The school year is well underway, and most of you know how savage the budget cuts have been. Excellent teachers who care about their students –yes, they exist! –are struggling along without proper books, supplies, and equipment. Classroom libraries lack books, science labs lack materials, art programs lack the most basic supplies– like paint!

In wealthy suburbs, affluent parents help fill the gap, but schools in low-income neighborhoods can’t raise extra funds that way. Result: We expect students to achieve more than ever – and that’s a good thing – but we don’t provide the tools they need and too often can’t afford to purchase for themselves: review texts for AP classes, graphic calculators, class sets of novels, even basic items like notebooks.

You can help! On my Giving Page at you can chip in to help buy a cello for an elementary-school music class in Mississippi, a class set of Ralph Ellison’s "Invisible Man" for an AP English class in Washington DC, review books for an AP psychology class in New York City, art supplies for "at-risk" middle-schoolers in North Carolina –and much more.

We hear a lot about ineffective, ill-prepared teachers, but the ones who put themselves out on are the ones who desperately want their students to succeed and who, through no fault of their own, need our help to get the tools to do their job.

Can you help? You can give any amount — even $5! Small donations add up. No funds to spare right now? Send the link to your lucky friends, post it on your blog or Facebook page.

Every child should have an opportunity to play a musical instrument, read great books, take challenging courses, and learn in a safe, well-equipped classroom. You can help make it happen!

BONUS: send me your receipt for $50 or more for a project on my Giving Page and I will send you a signed copy of The Mind-Body Problem, my new book of poems.

UPDATE: Thank you, Kelli from Santa Clarita, who is helping to purchase copies of "Guns, Germs and Steel" for a Global History honors class in a NYC school where 90% of the students qualify for free lunch. And thank you, Laura from Ithaca, who donated to fund review texts for an AP calculus class in a NYC high-poverty school AND also to buy paint for an art class in a high-poverty North Carolina middle school that focuses on "at risk" kids.

Note to commenters: It’s great that you know all about what’s wrong with the public schools (sarcastic eye roll), including teachers’ poor "preperation" (like in spelling?), but what about chipping in to help kids who are in school right now and who have no say in school budgets or education policy or the priorities of teachers’ unions?

You can light a candle AND curse the darkness. How about it?