Since the article remains, but not everyone's perspective was allowed (some comments were deleted) I wanted to post my response to the topic somewhere that I can control (but if you're a regular follower looking for my weekly teaching tip, scroll all the way to the bottom for a little post script).
Mr. Drake, I appreciate your wish for teachers, that we should not have to spend our own money on things for our classrooms. Of course it would be great to be reimbursed for everything I buy to supplement curriculum, as well as those things we buy to meet my students' basic needs when I notice specific areas are not being met.
Of course, if this were to happen, it would affect taxpayers. You yourself remind us that the taxpayers are the ones who pay us to work during specific hours of the day. Of course, they don't pay us to work on weekends or summertime, and for most, not after 4pm on weekdays. Yet every teacher I know gives more of their time beyond their contractual hours for free to plan lessons, mark papers, and so on. And taxpayers certainly do not give teachers carte blanche to spend money where they see fit. So although that's a nice dream for us educators to have, it doesn't seem feasible. And until that day that schools are given unlimited tax dollars, situations arise, often on a weekly basis, where we see something is lacking, and we have to step up and fill that need.
Fortunately, when it comes to meeting the ever changing needs of the children in our care, the beauty of the internet and the free marketplace is that we are never alone. We can find bargains at the grocery store to stock up on snacks for our students. We can peruse Pinterest for 17 do it yourself fidget objects for under $10 to help kids with sensory needs who break the 3 we're issued at the start of the year by the second day of school. And yes, on TPT we can purchase engaging Fraction of a Set task cards when the lesson from our textbook is so dull that half our class is asking to go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, or see the nurse instead.
The fact is, not only do we need to be flexible when it comes to caring for children, our curriculum is changing so fast (not just every year anymore; in my own school our writing curriculum changed 3 times during this school year) that we NEED to supplement resources beyond what the schools have bought for us. We're going to get it from somewhere. Some of it is free, (both on Teachers Pay Teachers and other venues) and some is not. In a free, capitalist society, we all get to/have to make choices when it comes to what we're willing to spend. Teachers are consumers too. Why wouldn't we be?
So if teachers have to be consumers like the rest of society, why can't we pay for materials created by experts? And by experts, I mean other teachers. This too is the way of the world. In the last decade, reality TV has made "regular people" into stars. People don't just want to see professional actors in a role; they want to see regular people and real reactions. People aren't just getting their news from professional broadcasters. They read blogs and Twitter to get news faster, from people who are there, who are local, who have perspective. People magazine named "You" as "Person of the Year" because of the number of self-publishers who are garnering the attention of the masses who want hear "the common man's" view. So why wouldn't teachers turn to other teachers who are coming up with creative solutions to challenges in their classrooms?
In this day in age, online publishing is easy for everyone (as you, Mr. Drake, a fellow blogger, can attest). Teacher Pay Teachers is not unique in that regard. It's a shame that this is the site that comes under fire by those who don't understand the real role of a teacher. We are paid by the tax payers to teach children. We are not hired to publish games, advertise and promote products, or implement graphic design for cover art, and those skills are valuable, not to be given freely. Our resources that are created on our own time, with our own materials do not belong to the public, any more than the dinner I make for my family belongs to the public. What I buy and make on my own time is my business.
Just because "most teachers signed up for the job knowing...[they] aren't paid what they're worth...[and] can't really raise a family on the salary they're given" does not make teacher-entrepreneurs criminals who are stealing from the tax payers. Instead of condemning a site like Teachers Pay Teachers with insinuations that teachers are doing something wrong by earning money by publishing on there, try looking at what the site is actually doing from a different perspective. What the site actually is, is a place which promotes collaboration among teachers, current materials during a period of rapid educational shifts, and yes, extra income for teachers whose hobby is related to their field. Maybe, just maybe, teachers who love educating enough to devote their free time to it should be applauded.
P.S., To my regular readers who look forward to weekly ideas for classroom use, a bunch of us on Teachers Pay Teachers have donated a product or two to a GIANT compilation for charity. All of the money earned from this product will be going to The One Fund, the organization endorsed by Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Tom Menino, to help the victims and families of the Marathon Bombing last week.
As a Massachusetts resident I was happy to help with this effort. I've donated my Substitute Teacher packet and my Fraction of a Set, Level 1 activity cards. The grades 3-6 Bundle contains 37 Products (valued at over $180) for $20. You can make your donation here at Michaela Almeida's site, The Center Based Classroom, and receive this bundle as a thank you.
Money bag and piggy bank graphics from OpenClipart.org.