MADELEINE BRAND, host:
From NPR News, it's Day to Day. Pop quiz time. You are a public school teacher. You have, let's say, $300 to spend on printing tests. You need $500. What do you do? Well, joining us now is Tom Farber. He is a math teacher at Rancho Bernardo High School near San Diego, and he faced this conundrum. Welcome to the program.
Mr. TOM FARBER (Math Teacher, Rancho Bernardo High School): Thank you very much, Madeleine.
BRAND: Well, what did you do?
Mr. FARBER: I decided to take matters in my own hands and decided to raise the funds that I need to get the materials that the kids need. The budget wasn't going to change. The only thing is, it was going to get worse. I had decided that I should advertise on my test, and I said, well, if you would like to put a quote or an ad at the bottom of my test, then it'd be kind of a mutual - they help the kids, and then I help them get a little bit of PR out of it.
BRAND: And so the parents, they responded well?
Mr. FARBER: Absolutely. Back to school night, I had one parent give me a $100 check, and she said, I hope this gets you started, and I actually had a lot of good comments, saying that's very creative and thinking outside the box.
And I've actually gotten emails from parents and one from my school district saying, you know, I am glad somebody is finally speaking up and saying that parents are having a tough time footing the bill for things that should have been paid for through their tax dollars and paid through the school system.
BRAND: And what did the kids says? I mean, aren't they kind of bombarded by advertising all day long when they are not in school?
Mr. FARBER: They really like the quotes, and they actually look forward to them. I've had students say, hey, what's going to be the next quote, and I tell them, you have to wait.
BRAND: Like what? What are some of the quotes?
Mr. FARBER: One is from Vaclav Havel. He's a ex-Czech president. And basically, it says for kids to surround themselves by people who seek the truth and then run from the people who have claimed they have found it. That's one of the quotes.
I talk to the parents, and I said, you know, everything has got to be non-offensive. It has to be a, you know, definitely acceptable for high school students. It can't be anything that's controversial.
BRAND: So how much money have you raised?
Mr. FARBER: You know, right now, I've raised $350, but I've been receiving numerous offers in the past week.
BRAND: Have you encountered any resistance at all, either from your bosses there at the school or from the community in general, parents, students?
Mr. FARBER: No. I've had complete support through the school, from my principal to the superintendent of the school district. I got a great letter from him just of support at these economic times, and the budget cuts that we're facing are draconian.
Five years ago or 10 years ago, I would never have thought I would have to do something like this. It wouldn't even been registered. But now, I think my idea or ideas that are similar to mine, I think they're going to be a little bit more acceptable or at least thrown out there.
The community is so used to spending money and putting money into not just schools, but in a lot of infrastructure that I think there is going to have to be more of a partnership between businesses and public facilities, whether it's a library, whether it's a school to, you know, to fix some of the problems we have.
BRAND: Well, thank you very much.
Mr. FARBER: Well, you're welcome.
BRAND: Tom Farber teaches calculus at Rancho Bernardo High School. That's near San Diego, California.
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BRAND: Oh, I bet you have some opinions already. You can share them at our blog, npr.org/daydreaming.
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