Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Dear Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,
I am so glad you stopped by to leave your comments today. This gives me a perfect opportunity to bring this issue up again so I thank you for reminding me. I wanted to reach out to you but you left no contact information or even a name... I would love to share your thoughts with my teacher friends since you posted it on my comments. I think maybe if you could hear me out, you may understand a little better.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Dear Staples":

Seriously? All of you teachers think that the Staples company OWES you their loss-leader Back-to-School deals in unlimited quantities? 
Not exactly, I do not feel that Staples owes me anything at all. I never said that in the letter I wrote to them. Did you happen to read the letter? I just simply asked if the policy could be changed, that's all. I asked if we could get a class set just like last year.
Do you know what a loss-leader is, or have any idea the man-hours and logistics it takes to keep a big box retail store fully stocked and operating during the busy periods that you yourselves compare to Black Friday? 
 Sorry friend, I can't say that I have been a part of a loss-leader. Not so sure Staples lost anything on me last year since I had to spend at least five dollars in other merchandise to get the extreme deals. I believe that on each sale, I spent at least twenty dollars.

Admit that you enjoyed the sales when they produced tremendous savings.
I already did say that I was thankful and thrilled when I was able to get Math Notebooks, Writing Notebooks, Science Notebooks, pencils and folders for my class because I needed these materials to TEACH. I blogged about it and told every teacher I know about it. Yes, I was happy because I knew my class was taken care of.
  But now your sense of entitlement (to those savings) is combining with your martyr complex (that you must spend your own money on your students supplies) to put Staples in a bad PR position. 
Friend, I did not put Staples in a bad PR position. I am a Kindergarten teacher not a world leader. My letter to them was asking if they would change the policy because I thought they did not understand how it would impact a classroom teacher. Read the letter. And yes, like so many other teachers everywhere, we spend our own money on supplies for our classrooms it's a fact for many different reasons.
I say, cut Staples some slack. They're a business trying to make a buck on very narrow margins. It isn't heir job to step in and fix the problems with teachers' inadequate pay, or address your school systems' (obviously) incompetent purchasing methods.

Once again, I am a Kindergarten teacher working with narrow margins myself and that is why it is important to me to save where I can so I can bring more to my classroom...because I LOVE my job. And if it takes writing a letter and asking for help, I am happy to do it.

Because the truth is that your school districts could negotiate "Extreme Discount" savings with school supplies distributors, easily, and much more economically than any retail chain store can. Examine the reasons why your school districts can't/wont do this. Explore alternatives, like wholesale purchasing through your unions, or a charitable school supplies drive through your PTA.
I am a person who believes in looking at alternatives. I have spent COUNTLESS hours writing grants for my classroom. I am PROUD to say I have earned just shy of $20,000 for educational materials for my classroom, grade level and school. I have no Union. I have no PTA. I am the alternative.

Finally, teach responsibility to these parents by *requiring* that students be supplied for their projects, and start giving Fs for any assignments left incomplete due to lack of supplies.
I am not sure how to respond to this... Our job is to teach children and set them up for success not failure. How can we hold a five year old responsible for school supplies? Many children are on free and reduced lunch. What's going to happen when children fail for no supplies with your system. Handing out F's is not the answer.
  The first few Fs could be "warning shots", and could be erased after supplies are provided. Have a conversation with parents whose kids remain unsupplied, and tell them to ask grandma, grandpa, uncle, and auntie for help getting school supplies.
Grandma, grandpa and uncle and auntie ARE the parents of some of these children... And asking for supplies again and again never helped because sometimes families just can't. There has been a time in my life when I just couldn't afford school supplies. I paid my way through college and my Biology professor loaned me his Biology book in my last few semesters in college. I made a promise then that I would help a student who needed supplies just like he helped me.

  Direct them to Staples during Extreme Discount times, and to social services and church agencies that can help out. If there are still a couple of kids who can't get supplies after all that, you need to get the school counselor and the principal involved.
I work with some of the best administrators and they ARE involved. We all pitch in through various programs and sometimes it is not enough and it comes down to teachers, administrators, counselors, librarians and school nurses who make up the difference. And in some schools it is more than a couple of kids who just can't afford supplies.
 Addressing the systemic reasons that some or most of your kids can't come to class prepared with school supplies is their job, not yours.
Friend, when I am in a class of 22 Kindergarten kids it is ME who is responsible for making sure they have what they need. Can you imagine a class of 22 Kinder kids all day without the proper supplies?

