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[Susan notes: The author makes a good point: How long can essential school programs exist on private donations?]

Submitted to but not published

To the editor

When I read the article on the Assisi foundation providing books ('Hero' battles county schools' budget villain, 8/19/04) I didn't know whether to cheer or cry. You see, for the last several years, I've been writing grants avidly to bring materials and programs into my music classroom in the Memphis City system. And while this is great for the students, I notice that every year the number of things which city and county teachers and parents have to fund on their own increases. We've accepted things like band instruments as not being supported by the schools, and VH1, Play it Again, Memphis, and Little Kids Rock! have stepped up to the plate and helped fill that need if a school has a teacher willing to teach the class without extra compensation. PIPE, The Memphis Rotary Foundation, and the Junior League of Memphis provide teachers with support for wonderful, creative projects each year, if the teacher has the motivation to apply for the grants and do the work. Other grants pay for technology, home involvement programs, after school programs, and many other things which improve students learning.

But, all these grants have one thing in common. The goal wasn't to replace core instruction or provide materials the school district usually provided, but to add more.

Now, in the county schools, it seems that grants are needed for materials as basic as alphabet books for kindergarteners. I guess books are now considered a "frill". Where will it stop? How many heroes can we expect to step up to the plate to fund our schools?

And, more to the point, what will happen when the well runs dry?

Donna Metler, Tennessee teacher

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