When Betsy DeVos was first confirmed as the secretary of education, she began her first day at work with a tweet that read, "Day 1 on the job is done, but we’re only getting started. Now where do I find the pencils?" Twitter responded as only the Twitter-verse could, reminding DeVos that most public school teachers have to buy their own supplies. Now that H.R. 610 has been introduced in the House and state's public school budgets will be cut even further in the name of a voucher program, many teachers will need more help than ever. Thankfully, if you want to pitch in, there are tons of ways to help public school teachers — and whether H.R. 610 passes or not, they'll definitely appreciate it.
Parents are probably already doing a lot to assist school teachers just by participating in school events and loading up on the ever-growing lists of supplies that teachers request students come prepared with every school year. Although it can be expensive (and stressful) to stock up on your own kid's supplies, classrooms are a lot more than just a giant stash of notebooks, colored pencils, and multi-colored homework folders.
Many teachers simply aren't supplied with classroom library materials, tools for science projects, and all the other good stuff that makes learning fun. And it's not just material goods either; Public school teachers also need support as advocates of the school voucher program trash-talk "underperforming" schools (even though in many cases performance can be linked to budgeting, but let's not digress).
Here's how you can help ease those burdens.
There are lots of ways to donate to teachers, but one of the best ways is through DonorsChoose, where teachers list classroom projects and other needs. Most of the donations requested are small increments, so even $10 can help out. You can pick one at random, or ask your teacher friends on Facebook to guide you in the right direction, but it's a secure and easy way to make sure your donation goes directly to a classroom in need.
Attend A School Board Meeting
Even if you aren't a parent, what happens in your area schools can affect you. Most districts hold public meetings once a month, so show up and get informed on what's going in your community and what teachers are fighting for.
Write Your Reps
I know, we all sound like a broken record these days, but letting your reps know how you feel about H.R. 610 while they're fighting for it could help. Remember, midterm elections aren't that far off and pleasing constituents matters. Once legislators realize that they might not win their district, they might change their attitude.
Pay For Lunch
Most schools have a list of students who, for whatever reason, are behind on their lunch payments. Some school districts let children keep a tab, but other times, kids who are behind will get just a cheese sammie and some milk. H.R. 610 also stipulates that states can reconfigure their nutrition requirements for schools and get rid of free and reduced lunch programs. By stepping in and bridging that gap yourself, not only will you help out a family in need, you'll show school districts that the community cares and that it's worth letting students run tabs (because debt will be paid off). More importantly, you'll fill a kid's belly. School lunch is sometimes the only guaranteed meal a child has throughout the day — and it improves their attention so they succeed in the classroom (and don't get fidgety for the teacher).
If you're a parent, it's easy to volunteer. But many school districts also allow community members to volunteer for certain things, too, provided they meet all the requirements. You might help the librarian, supervise recess or the lineups for buses. If you want to lend a hand at a school, it's worth asking. Because if you're not on lunch duty or overseeing after-school homework help, a teacher is. And teachers need a break.
Another thing you can do? Ask. Check with your local teachers union to see what they need — even if it's just helping them hand out flyers or signing a petition. Call a local school and see what they could use, what teachers need, what after-school programs could use financial help or some extra manpower. If H.R. 610 passes, schools and teachers will need as much help as they can get. So it's time to roll up your sleeves and get at it.