Or rather, it *was* your job, when it only cost you 45-50 bucks a year, and landing all those savings was a fun outing for you and your colleagues.
I wish I could tell you that it only costs 45-50 bucks a year but I would be telling a fib. In fact, it is much much more to do the job right and I still love it. And it still is my job to make sure they have what they need because when you work with children day in and day out you become a family. We care about each other and take care of each other and if that means I have to buy school supplies or write a letter asking for a class set...ok no big deal.
 But now it costs more, and instead of getting all up on a cross in front of Staples, you need to try something new. Good luck.
Thanks for wishing me luck. I have been blessed in my life to be able to do what I love each day and I am sure things will work out just fine... 




Mrs. Reimann said...

You are so awesome! I wish the public at large really understood, you were clear in your letter and other posts but some still don't get it.

Thank you for what you have done in asking Staples to reconsider.

Little Treasures

Glitzy In First Grade said...

You go girl!!! Proud of you! AMEN!!

We Teach Like A Rockstar said...

Thanks for sharing this post. You are very well spoken and I believed everything you said. You touch many lives and that is what is important! Others should see the positive in this instead of the negative. Only if the world didn't work around I do not have that and you should not either...but...I am proud of you...can you help me get that, too!

Melody said...

I just stumbled across your blog while blog hopping and all I have to say is AMEN! It continues to shock me how clueless some people are about what great need these children have and that children cannot help the fact that they do not have the means to provide school supplies.

Jessica said...

Well said friend!!! That is EXACTLY why we are meant to be teachers. We have empathy--- we can see through other's eyes, not just our own. My school is lucky enough to have churches in our area who donate school supplies to our school because approx. 95% of our students are on free reduced lunch. If I were to have the attitude that "parents have to get all their supplies or they don't get anything"- How on earth would some of our students complete a writing assignment without pencils and a notebook? Or how would the get all their papers home with no backpack. I am sorry- but I will NOT make my students OR their parents feel bad for not being able to afford all the school supplies. Times are hard... and if you think you have it rough... imagine someone who can't afford enough food for their family each week. As a single girl with a full-time job- I struggle at the end of each month... so I can only imagine how hard it is for my students' families. Thank you for representing teachers so well with your well thought out words! You are an inspiration! =)

mrsjanellebush said...

Thank you for writing the letter to Staples. Someone needed to do it. There are people that take advantage of sales but a limit of 5 is crazy! What teacher only has 5 students in her class? The person that wrote the response to your post is probably an employee of Staples and is trying to justify what they are doing. This is just another example of greed on Staples part. Let's see how far their business goes when all teachers quit doing business with them. Maybe we can hit up their going out of business sales soon?????

Donna said...

Excellent response - very well said! Thank you for being such a strong and intelligent voice for those of us who share your view. "Anonymous" really made me laugh when he/she suggested that we use our Staples savings to go on outings with our colleagues...
Way to go!
Peace, Love & Learning

Jennifer K. said...

Thanks for posting this! I agree with you 100% - when most of my families can't afford food, how am I supposed to hold them accountable for crayons and scissors?! If Staples isn't going to help out this year, oh well, I guess I'll bring my business to Walmart who will price match or Office Depot which also has great sales. I bought stuff that wasn't on sale from Staples just because I happened to be in there getting sale items and I appreciated that they were helping out teachers by allowing us to purchase extra. I will just have to be extra careful with my back-to-school shopping - which means that most of my shopping will not be done at Staples this year unfortunately. But, it was worth a shot that Staples would actually listen and change their policy, so I thank you again for writing the letter for all of us!

Jennifer @ Herding Kats In Kindergarten

meadowt said...

Very well said! Apparently this person is NOT a teacher.

Debbie Lindeman said...

Wow!! I am sorry you had to take your time to respond to "anonymous" but oh my, I am so proud of you. Obviously this person doesn't realize "You mess with one us, you've got us all". However, I am so glad it was you to respond because I am not sure I could have had the restraint to respond as professionally as you did. You are so well spoken and answered each insult with dignity and grace. I am proud that you became the "voice" for so many us!! It is colleagues like you that make me proud to be a teacher. Your statements prove your heart is in the right place and your priorities are exactly where they need to be. I know your children are blessed to be in your class and we are blessed to have someone like you representing us to others who have no idea what it means to be a teacher!!! Take some time today to realize you are AWESOME!!! Thanks again!

Carrie Feldman said...

OMG! This person doesn't have a clue! It is so frustrating to know that we have idiots out there that think this way. If only they could walk a mile in our shoes...Thanks for sticking up for us teachers!


Terri Thornton said...

Who ever wrote this has obviously never been a teacher. Give them an 'F'....really? Most of my students are concerned about what they are going to eat for dinner. I couldn't imagine having them worry about how they are going to get through school tomorrow without a pencil!

jbales said...

