Ballard Science Class Looking for Help

Eric Muh's science class at Ballard High has signed up at Donors Choose for some financial help.

We are a large urban comprehensive high school. Teachers have a variety of students from English language learners to special education students with a variety of individual needs to Advanced Placement students. We'd use the laminator for all these classes.
You may recall that Donors Choose is a great organization that allows teachers to ask for help - big and small - for their classes.

If there are other SPS teachers/schools asking for help, please let us know and we'll add them.


Anonymous said…
I'm all for asking for help. And yeah, I'm sure we need a laminator. But characterizing BHS as a school with "moderate poverty". Really? That's kinda stretching it, don't you think?

Go Beavers
Christina said…
This Jane Addams K-8 Donors Choose project for a First Grade class is just ten days away from expiry, and needs just $139 more:
Dolls for Empathy Building and Character Education

If you give to my project you will add a lot to my instructional toolbox for social skills lessons, games, group activities and role-plays. Kimochi feelings icons are small plush beanbags that have the word for an emotion on one side and an illustration of the corresponding facial expression on the back. Plan Toy dolls are small, wooden, poseable, multi-ethnic dolls for students to use as they learn and practice valuable strategies for solving common friendship and social problems.
Anonymous said…
Donors Choose explains the "moderate poverty" designation:
"Schools with 10%-39% of students receiving free/reduced lunch are denoted as 'moderate poverty' while schools with more than 40% of students receiving free/reduced lunch are denoted as 'high poverty'."

Anonymous said…
From the Donors Choose web-stir:

Schools with 10%-39% of students receiving free/reduced lunch are denoted as "moderate poverty" while schools with more than 40% of students receiving free/reduced lunch are denoted as "high poverty".

N by NW
Thank you for clarifying what Donors Choose has for those categories. It's always good to find out those things before being critical of efforts to help students.
Jamie said…
Looks like the laminator request was in 2011. Now they want to build a robot to explore puget sound. Sounds pretty cool.
Unknown said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said…
There are 76 current requests from Seattle Schools. Please see The average request is about $710, and the total is close to $55,000.
Eric M said…
Thanks, Melissa. To be clear, there was a offer made to donate 50 OpenROV submersibles (look it up, pretty cool, and a very significant donation) to public school teachers across the country. I jumped on it - building and experimenting with this kind of stuff along with students is one of the best parts in my teaching job. I took an Oceanography workshop a couple of years ago where we drove an ROV, and have done a lot of robotics with students over the years, and I thought we could get some teachable moments out of this.

So I emailed back with a YES! The entire donation process went through which now (rather embarassingly) requires one's Facebook info, and posts stuff from the application. But as far as I understand, this particular project is already completely paid for, making the Facebook postings reeeally awkward.

As far as poverty and asking for money: That's complicated.
a) I would rather none of this got posted on Facebook. I know Facebook is a place where people post their great stuff so their friends can feel bad :) but, not what I wanted, at all.
b) Are kids at Ballard in poverty? Some, yes. Should they or their teachers be made to feel bad because their average level of poverty is not as dire as somewhere else? I guess that's an individual decision. I know that I don't get one penny from SPS or the state to run my classes. They pay for the roof and the heat and the computers and the furniture, but every piece of string, every inch of tape, that comes from parents of my students. Or me. I end up in the hole at least $1000 every year. I'm not starving, but it's not exactly a great situation, either.
c) The previous project I was involved with was a laminator. For the entire school. Our old laminator broke, and there was no money to fix it or purchase another. We could have eventually raised the money, but Starbucks was giving away $10 donorschoose cards at the time (donorschoose was new). So I organized a coalition of the willing among staff & community, and $10 at a time, we built up enough of an account to buy a new laminator. It took, I'd guess, about 50 hours of my time. Probably would have been quicker to get a part time job at 7-11. :)
Anonymous said…
Mr. Muhs has been a fabulous teacher to two of my kids - one who is a senior this year and he has been very helpful in several ways to get her into her first-choice reach school.
Not to mention the countless hours on astronomy field trips, UW Observatory and star-gazing juants to Sunset Hill Park.
Thank you Mr. Muhs

randi niemer
Christina said…
Update: The Jane Addams K-8 empathy dolls Donors Choose project I posted earlier has complete funding as of this morning. Good news for the requesting teacher, Ms. Dorje.

Anonymous said…
Here's some Thanksgiving fun. My family will donate $25 for each donation of any amount of $10 or more made by an individual donor to for any Seattle Public School project. Donors must cross post that they did this. (You can post anomalously). You can use Mary Griffin's link to find the Seattle Schools. We'll make one donation per donor and no more than 5 donations per school. If the school is identified by Donors Choose as high poverty we will make a $50 donation. This offer will expire by Wednesday, November 27. Donations by us will be signed Turkey Tom.

