When I first started DonorsChoose.org, I was working in for another district. I acquired $2000 in materials, mostly from the DonorsChoose.org community and my friends/family.
From the immediate community: $5.00.
One could argue the lack of promotion on my part. Maybe this is where some of the hate originates, I'm a teacher, not a marketer.. The lack of local support wouldn't have bothered me so much if the DonorsChoose.org policy gave the materials (with the premise they were always used within the confines of a public school classroom), to the teachers, and not the school district. I understand why they don't, though. I'd hate to see the tax ramifications of what I've received, and understand some donors are there to support the district, not the teacher.
I realized I would be moving to another district $1700 into a $5000 DonorsChoose project. Knowing the ownership policy at this point, I canceled the project. After canceling, my grandma was left in confusion. My parents had donated a substantial amount and simply wanted a refund. My parents were able to get a cash refund but not without some hassle. I think my grandma is still confused over the whole exchange It left a temporary sour taste in everyone's mouth and I felt responsible. I didn't realize the ripple effects of making a request would become dinnertime conversation at holiday events the next year. I mean after all, who wants to confuse Grandma?
In another frustrating experience, I was told the school board would match what I brought to the table.
I received support for my program, but not in the way I was told. I once again was looking at people who supported me with shrugged shoulders. That match may have come, but the lack of urgency was pathetic and demotivating.
None of this is really the fault of DonorsChoose.org, I realize. I suppose they could change their refund policy and their material ownership policy, but that may come at costs I don't want to see the system take on. I'll trust their judgment there.
No, the hate (which now seems an unfair word in this context) is more about the need for such a system. I hold onto my idealism tightly. I can't help but imagine the parallel universe where I would be scolded for skipping a child's basketball game, as I've done in the past, to complete a grant application. I would be told:
"Stay in your lane."
"Provide detailed feedback on your assessments."
"Design highly accurate assessments and allow for differentiation."
"Collaborate with your colleagues."
"Study the latest educational research."
"Redesign your curriculum with the latest research."
"Focus on being the best teacher you can be, build solid relationships with your students. We'll provide the rest."
Then I think, "Thank God no one else is picking out my equipment for me." or, "Heck, I love having the ability to pick projects to donate money to and know exactly where it goes!" This is a very empowering ability to someone outside of the public education system.
I'm motivated by the fact that strangers are supporting me in this job which can feel strangely lonely sometimes. I'm motivated by the fact DC focuses on public schools and is moving towards providing public school funding transparency. I'm motivated by the fact that they are actually addressing education reform by going straight to the teachers, and the love part kicks back in.
So, like most things there is a give and take to this very powerful and inventive tool. We love the miracle of flight, but how often do we walk off of a plane complaining?
I forget the nags, gripes, and distractions that will hold me back if I dwell on them, and address the ones I can fix... oftentimes, by submitting a project on DonorsChoose.org.