Bless YOU, Little Miss Kindergarten! Your response was perfect. I think every teacher could relate to the frustration and love in it. You go, Girl! Thank you!

Chase Castle said...

I am really struggling with the comment anonymous made! WOW they just don't get it. I appreciate your willingness to "fight" for us teachers and I hope those that just don't understand someday will!

Anonymous said...

Well done Miss Kindergarten! It is quite obvious that "anonymous" has no idea what it is like to teach in an urban, title 1 school with a majority non-English speaking population in a state without unions. He or she has not walked a mile in your shoes yet still feels qualified to judge you. If anonymous did work in this setting he or she would know that there is no PTA- because the parents don't understand what it is and even if they did they are too busy working two jobs just to put food on the table and a roof over their children's heads to donate the $5 membership fee or their time. It must be nice to teach wherever he or she teaches or lives, it sounds like utopia. To anonymous I would suggest reading Ruby Payne's book Understanding the Framework of Poverty and anything by Ron Clark. Handing out a school supply list to parents in this area is a futile effort because many do not read or speak English. It's difficult to translate "Crayola" into 22 languages- the max I have had spoken in my room at one time and even if I did many of them couldn't read it anyway because they are illiterate in their native language. Anonymous, please let me know if there are any job openings in your school district because it must be nice to sit around all day surrounded by your nice shiny school supplies and judge others while the PTA does all the work.

Grace said...

Thanks for sharing. If people only knew what teachers do for their students on a daily basis then maybe people wouldn't make comments like they do. Thank you for all that you do!!

fsuamber said...

Good for you! This person is obviously not a teacher and has no idea what it takes to run a classroom. My question is why are they reading a teaching blog in the first place?

kteacher1968 said...

very good replies!geez looks like anonymous doesn't have as much to do this summer as teachers do! besides taking care of and spending time with our families we are already thinking about the coming school year and preparing as well as getting excited about it!some people are just negative and you can't argue with them! :)

Donalyn said...

Oh my, what a wonderful and positive person you are. I am always leery of people who will not own up to what they have written. Thank you for trying to explain your (our) side of the story. Just know you have a lot of great people supporting you. You are the best!

Tamara said...

En estos tiempos que corren donde los libros que podemos comprar por la crisis son escasos, desde nuestro blog ha salido la iniciativa de compartir los nuestros totalmente gratis... Eres una de las personas con las que queremos compartirlo, esperamos que te pases a recoger el regalo.

Un besazo.


Y feliz verano.

2 Crazy Texas Teachers said...

I am sorry you had to receive a comment like that! It was completely inappropriate. You handled yourself with class and represented our profession well!

Mary McGough said...

Thank you for sharing this post. They remain anonymous because they are ashamed of their comments. I had a child tell me this year he can ruin the Play-Dough because his dad helps to pay for it. Of course we know where this mentality comes from. I wrote a note explaining to the parent that the child was ruining supplies. I also nicely stated that I purchase this with my own money to support "fun" in my classroom for all children.
Dad sent in a large pack of Play=Dough : )

Heidi Butkus said...

That is one HE__ of a letter! Yikes! I, too, am sorry that you had to receive a comment like that. Thanks for handling yourself so well. You answered the questions well.
I do understand the point of view of the business a little better now that I own a "stone and mortar" business of my own. I can't imagine promising to give away five of anything to anyone that walks in, let alone 25 or 30! But then my business isn't anywhere NEAR the size of those office supply stores, so I don't even know what to say about it!
Office Depot still continues to give teachers 30 of everything at the "Wow" price- at least in my area.

Heidi Butkus

FirstGradeBlueSkies (Jennifer) said...

Wow! You gave great responses! I am not sure the other person has any idea of what it is like being a teacher.
First Grade Blue Skies

Lisa R. said...

Anonymous obviously has no idea how the education system works. We can't require parents to buy anything, because most of the time they can't afford it. I work in a school that is on 75% free & reduced lunch. If they can't afford food, how are they going to afford school supplies? In an ideal world, a class set of school supplies would only cost $45-50! Try spending $500-1000 a year & that's probably an understatement. Thank you for sticking up for our profession. It's sad how so many unvalue our profession, because they are so uneducated about what's really involved & required to provide a quality education for our students!
Learning Is Something to Treasure

Mrs. Lundquist said...

It sounds like anonymous needs to walk a day in someone else's shoes and take a happy pill! Your response was spot on!

Colleen said...