Turkey Tom
Anonymous said…
A little info on Donors Choose

and for the data crunchers:


Anonymous said…

I agree that teachers should not have to fundraise to get classroom supplies. But that is the way it is right now. I see Donors Choose as a bandaid. As Eric Muhs said, either he pays for supplies or his parents do. And in some schools, PTA's do. I think this is a common situation.

As far as Donors Choose being funded or started by someone from Teachers United--I don't really care. I don't care if Bill and Melinda Gates is in it, either. It's clearly not an ed-reformy charity.

As far as donating to the school or to the teacher, good luck getting a tax deductible receipt. Good luck for the teacher getting anything from a donation made this year to the school that ends up in his or her classroom this year. If an item is something that you can order online and get to the teacher and you don't need a reciept, that's probably a good way to go. But most of these items are in the range of $500 to $1500 and require coordination of several donors. I think most people don't like the idea of writing out personal checks to teachers. Aside from PTA's, there isn't a good way to do this.

As far as fees goes, that is the price you pay for vetting of projects, coordination, postage, and infrastructure. Their administrative charges aren't any higher than any other charity. It has the highest rating possible from Charity Navigator who vets charities.

school mom
HIMS teacher said…
At Hamilton, the self contained autism classroom is asking for Legos to help the students practice their fine motor, social and direction following skills. It is posted here:

HIMS teacher
HIMS teacher said…
At Hamilton, the self contained autism classroom is asking for Legos to help the students practice their fine motor, social and direction following skills. It is posted here:

Anonymous said…
School mom, do give. But I also think with all this crowd sourcing and crowd funding along with social entrepreneurship rage going on, is this the new norm? Google and there are now MBA for this stuff.

It's great a savvy teacher can get on these sites and ask and it makes me feel good because I'm giving directly and I can see exactly where it's going. Here's my concern, what about the teachers or schools who don't post? Are they losers? Are their kids? How many books can teachers buy to replace textbooks in a poor county in Mississippi? Why should they have to go on to a site to market (yes, there's a marketing strategy to all of this ) and beg for such basics? Why should Mr. M. spend 50 hours for a laminator?

I worry it pushes the fix further down the road. My feel-good fix lasts a short while until I click on the site again and see the ever expanding requests.

And yes, the site has the highest rating. Good for them. So does TFA.

It'll be interesting to see if crowdsourcing can translate to crowdfunding all our schools per McCleary. Any venture entrepreneur takers?

Unknown said…
I think that the district and the taxpayers should figure out a way to supply teachers with the supplies they need. I also think teachers should get cost of living increases. I can't fix the problems in Mississippi. Heck, I can't even fix the problems in Seattle. But until there is adequate funding for teachers have supplies that they need, I don't have a problem donating any way that gets that done. I just made a donation to a project at Aki Kurose through Donors Choose.
Anonymous said…
Yes Mary, but consider this, to do that you need revenues. It can come from taxes, private donations, or fees. If our state can give nearly $ 9 billion in tax breaks to Boeing, we get to keep a few thousand jobs, provided the workers give up a few things. So even the tax offset may not be good enough. How can we offset that revenues loss so we can still maintain (not even building /replacing) hwys, schools, and basic infrastructure? We really can't. So now we have tolls, patchwork levies, and donors choose. I don't mean to pick on Boeing; it can be the SLU developers or new arena king asking for tax concessions and utilities and road improvement to make their ventures successful.

It's our money and giveaways that make these companies successful. Are we, the people, getting a good return on those "investments"? I just wonder where we, the people, are heading with this. The ever widening economic gap, the decline of our middle class, the bitter partisanship in our government and among ourselves are symptoms of what we have given up. And it's not money.

Good news on the projects fully funded.

Thanks to the Turkey Tom family for their generous offer.
RosieReader said…
As has been discussed here regularly, SPS schools vary greatly in their ability to raise funds from parents. According to the many families we know with kids at Ballard, the combined fundraising efforts of their PTA, sports and performing arts booster groups raise a pretty hefty amount of money.

I wonder if there could be a "gentleperson's agreement" that educators from these sorts of schools would use their internal resources first, and leave Donors Choose for educators at schools with more limited assets at their disposal. Along with an effort to reach out to educators at the less affluent schools to make sure they know about the site.

I know, I know, it's a great project and deserves funding. But pulling back from this one particular project, I was just trying to think of ways to level the playing field a little bit overall.
Anonymous said…
But not funding this project won't give more money to anybody else. Fundraising dollars are not fungible like that. People only fund what they are excited about, and they either are or aren't. There are no sps schools with so much money and luxury that they should have less-only schools that should have much more. But the way to get it for them is not to ask teachers who are showing great initiative to help their students to just stop. We should applaud teachers for this kind of effort, not nit-pick.

AnonMom said…
"Donors Choose explains the "moderate poverty" designation..." Perhaps the moderate poverty tags should reference the teachers, not the students. It does seem like our teachers are paying for an undue burden when they simply want some school supplies.

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