depot gift card every year. It helps a little, but this is a tremendous deal for Office Depot, where you can’t get the best deals. You end up spending more on the basics since you can’t shop around.

I’d also like to recommend any DCPS official read my evolving and updated back to school shopping list, nothing of which being purchased with that handy little card. It’s all out of pocket. If we had everything we needed, I wouldn’t be doing this.

But let’s talk about the materials that I supposedly have to teach. Let’s not dither over pencils and folders. What about the big ticket items? When will DCPS replace my cracked tables and bent chairs? I had a table leg come off last year.

Will DCPS replace my rugs that cost roughly $400 apiece? No? Then I’ll have to do what I do every year: get down on my hands and knees and scrub them clean with a brush because our custodial staff doesn’t have the equipment to clean them. One year I rented, again out of my pocket, a carpet cleaning machine from Home Depot. Maybe I’ll have to do a wet/dry vacuum this year.

For me, vacuuming the rat turds doesn’t cut it. You kind of have to scrub the hell out of the area, right? I mean, that’s the proper thing to do.

I definitely didn’t notice when I first participated in anti-standardized testing activism. It wasn’t until I got back into the classroom, teaching in a low-income community of color, that I wondered if the opting out message would resonate.

In the most beleaguered public schools, the anti-test message didn’t seem to gain any traction. A new survey from Teachers College seems to partly confirm that the typical anti-test activist is white, female, and relatively affluent.  

There’s a great deal of work to do. I’ll have to review the report more carefully. But a quick view of some of the survey data reveals that the vast majority of respondents are from Florida and New York.

Interesting. Maybe not the most diverse sample, or is this pretty typical?

Another question I have, ultimately, is who gets to make the claim that they are an opt out activist? Pinning down any social movement is difficult. You’re privileging folks who have robust social media presence and consistent internet connections in order to respond to the surveys. Or those that don’t have tough, hourly jobs that give them time to complete random surveys. Opt out groups were also given the surveys and sent them out to respondents themselves, which is also seems like a self-reporting bias, maybe? No?

Whatever the limitations, the report does confirm, somewhat, what I’ve suspected for some time now.

Below is a list of what I’ve bought to date for the new school year. I thought I’d share it to underscore the amount of preparation that some of us do, even before we step foot in our classrooms and make an accurate appraisal of what we actually do and don’t need to replace. I’d like to hear more about your preparations if you’re willing to share them.

Stuffed coyote toy
I am Yoga (book)
City Shapes (book)
Six milk crates
Memory foam sheets
PVC piping
Bulk metal washers
Bulk nuts and bolts set
Large nuts and bolts
Small wrenches
Pine craft wood pieces
Red Resin paper roll
Chalk removable labels
Multi colored neon pockets
Spray paint
Chalkboard paint
Glue gun
6 boxes markers
8 boxes crayons
Craft paint (for table)
Responsive Classroom books (x3)
Wood chime
Bulletin board border
Painters Tape
200 Marbles
Laminating sheets
Foam mats
Cork board
Street play tape
Broom and dust pan

IKEA Plastic bin
IKEA Lack table
2 play construction safety vests
2 stuffed animals
2 laundry baskets
18 plastic bowls
Wood train set
3 seat cushions

3 rolls colored duct tape
1 quart freezer bags
Disinfectant wipes
Cleaning brush
Carpet cleaner

Washington, DC’s Ron Brown College Prep High School has opened this year, an all boys program. Why does it always come to this nonsense? What is this?

The students are required to wear jackets and ties to school. So on Tuesday, Green was guiding them through a session on dressing appropriately, maintaining personal hygiene, polishing shoes, choosing the right coat hangers and presenting themselves as men of learning.

Whose version of manhood or masculinity is this? Of all the priorities, choosing the right coat hangers.

“Men don’t wear clip-on ties.”

What is a “man of learning?” I have a PhD and probably own two ties. I don’t even really know how to tie one. I have to look it up online before I wear one, which is probably between once and never a year. In fact, the more “learned” you become, the less likely you have to wear a tie. Has anyone ever attended an academic conference, of all very learned people? You’ll probably see more Tevas and socks than you will see ties. That’s perfectly fine because, within certain limits, I don’t care what you’re wearing. If your message is good, it’s good. If it’s not, bow tie or not, it’s not.

Sure, where a tie and you’ll be a man of work, a man of the office. But learning, not necessarily.

What I want to also see is a complementary push for learned women. All of this nonsense just smacks of the old Carlisle Indian Schools. Remember those?

As if respectability is going to overcome dramatic inequities built within the system itself.



As this Atlantic article laments, students are lacking a robust character education.

This has everything to do with the strong push for growth in math and reading since NCLB, continued under RTTT, and now will likely progress under ESSA. (Who can keep track of these acronyms?)

Obsession over growth in math and reading only will come at the expense of social studies, and other academic subjects. From my experience, I have seen first hand even the marginalization of science. Only the earnest push for STEM in recent years has slightly revitalized science education.