Wow, you handled that with much more tact than I would have! I am sure that he/she won't read these comments BUT in case, last year alone I stopped counting how much I spent on school when I hit $2000 out of pocket on books, supplies, etc for my classroom - 90% was spent at Staples. They lost nothing on me being a customer.

Lisa said...

When are people going to understand what teachers do for their students? A class without supplies is ridiculous to even contemplate. And the argument about getting the parents to go to Staples doesn't hold up. How would Staples lose money on a class set yet if all parents went and bought the extreme deal that would be okay cost wise?
Thanks for addressing this issue with such class!

Mrs. Katzman's Kinder Cubs said...

I am so sorry that someone felt the need to respond for Staples. You responded with grace and style.

Ms. Kerri said...

Wow! That's about all I can say to that person. I'm lucky enough to teach in a school where our PTA and some of our parents are willing to help the students out who don't have the means to do it themselves. But I've taught places where there is no PTA. I don't even know how much money I spend on my class and my new husband probably doesn't want to know. I'm fired up now.
Ms. Kerri and her Krazy Kindergarten

Emerson said...

Well said! I agree with EVERYTHING you said!!

Jessica Stanford said...

On behalf of all teachers out there I say thank you! Thank you for writing the letter to staple, thank you for responding to him/her with true class, and thank yo for posting this for the world to see! I wish that the world truly knew about our profession. One day in our life could possibly change the world :)


Jessica Stanford
Mrs. Stanford's Class
I hope that you'll join me for my giveaway ♥

Michelle said...

What a shame for this poster to make it out that poor poor staples loses moey on us! You were VERY professional in your answers...MUCH MORE than I would have been!!

When I added up my school receipts for this year, I realized that I spent $750.00!!! $60.00 of that money was for shoes and clothing that students didn't have, or were coming to school 2 sizes too small, and $140.00 of that was for FOOD that they DON'T have at home!! The other $500.00 or so was on supplies, snacks to coinside with what we are learning about, and more supplies!!! I am happy that I have a husband who can afford for me to spend this on my classroom, and asking for a break from a big retailer is NOT out of the question! Don't tell me that staples has a NARROW MARGIN on profit making...WHATEVER!!! Their narrow margin may be on school supplies, but they make it up on their big ticket items!!! Thank you for getting this ball rolling, and sorry that you had to be attacked by this anonymous poster. Teachers everywhere applaud you!!!

Miss T said...

Beautifully said! I don't think anonymous understands what teachers are dealing with in today's economy at all and that many kids are on free and reduced lunches and not all can afford supplies.

kymmie said...

I admire your grace. I loathe when people try to take the dignity out of teaching. Most do not realize Kindergarten is no longer playdough and building blocks.

I wish others and retailers would realize these sales are not for personal gain - there is a tiny, needy child at the end of this. How dare this Anonymous think that letting a few children just do without until their families come through with supplies could ever be an acceptable action.

Abby said...

Fabulously written. :)

Abby @ Third Grade Bookworm

Lacie Brown said...

Amen girl!! :)

Heather at Teach It Today! said...

Sadly, people continue to avoid dealing with the bigger issue. Our population would rather sink money into many other things, but not education. Anonymous should have spent time writing to a politician about lack of funding for schools vs. a teacher trying to pay for supplies out of her own pocket. Inappropriate to say the least...


Andi said...

Thank you so much for your letter to Staples and for this post.
"They" just don't get it. It's so frustrating.
You answered them perfectly!

Jessica Lowe said...

Well done! You handled this situation much better than I would have. I teach in a small community (all other "towns" are over an hour away). Every school in our district is "low-income" according to the DOE website and at least 2 are Title I. Most of our students are free or reduced lunch and people who stand back and think we are asking for handouts when we are supplying for other peoples' children are sadly mistaken. I would truly love to know this "anonymous" person's background and upbringing because it must have been extremely priveleged in order to not understand that school supplies are not the first priority on some of these parents' agendas. Some of my students are wearing shoes 3 sizes to small or going to bed without meals at night! I'm blown away by someone's lack of compassion and complete ignorance when it comes to this subject. Again, your response is impressive and I couldn't have done it as gracefully. Kudos to you!!! :)

Nanas House said...

Thank you for that awesome response. I do not know what it is like to teach a class full of children such as you do, but I do teach my grandchildren homeschool, and know for a fact the crafts/materials/supplies are costly......and that is just for two children. Kuddos to you for careing for our children enough to ensure they have what they need to learn.

Nicole said...

You GO GIRL!! You did a wonderfully classy job responding to this comment. They obviously do not know what it takes teach!
Rowdy in Room 300

A MilShelb Mom said...

