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Will teach pupils for pulp

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Budget constraints spur plea for paper

By John Pawlak

Being a teacher can be frustrating.  
Meetings with parents after school, tutoring sessions, late nights and weekends spent preparing lessons, constructing tests, grading tests, getting really depressed over test grades – it’s all part of the job and as masochistic as it sounds, I love it.
But there are things that do get you down. For instance, paper.  Yeah, those 8 1/2 by 11 inch flexible flash drives we use for kinesthetic education.  
Maybe you remember these from before the computer age?
You hold a stylus (called a pencil) in your hand and enter data (called writing) onto the information pad (called a piece of paper).
Teachers employ every possible means of communication in our arsenal. We draw on the board. We project on the screen. We dance and sing out melodies of learning in the hopes they will hear us.
And of course, we hand out written material.  Written on paper, not on Abraham Lincoln style slate boards.
But now I find myself walking the streets begging for alms.
Perhaps you’ve seen me before? I’m the guy wearing the sign, “Will teach pupils for pulp.”
Last year, the school budget was cut again. Getting nickel’d and dime’d to death is bad enough, but they really hit us low this time.  They cut our Xerox paper budget.
After slashing our Xerox budget, we teachers were then asked to beg for paper.  
It was suggested that we tell our students that they should each bring in a ream of Xerox paper.
Okay, how can I say this without getting profane? This makes me feel like a horse’s patootie.  
Well, actually, more like what comes out that patootie.
How do you think it feels to stand up in front of a class and beg for paper? Uh, class? Could you do me a big favor and please, please, please bring in a ream of Xerox paper so I can do my job?
Reality may be harsh, but it’s real. We need paper and to be quite honest, I simply don’t want to genuflect to my class and pray for paper.  
I’m using projectors and computers and even wikis to cut down on paper usage, but I can’t do my job without using it.
It must be very confusing to young teenagers for them to see a brand new school built at the same time we tell them that we can’t afford paper.
So I figure I’ll do my begging before the school year begins.
If it would help, I could ask the editor to insert a picture of me looking contrite and mournful.
You know, maybe Photoshop myself to have big pathetic anime eyes?
We teachers need paper. It has to be good quality 20-pound Xerox-brand paper.
Other paper can jam the Xerox machines. Our school usually buys the 4200 paper.
I know it’s a terrible imposition and money is just as tight for families as it is for the schools. But paper shortage or not, I simply can’t eliminate the paper I use for my students.  Whiteboards are good. Computers are great. Projection of material on the screen is very nice, too.
I’m the first to promote the use of technology in our classrooms.
Nothing beats bringing the teacher an applet in the morning.  Still, to learn math, we eventually find ourselves falling back to ancient technology.  
I need to hand out notes and review sheets and practice tests that my students can carry with them.
I need to able to individualize material presentations and I use paper handouts to help do that.  With 10 dozen students over 180 school days, it adds up to a lot of paper.
I would beg for alms, but I need paper instead.
I’m hoping that this shameful advertisement of mine will prompt some of you to pick up a ream or two (a box would be even better) and drop it off at the high school’s main office.
Or have your kid drop it off at my room after the year begins.  
I’ll make sure some other poor teacher begging at the corner gets her or his share of paper cuts.
 
 John Pawlak
 Los Alamos columnist