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[Susan notes: I'm late in publishing this letter, having just stumbled onto it. But I love Beverly Cooper-Wiele's point that teachers are portrayed favorably only when they are self-sacrificing.]

Published in Boston Globe

To the editor

RE PETER Schworm's Sept. 5 article on teachers who spend their own money for school supplies (“Budgets cut, teachers dig deeper for supplies," Page A1):

First, I am happy to see the Globe portray teachers in a positive light.

Second, I wouldn't characterize out-of-pocket expenditures as an "occupational hazard," but as an occupational necessity. Teachers in the primary grades are evaluated not only on the learning atmospheres of their classrooms, but on their room's visual appeal, a responsibility that does not apply to the same degree to middle- and high-school teachers. Still, we spend willingly, and with little hope of reimbursement, to make our rooms welcoming and to ensure that our learners have the materials they need.

Third, do readers perceive the article's subtle threat? If we teachers do not spend our own money on classroom supplies, then school districts won't have budgets sufficient to hire more teachers.

We are portrayed favorably only when we are self-sacrificing. Perhaps those foundations that spend millions on all manner of educational experiments could simply supply small grants to school districts or even directly to teachers.

Finally, forget those tennis balls to quiet the feet of chairs. Just go to the nearest hardware store and buy felt pads. They are equally effective and much cheaper.

The writer is a first-grade teacher in the Boston Public Schools.

Beverly Cooper-Wiele

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