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Posts Tagged ‘School’

  1. Calculated

    September 14, 2015 by admin


    School is now in full swing. Back to school shopping has been completed.  Paperwork has been filled out and filed.  Extraneous school fees for things like orchestra, sports, etc., have somehow been paid.  You breathe a sigh of relief and get ready for the typical drama that any new school year brings as your child navigates friendships and homework.

    51555_calc_machine_mdAnd then your kid comes home and declares, “I need a graphing calculator for math.”  Ummm…okay.  We don’t recall seeing that on the supply list but we’ll get right on it.  We can find a calculator at any type of Dollar Store, Walgreens, etc.  No problem!  And then reality hits.  A quick google search shows that the average price of a graphing calculator is around $100.

    We can swing $100 but it is an unexpected major blow to our budget.  And since we are hard hit by this expense, we can only imagine that many families find the purchase simply impossible.  There are some free, and some low cost, apps of graphic calculators.  But purchasing apps works on the assumption that all families have unlimited access to the web and that teachers will allow personal devices, like iPhones or iPads, in their classrooms.

    No family should be faced with an unaffordable educational purchase that is required for the successful completion of a class.  And no child should have to deal with the embarrassment of figuring out how to ask the school for charity.

    We live under constant bombardment of news stories and politicking calling for increased attention to STEM (Science/ Technology/ Engineering/ Math) curricula in schools.  Students are taught on a daily basis that success in these fields is vital for their future careers.  (Setting aside for the moment the question of whether a STEM focus is the best direction for schools to be heading…)  How is a student supposed to find success in STEM classes if they aren’t given the tools required to learn those topics within our public schools?

    It doesn’t have to be this way.  If our nation values STEM classes, then our nation must also value getting a graphing calculator into the hands of any student who needs one.

    So we reach out to:

    • Mayim Bialik:  Actress, Doctor, and brand amabassador for Texas Instruments Education Technology.
    • STEM Education Coalition:  Working diligently to educate on the critical role STEM education plays in the US.
    • Bill Gates:  Founder of Microsoft and philanthropist.
    • Vi Hart:  Recreational mathemusician.
    • Danica McKellar: PhD Mathematician, Author of math books including “Math Doesn’t Suck” and “Hot X”, Actress


    This is our starting list of influencers we call upon to join this cause.

    Here’s our proposal:

    Let’s work together to create a national program that puts a graphing calculator in the hands of any child age 12 – 18 for free.  If a family can make a donation when they pick up their absolutely free graphing calculator, great!  And if they can donate back their free graphing calculator at the end of their schooling career- fantastic!  But nothing will be required to pick up a free graphing calculator beyond proof of age.  It seems like such an attainable goal.

    And so very necessary.

    Who’s with us? We know there are many people (more than listed above!) passionate about education, math, and closing the severe educational gap caused in part by economic disparities. Local and far flung friends, let’s get this done for all kids in this country!

    We will keep you updated with our progress as we move forward and as we find other possible solutions to this national issue.  Every student should be able to pursue STEM classwork as far as their interests and aptitudes take them.  No child should find a door closed to them because they lack the immediate resources to buy the tools needed to succeed.

  2. Hungry Kids

    November 15, 2013 by admin


    We worry about the hungry people in our community- especially the kids.  More than 16 million kids in America are food insecure.  For many of these children, school is the only place they’ll get a chance to eat.

    Whether a student is food insecure or not, it is well established that proper nutrition is part of the path to success in school.

    But not all schools are working effectively to ensure all kids are fed enough to be ready to learn.

    If you haven’t read Ms. Catherine Capellaro’s article on recent incidents in a Madison school cafeteria, we strongly encourage you to do so now!    A child is not only not given lunch, but that untouched lunch is then thrown in the trash.

    How on earth is it okay to have a policy that leaves a child hungry and tosses perfectly “good” food in a garbage pail?  What message does this send to the students of our schools, when employees would rather throw out edible food than allow a kid to eat?  It tells those kids that they are worth less than a plate of spaghetti.  Less than a hamburger.

    We strongly urge all of you to contact the Madison Metropolitan School District to protest this absurd policy that ranks throwing away perfectly good food above giving a kid the food they need to grow.  And we encourage you to check on your own school’s policy.  A quick Google search shows that this is happening across our Nation.

    Tip1:  contact information if you wish to protest locally –

    We further urge you into action on a national scale: it is time for this Nation to declare that young people are valuable.   No student in any school should go hungry because of some random policy, or because a form wasn’t properly signed, or because their parents weren’t able to add more money to their child’s account swiftly enough.

    Tip2:  Use this page to find the email, phone or postal contacts for elected officials at the state and national level –

    Young people don’t often know all the routes to gain access to food.  They rely on adults around them to steer them in the right direction, and to ensure that they are fed.


  3. School Days

    August 28, 2012 by admin

    School starts here next week and we are shocked and dismayed at the high level of fees required to get our elementary student into ‘free’ public school.  What is going on here?

    Public school is defined as:  “a free tax-supported school controlled by a local governmental authority.”  But we’ve moved quite far from “free” in this country.   When we were grammar school students (not too long ago), all that was expected was that you’d arrive to school with a couple of pencils and a small box of crayons, maybe a notebook.  Fees crept in at the higher grades- a gym uniform, musical instrument rentals, small-lab fees in chemistry.  But even then, they were pretty manageable.  No more.

    Our Plum pays $35 to register for school.  She is then charged $5 for school supplies.  Separate from these fees is a  classroom supply list, which could ring up to over $25 in additional costs.  Why are we paying for school supplies while also being asked to purchase school supplies?  It’s like bringing your own coffee grounds, milk, and cup to Starbucks to then pay them $6 to make you a cappuccino.  Insane.

    Apparently, students in some school have it much worse.  But the fact that people have it worse somewhere else is never an excuse for injustice.

    Plum attends an urban school in a very diverse neighborhood.  We are not at all poor when compared to many in our surrounding community.   But we do struggle to make ends meet in our family.  We do without many perks that other people take for granted.  We find it hard to hand over approximately $60 at the start of the year.  If Plum wants to take violin this year, we’ll need to scrounge up an additional $50.  And any school trips will be extra as well, usually around $5 a pop.  We are able to cut here, and tighten there, to pay for these fees.   But how do our struggling neighbors pay for their kids’ public education?  We know many of Plum’s classmates are concerned about putting food on the table, let alone paying for public school.  We realize there is a waiver that can be applied for at the start of each school year.  But why should people have to seek out a financial waiver in order to attend public school?  Attending school should be a given right, not something that anyone has to argue or struggle to do.

    As Plum ages into middle school and high school, these fees will become much larger.  And if she plans to participate in any social activities, the fees will become exorbitant for our family.  So now, as people used to only have to do for college tuition, we’ll begin saving away for her middle school and high school year fees.  It is anyone’s guess how we’ll prepare for the cost of college at the same time.