Charles Best, DonorsChoose.org CEO, Explains How To Feel Good About Paying for Gasoline

Categories: School Daze
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The way gas prices have yo-yo'd recently, it's time to fill up as they're down--as I type this, anyway, before the Hurricane Sandy excuse hits the West Coast, as to the last excuse when California's prices were higher than everyone else's because, uh, California refineries are so damn close to us. WTF? Indeed.

Anyway, some local school principals will smile if you fill up at Texaco or Chevron stations.

See also:
Baby, You Can Still Drive My Electric Car: As gas prices soar and Americans lose their taste for foreign oil, OC's biggest EV booster sounds like a prophet
Five Gas Stations In Orange County That You Don't Want to Fill Up On
Does Santa Ana Unified School District Have the Money to Save the Hundreds of Jobs It Cut?

No, state education cuts have not caused these educators to moonlight pumping gas. Actually, they have, along with the assaults on their pensions, but that's another story. This story is about a unique program that has a portion of money you spend for gasoline going directly to schools in Fullerton and Huntington Beach.

Let's let Charles Best, CEO of DonorsChoose.org, 'splain:

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Charles Best
Twelve years ago, I began teaching history at Wings Academy, a public high school in the Bronx. My new students and colleagues were awesome, but I could see that the school where I was teaching did not have the same resources as the schools I'd attended.

At my old high school, we went on field trips; we had graphing calculators and were given the supplies to do just about any art project. We did not want for anything.

Not so for my students in the Bronx. As their teacher, I saw first-hand that all schools are not created equal.

My colleagues and I spent a lot of our own money on copy paper and pencils, but we often couldn't afford the resources that would get our students excited about learning. We'd talk about books our students should read, a field trip we wanted to take, or a microscope that would bring science to life.

I figured there were people out there who want to help our students, if they could see where their money was going. So, using a pencil and paper, I drew a website where teachers could post classroom project requests and donors could choose a project they wanted to support.

Twelve years later, our website has channeled educational materials to 7 million students, the majority from low-income communities and many of whom are learning English as a second language. Our site has connected more than 800,000 donors and will help bring more than $40 million in resources to classrooms this school year. This support is helping to offset the more than $1.3 billion teachers spend on their classrooms nationwide.

We're proud of the calculators, microscopes and books that we've delivered to 253,000 teachers across the United States. But there's still a lot of work to be done, especially in the area of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education.

While roughly 75 percent of our nation's high school students are not proficient in mathematics when they complete 12th grade, the U.S. Dept. of Labor projects that 15 of the 20 fastest growing occupations in 2014 will require math or science to successfully compete for those jobs. To keep large industries competitive here in Orange County, we need to ensure that our students have the skills to be successful in the occupations of the future. School budgets are tight. Many teachers, without dipping into their own wallet, do not have access to materials that are critical to improving interest in STEM education and that bring difficult concepts to life.

It's going to take a lot to strengthen teaching models in STEM education and Chevron has been a champion for STEM education and teachers for quite some time. Since 2009, they have supported more than 500,000 students with DonorsChoose.org. This year Chevron is bringing their Fuel Your School program, an innovative funding mechanism, to Orange County.

For every purchase of eight or more gallons of fuel at a local Chevron or Texaco station, Chevron will contribute $1, up to a total contribution of $1 million, to fund eligible public school classroom projects posted by Orange County teachers. Thanks to community members in Orange County, this goal has already been achieved.

Through Chevron's Fuel Your School program, Ms. Cockerill of Acacia Elementary in Los Angeles
Fullerton received a rubber band cannon, which allowed her to teach distance, velocity, angle and force to her 5th and 6th graders. In addition to Ms. Cockerill's project, Chevron's Fuel Your School program has already funded 504 other classroom projects in Orange County that will impact 61,280 students.

Visit www.FuelYourSchool.com to see the materials teachers are requesting in your area and which schools will be impacted by the funds generated through the program, and encourage teachers in your school district to post their classroom projects today. Right now, we have the opportunity to help more students get the materials they need for a great education and to prepare them for the STEM careers of the future.

It's nice to see some of the record profits oil companies are reaping in a down economy go to classrooms, no? Now if they'd just hire someone for something other than oil spill cleanup we could use our Texaco and Chevron cards with even more pride.

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