November 11, 2005 1 min read

“I don’t care if they have to sell a kidney, they need to pay this money back. We know they don’t have a heart or a brain, but a kidney might be usable.”

—Joan Bonner, a former Wilmer-Hutchins Independent School District board member, referring, in part, to the $270,000 in federal funds meant for poor and disabled students misspent by school officials. According to a state audit, the money instead paid for, among other things, bronze sculptures, pizza cutters, and a Queen Anne loveseat for a principal’s office. The audit also says administrators pulled in an extra $185,000 in state money by inflating the number of kids the district was actually educating.

“Hey, it’s cheaper than gas.”

—Art teacher Carl McKeeth, who decided to ride his horse to school after gas prices hit $3 a gallon. He figures he saves at least $40 a week riding from home to Arcadia High School in western Wisconsin.

“Calling itself an education association is like calling the United Auto Workers union a driving association.”

—Christian Science Monitor columnist Patrick Chisholm, writing about the National Education Association. If the labor organization were subject to truth-in-labeling laws, he argues, it would have to be called the National Teachers Association, as it was when it was founded in the 1850s.

“The school looks great. We just can’t get kids to it.”

—J. Ronald Hennings, superintendent of Tombstone Unified School District in Arizona, commenting on the newly built, $6.8 million Tombstone High School, which is sitting vacant because the district doesn’t have the money to pay for a bus-worthy road connecting it to a highway.

“Pajama bottoms would be an improvement for some of our kids.”

—Principal Ed Jenson, on the current fad of wearing bedtime apparel to school. His administration at Ogden High School in Utah considers the fashion less distracting than such dress-code gray areas as short skirts.

“People need to know how out of control zero tolerance is.”

—Anita Brinkman, the mother of 17-year-old Danielle Brinkman, an honor student with a perfect attendance record at Rowland High School in Los Angeles County, California. The senior was suspended for months because the pants she put on one morning to go to school still held the pocketknife she uses at her part-time supermarket job.

A version of this article appeared in the November 01, 2005 edition of Teacher as Overheard