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Glendale takes a bite out of teachers

The Glendale schools' ban on small kitchen appliances in classrooms would punish hardworking educators while yielding relatively small savings.

March 11, 2009

Sure, schools are experiencing financial desperation, but don't take it out on Mr. Coffee.

For a potential savings of $60,000 a year, a ban on small kitchen appliances in the classrooms of the Glendale Unified School District seems a petty way to reduce energy expenses. This is no time to take away teachers' small comforts -- a frozen lunch heated in a microwave or an extra cup of coffee to get through the afternoon.

It's pound-foolish too. Many teachers, determined to help their students achieve, no longer bother with schmoozing in the teachers' lounge. They arrive early to meet with working parents, spend recess counseling students, forgo lunch breaks to provide extra tutoring and stay late grading papers. Most are probably buying tissues and other supplies for the classroom that aren't covered by the district.

At best, the energy policy makes their efforts look unappreciated; at worst, it will backfire. Teachers might wonder why they drive themselves so hard for an employer that won't finance the utility bill to keep Lean Cuisine on ice.

By all means, lower the temperature on the school water heaters and turn off the computers at night, as the district is doing with its initiative on energy efficiency. Where practical, encourage teachers in adjacent classrooms to share appliances -- and provide them with the keys to one another's rooms so there isn't a barricade between them and their lunches. Give them incentives for doing so (a voluntary program reportedly didn't work), and use it as a lesson for students on smart ways to conserve energy. All this is good for the budget, good for the planet and a good example for kids.

Not so good is modeling penny-wise miser- liness toward teachers. Let them plug in again. A motivated teacher is worth more than all the classroom computers.

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