On educational equity and classroom decoration

I encountered an argument today that I thought was interesting and also kind of caught me by surprise, and I wanted to talk about it here both as a means of wrapping my head around it a little bit and to see if anyone else has any thoughts on it.

Every year I spend, conservatively, several hundred dollars on my classroom– either for basic supplies like pencils and paper, wall decorations that will probably last through the year, and on occasion more long-term, expensive items like my laser printer. Some years are more expensive than others, of course– any year where I change classrooms or subjects is gonna be bad– and even this year, when I’m not actually in the building yet, I still shelled out a chunk of change for items to improve the lighting in my office, a new mic stand, and a few similar things.

(I have a classroom wish list, which I’m pretty sure does not expose my real name; I link to it not because I want you to buy me things right now but so you can get an idea of what sorts of things I’m talking about.)

This teacher’s argument was that we should not be spending our own money on items for our classrooms. That, in and of itself, I’ve heard before and thought before, plenty of times, and the basic reasons for it are obvious. No other job, or at least none that I’m aware of, expects employees to pay for the basic services and tools necessary to do that job. My job is supposed to make me money, not cost me money, and blah blah whining about teacher pay.

No, her argument was different: that we should not be spending money on our own classrooms, because it creates an equity issue among the staff and among the students. So if Teacher A can afford whatever they want to put in their classroom and creates a magical learning wonderland by spending a bunch of money, and Teacher B is a new teacher who is struggling with student loans and isn’t getting paid jack, Teacher B’s students are going to get a lesser learning experience through no fault of Teacher B’s, when the fact is the state should be funding the rooms properly in the first place and making every classroom a magical learning wonderland. This is particularly an issue at the primary level, where there might be three fourth grade classrooms and the kids are with the same teacher all day.

And I’ll admit, part of me wants to dismiss this idea immediately and part of me thinks it has some merit. As a math teacher that every 8th grader in my building is going to see, it’s less of a concern for my situation, because all of them will be in my magical learning wonderland for a class period a day regardless of whether I spend a ton of money or not. But I can see this mattering at the elementary level. Then again, there is already going to be a certain level of educational inequality from classroom to classroom simply because of the composition of the classes and the skill and experience level of the teacher. We’ve all wanted to be (or have our kids) in a certain class with a certain teacher or h ad one who for whatever reason we’d rather avoid, and sometimes that’s the breaks.

This is, I think, less an argument against the actions of any one specific teacher and on stronger footing as an argument against the system itself. We all know the arguments about the ways we fund schools and what, as a society, we prioritize and what we don’t, and the simple fact of the matter is that the wealthy teachers shouldn’t need to use their money to spruce up their classrooms, particularly in a situation like we’re seeing now, where we see that some teachers are literally creating carrel desks out of plexiglass so that their rooms are safer from the plague. So we’ve got teacher income inequality leading to situations where, at least in theory, students are literally physically safer than in others.

That is bullshit, as I think we can all agree, and I’m not going to fall into the usual rant about how little America actually values education beyond paying barely-understood lip service. Throw a rock on this website; you’ll probably find one. But does the argument in general have merit?

Some, I think, but I still need to think about it more. What say you, commenters?

In which we finish a project

The boy’s room is done! All we need to do now is get all of his shit out of my room and my office and put it back in his! And that’s his problem! Hooray!

The final project was to get the curtains up; I’m going to be honest: I was scared of this, as getting things that require drilling multiple holes and using drywall anchors straight, level, and even is not something that I’ve ever been very good at. I’m not gonna promise that this is contractor-quality measurement but neither of us can see anything wrong looking at it and frankly that’s all I care about.

The other corner, with a couple more of the trees. We bought him a new bed– I managed to destroy his old bed frame, don’t ask– but it won’t be here until September so for now the box springs and mattress are just on the floor.

CONTROVERSIAL DECISION: we decided to leave his door and the closet door alone. While neither of us liked the yellow in the room, with everything repainted I actually like how they look, and since they would have been a pain in the ass to paint anyway we decided to stick with the original color. I don’t love how it looks next to the white furniture but whatever.

We need to get him another lamp today, because the room is a bit darker than it used to be, but that’s the last touch.

EDIT: I have been informed there has been a decor change since I’ve started typing this.

Each of the six trees now contains a Porkachorp. I feel very bad for this one, who only wants the little birdie to be his friend:

As it works out, this is the one you’re looking straight at if you’re standing in the doorway of his room looking from the hallway, so I can look forward to this haunting me for the rest of the time I live in this house.

(Also, my wife and I have both noticed that our cameras are having a hell of a time with the green color; the best look at what it actually looks like is the brighter corner of green in the top picture. If the room is dark, the darker leaves go blue, which is *fascinating*.)

The classroom’s coming along

How the hell do I only have one more day until school starts?  Christ.IMG_2843

In previous classrooms the Hulks have lived near or behind my desk.  About 80% of those were gifts from students and a few of them are actually handmade.  We’ll see if I can trust these current classes to not mess with my stuff.  Crossing fingers.


Bulletin board, front of room, to the right of the whiteboard.  Plan is for the girls to add other professions to the extra space; there’s room to put pictures to the right of the bulletin board.  The mirrors are held on with Velcro.  I’m kinda proud of this one.


My desk, such as it is.  Note three different computers in use at the same time, which is not atypical.  And one of these days I should probably tell the story of the green thing on the wall back there; I think it might entertain you.


Data walls, calculators.  Pbbbbbbbbt.

IMG_2844And the rest of the room.  The desks and tables are where I want them but there’s still a lot of organization to be done, as well as at least one more decoration thing that’s going above the whiteboard and will take a couple of hours.

Maybe I can convince the boss to let me come in on Sunday, no one but a teacher ever thought.