School bells will soon ring across Alabama and teachers are working hard to get their classrooms ready for a new batch of smiling faces. (And some who may not be smiling.)
Seems that every few days I get an email from these folks encouraging me to help a teacher needing funding for a special project. After each donation I get an email saying, “Hooray, you’ve done it again!” To date I have four, each tucked away till next year’s tax season.
Donors Choose is the brainchild of Charles Best, who came up with it while teaching history in the Bronx in 2000. To date, 3.2 million donors have given more than $706 million and funded more than one million projects in schools across the country. You can go on the site and find schools in your community.
There are 42 projects listed at elementary schools in Montgomery and 976 at elementary schools in the state.
However, every time I get an appeal from Montgomery I can’t help but think of the $100,000 a political action committee has now spent trying to handpick our next school board. Would all the contributors to this effort have been as quick to write a check to help a teacher better supply her classroom? And if helping public schools is really what Montgomery is all about right now, wouldn’t something like this also be a worthwhile endeavor?
Instead, we have teachers who might as well be standing on the corner with tin cup asking for money while we write big checks to out-of-state political consultants who specialize in negative campaign ads.
I also think about the Alabama Accountability Act that has now diverted almost $147 million from the Education Trust Fund since 2013 to give vouchers for private school scholarships. When you do the math, that amounts to about $9,400 for every elementary classroom in Alabama.
I encourage you to check out Donors Choose and help a teacher in whatever way you can. And don’t forget to tell a politician what you have done.