Once again, someone who has no idea what it is like to teach in a public school. Too bad there are so many ignorant people in the world. I hate that "anonymous" said that to you. They clearly have no idea what the real world is like in terms of public education. What a shame... of course, I suppose that this sort of ignorance is one of many reasons why the schools are in the situations they are in.

luckeyfrog said...

I think this gets to the heart of why people are wrong when they think education should be run like business.

In a business, you give people responsibilities and hold them accountable. But you can't expect a 5 year old to be punished when their parents don't follow through on something- or CAN'T follow through on something!

And good luck getting ahold of grandparents, aunts, uncles... in many low income schools, getting in touch with parents or ANYONE is difficult! I mean, I'm sure you've had many times where you call to find a number's been disconnected- I have! And letting parents know about back-to-school sales would be great, if teachers had any idea who their students would be. (55% transiency rates, like in my old school, meant that class lists weren't decided until a week before school started- and then, students would randomly show up in the first few days and weeks, even still.)

Bottom line- waiting for someone else to get supplies isn't actually going to solve the problem. And while a high school kid could MAYBE be held accountable for getting the supplies, a 5 year old can't possibly be expected to have the resources to make it happen if they don't have support. And, quite frankly, if a parent is concerned about putting food on the table, an F- or all F's- isn't going to suddenly motivate them to go buy a notebook. Every day you waste waiting on supplies is another day that student is failing to learn- and particularly in a low-income school, you can't afford that.

The true problem is- kids don't have the supplies they need to truly learn. As a teacher, you are providing what they need to learn, because you know you can't depend on someone else to do it.

Staples DOESN'T owe us anything- and that's very true. But Staples, and any other company, deserve to hear from their customers. When Staples specifically has a Teacher Rewards program, it shows that they know what a large market teachers can be for them- and therefore, they should value what teachers have to say. They certainly don't have to change their policy based on what you said, but you still have a right to put it out there, and if they are a smart company, they'll be reading your letter and considering it.

Because currently, I hardly know any teachers who don't consider Staples part of their back-to-school routine... but with the change in their policy, they may lose out to the competition.

I don't expect Staples not to function as a business, or to keep their policies the same if they are losing money. That wouldn't make sense. But they do need to realize the potential consequences of their policy changes, and that includes driving some very valuable customers- who buy a LOT of office supplies- to other stores. It's not causing unfair PR buzz to remind them of that.

Roslilmom said...

My daughter linked to this post on Facebook. After reading it, I have to say that I totally agree with everything you have said. If the person with whom you are "conversing" had any idea how much money classroom teachers spend on their classrooms, maybe he/she would just shut up. It seems a shame that rather than being thankful that there are teachers out there who are willing to go above and beyond, this person prefers to blast someone for trying to get the help her students need. My only comment to him/her is SHAME ON YOU!

Melissa Termine said...

Lovely letter expressing what every teacher knows! The anger that comes through in the letter sent to you is curious. Who buys things for their classroom? Who makes sure that everything is done so the room runs smoothly with up to 25 kinders? Who knows that there are at least 10 families that struggle to make sure their kids have what they need for school, and this little bit of help is a God send for them? Bravo to you on how you have handled this nasty letter!

I haven't paid attention to the change in Staples policy this year but it saddens me. I counted on those sales to stock my classroom while continuing to give Staples my business for the rest of the year. Now I will be rethinking my policy along with my own letter to Staples.

Heather Lamia said...

You are AMAZING!! I could not have written that so nicely!! I don't know why I am so surprised there are such cowardly, rude, and ignorant people out there!! Great letter to STAPLES! Every little bit helps!

Anonymous said...

Amen! People have no clue what we as teachers, especially those in the early childhood field do. Way to go for responding so well. The public at large needs to be more aware of the extra mile teachers go to to help their children succeed. You are a wonderful, compassionate teacher who should be commended for your efforts, not ridiculed.

MaryBeth Ostrom said...

Amen! People have no clue what we as teachers, especially those in the early childhood field do. Way to go for responding so well. The public at large needs to be more aware of the extra mile teachers go to to help their children succeed. You are a wonderful, compassionate teacher who should be commended for your efforts, not ridiculed.

Melissa said...

Very well said! Way to handle this comment with facts and dignity. Thanks for expressing your concerns with Staples, you have every right to do so! Again, I just love this post and commend you for your efforts!

kathy said...

Wow! Isa all I cansay in regard to the person who wrote to defend Staples. Thank you for your kindness and profesionalism while you corresponded with him/ her. I really cannot believe that people do not understand what we as teachers have to do for our students with limited funds. Thank you!

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