No longer bookless

I donated to “Bookless in Miami,” a second-grade teacher, through Donors Choose. She’d written:

When I first walked into my new classroom, I thought there must have been a mistake. “Where are all the books?” I asked the Assistant Principal. She pointed to a table of scattered books. I was in shock to find that there was no “classroom library” where students could find rich literature, and books from a variety of genres they could read from.

 . . . My students need an abundance of interesting books that can be matched to their independent reading level in order for them to be kept motivated and entertained during their reading time.

Her students have the books. She sent photos.

About Joanne


  1. I don’t get DonorsChoose. When I followed the link, I thought, “cool, I haven’t donated to anything yet this month, I’ll fund a project here.” Then, I started looking through the projects and I was shocked. I saw project after project like this one:

    This teacher needs pencil sharpeners. Well, that seems pretty straightforward, you can get a nice Bostitch metal pencil sharpener (with anti-microbial surface specially designed for classrooms) at Amazon for $20:

    But, when I look at the price tag on DonorsChoose, the project needs $318 to buy TWO pencil sharpeners!! That’s insane! Even if the “fulfillment” fee is 25%, that’s still more than $100 per sharpener!

    Every project I looked at was like this, insanely overpriced (check out the teacher asking for more than $400 for “pencils, scissors and glue sticks” – I doubt she could lift $400 worth of pencils). I would love to donate to this type of cause, but I’m not going to just throw my money away.

    Anyone know what is going on with this?

  2. deirdremundy says:

    Hmmm…. based on Walmart Back-To-School prices, 400 would by you something like….3200 glue sticks?

    I wonder if the teachers are forced to order through some district-clearinghouse instead of just seeking the best bargains?

  3. Lightly Seasoned says:

    I don’t know how the organization works, but I will say that I easily go through 500 pencils in a year (with over 100 students, that’s only an average of 5 per kid — some never borrow, but the ADHD types borrow nearly every day); if you’re hoarding supplies (all good teachers do) for the future, that doesn’t sound outlandish to me. $400 worth of that stuff might last you two years.

  4. Hello Everyone,

    My name is César Bocanegra and I’m the Executive Vice-President of Operations at If I may, I would like to address the questions being posted on this blog. We work mostly with 32 vendors that are electronically connected to our e-procurement system. These vendors range from Best Buy, CDW, Office Depot, and Barnes & Noble, to Nasco, Quill, Lakeshore Learning, and AKJ Books.

    While we understand at times that cheaper prices may exist with other vendors, the scope of our operation is such that we have strict requirements that each vendor must meet. These requirements help us ensure that everything runs smoothly from start to finish and in our eyes, what we may lose with an occasional higher price we gain tenfold in increased efficiency. This in turn enables us to help thousands more students. Nevertheless, we use this type of feedback and provide it to our vendors on a regular basis to let them know that their prices are, in some instances, not competitive.

    Every project comes with a Project Cost Report for full transparency to its total cost. For the pencil sharpener project, the project cost report can be found here: (you can also click on the “we’ll purchase the materials” tab and click on the PDF file link).

    The Project Cost Report details a description of the materials, the name of the vendor, the unit price, and the quantity. To this sub-total, we add shipping charges (10%), sales taxes (if any), a 2.5% fee for payment processing, a flat $17 fee for the processing of “thank-you” packages, and finally our optional fulfillment fee (usually 15%).

    Please know that whenever savings are encountered during ordering (ex: if a product is on sale or shipping is free), the savings are put directly back into classroom projects. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

    Thank you,

    César Bocanegra
    Executive VP of Operations,
    347 W. 36th Street, Suite 503 | New York, NY 10018
    212.239.3615 x223 | [email protected]
    Teachers ask. You choose. Students learn.

  5. Classrooms are never equipped with libraries, its just one of the expenses teachers are expected to absorb.

    Luckily I had 2 children of my own who had a ton of books they weren’t reading anymore.

  6. Nicksmama says:

    I don’t have any children in the public school system since I homeschool. If I did I would donate needed items directly to the classroom. It just doesn’t make sense to include a middle-man and pay a 15% surcharge and other fees when I can go down to the local Walmart or Costco and then drop the supplies off at the nearby school.

    Most parents I know would gladly donate directly in lieu of participating in fundraisers. Unfortunately, schools tend to pump up the kids on participating in fundraisers by offering them goodies…well, that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms..

  7. B.G.Sanford says:

    When my children were in school, the teachers always kept a list posted for parents and students to read and know what donated items were needed. It worked extremely well according to their teachers. As a matter of fact they both were responsibile for starting that proceedure in my grandchildren’s classes.
    While I’m here, if I may, I’d like to take a moment and shamelessly promote my new book, “Beth:Love Along The Way…by B.G.Sanford,” and just released by Eloquent Books. It’s a beautiful romance, however tragic.A love affair of a lifetime presents itself to Beth during some of the darkest times of her life. She struggles with what to do, knowing fully, what would be morally right. Because of the very substance of this book, it can’t be considered “lightweight” by any stretch of the imagination. I hope you get the opportunity to read it, as it’s an entertaining story you won’t soon forget.
    All my best to you,

  8. Right. My district has a wish list on the web site so parents can donate to us directly. I always make sure my wishes are spiffy and up-to-date around graduation time. I often wish for pencils and facial tissue, but often I ask for “extra” instructional materials — DVD’s, some of the AP prep stuff from my favored publishers, etc. We also have a foundation that parents can donate to in a teacher’s honor. I’m usually good for a pretty decent haul every year, even though I don’t think I’ve ever applied for a grant — they prefer innovative technological stuff, of which I don’t tend to do a whole lot that I’m not already set up for. If they want to be personal, my kiddos know I am always thrilled with a B & N or Starbucks gift card — heaven knows they’ve seen me sitting in Starbucks grading their papers often enough.

  9. Liz in PA says:

    I’ll chime in with a different viewpoint: I like – a friend was part of a “grow a mustache” fundraiser through the site for a couple of New York teachers earlier this year and I was happy to participate. At least in my friend’s case, the projects he “adopted” were at schools that *didn’t* have any sizeable parent pool to depend on for supplies. At the same time, my friend had connections all over the country who wouldn’t have had any idea how to help schools in New York City, even if they had wanted to (and I’m guessing most of us who helped support schools in our community as well). was able to bring those two parties together, vet the requests, and make sure they were fulfilled. My friend (and his mustache!) raised over $8,000 for some great projects in very under-resourced schools. I wish pencil sharpeners weren’t so expensive, perhaps, but overall I think the concept is a great one.

  10. I received a DonorsChoose grant. I was starting a new science program, and we had NOTHING! Thanks to DC, I was able to get the activities off the ground. I ended up with a lot, so my experience was not what this post describes.

    I’m still using the science equipment – the donors’ actions will be positively impacting the classes at my school for years.