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Teachers - please allow kids to email instead of printing homework

Original post made by Midtown Resident, Midtown, on Aug 25, 2013

Besides saving lots of paper, this will also save a lot of money for the parents.

I'm really tired of paying outrageous prices for printer ink and enriching executives who I believe should be in Jail instead. Free market systems are supposed to have competition to keep prices reasonable. Instead these thugs first sell printers below cost which in itself is a very dubious action. On top of that they have made it very hard to use refilled cartridges since many printers complain and misbehave with refilled cartridges. Also cartridges that used to carry 15-20ml of ink now only carry 5ml or less of ink. To add insult to injury, the caridges are over packaged to make them look bigger and add more trash to the landfill. Its outrageous that this kind of behaviour is legal. Don't these people have a conscience?

The least we can do is reduce our usage and if teachers could allow emailed documents, ink and paper costs would not be wasted. emailed documents are also easy to store and organize. No reason to print homework.

Comments (24)

3 people like this
Posted by Ha!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2013 at 11:26 pm

[Portion removed.] Can you imagine all the excuses? "I emailed it but you didn't get it?", "My computer broke." And when would the homework be due? One minute before class? And in math, the students have to scan the homework and then email it to teachers? "Our scanner broke."

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Posted by Midtown Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2013 at 11:57 pm

I'm not sure what your point is..

The same computer is needed to email the homework as to print it and so the same excuses apply. No difference. Homework can be due whenever it is normally due. We need to move to the computer age. Physical copies are not needed, more expensive, harder to store and find and damaging to the environment

I'm not suggesting that hand-written math homework be scanned and emailed. Paper is fine for these. No printing is required. The kids have to use paper to do the homework anyway. They can just turn it in.

Homework that is done on a computer and can me emailed makes no sense to print.

3 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 26, 2013 at 6:28 am

From my experience, very little homework is printed at high school. What school are you talking about?

Students have to use, email and memory sticks. There are deadlines, often midnight. There are also printers in the library or the math center, etc. which can be used by the students also. Much of the homework is also done on websites. One teacher will not accept homework excuses that start "My printer __"

I suggest you talk with the teachers on back to school night.

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Posted by problem solved
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 26, 2013 at 8:10 am

[Post removed.]

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Posted by Midtown Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 26, 2013 at 8:22 am

Middle school requires a lot of printing.

Laser printers are definitely cheaper than inkjet but the initial cost is higher. But why print when you can email it?

2 people like this
Posted by Email?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2013 at 8:36 am


That's so last century. I think what you want is electronic homework submission. Dictating it be email is not necessarily efficient.

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Posted by Chris Kenrick, Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 26, 2013 at 8:47 am

Midtown Resident,

Here's a bit about the use of at Paly: Web Link

It's been widely used there for several years. I'm not sure about Gunn or the middle schools.

1 person likes this
Posted by Email?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2013 at 8:57 am

Btw, are you sure you picked the right forum to facilitate the change you seek?

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Posted by Erin
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 26, 2013 at 9:43 am

4th and 5th graders at Hays use Google Docs. My 3rd grader was allowed to email her spelling homework to her teacher last year.

Maybe you could suggest Google Docs to the middle school teachers who are assigning the printed homework. The teachers have access to plenty of tech training through the district if they aren't comfortable with the technology.

1 person likes this
Posted by Where the most paper is wasted
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 26, 2013 at 10:05 am

You should target businesses, not schools!

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Posted by Old School
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 26, 2013 at 10:22 am

How can English teachers put comments and corrections on papers if it's on the computer? We all learned from feedback as such. There is probably a software program where they can write on it, but that's not in use.

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Posted by C
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 26, 2013 at 11:29 am

Hi Old School -- a lot of people don't realize it, but there are comments features on both Microsoft Office and on Google Docs. There is also a "comments" feature which students can use/read on turnitin if they feel so inclined.

Regarding the printing issue in general, most teachers allow handwritten work. For math, science, and most history classes this is true. And the English department uses turnitin for major assignments, so really you only need to print the smaller 1-pagers and whatnot. The library also gives a number -- I forget how many -- of free prints per year, and they only cost 10 cents/page after that.

If the printer - not computer - is broken, teachers allow you to email it. If the computer is broken, they allow you and expect you to handwrite it.

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Posted by problem solved
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 26, 2013 at 12:12 pm

A laser printer meets all the OP's requirements: High-upfront purchase cost representing the cost of the machine and low per-page ink cost representing the cost of the ink. You can also get black and white one's for around $100 that will print for 100's of pages ootb at fraction of the time it takes to print using inkjet. It's a great investment once your child starts middle school. Check them out at Amazon (or Frys)!

As to whether you replace paper with email, a paperless office has been promised for decades and it just doesn't work. Marking up documents is going to take the teacher a lot longer and be more painful on-line than on paper. It always seems like it's a great solution but, unless it's more efficient, it isn't. Email what works but expect to print out anything that doesn't.

1 person likes this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 26, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Believe it or not, there are students (and families) who attend PAUSD schools and cannot afford to either own a PC and/or pay for Internet access from home. Don't assume that this is just a Tinsley student issue - because it is not.

You can't require 100% technology usage without funding that would provide all students equal access to tools that affect a student's academic grade/performance.

1 person likes this
Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 26, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Crescent Park Dad - I don't think people realize that families don't have internet access at home, I assume many don't have printers either. It would be nice for more teachers to give kids the option of turning things in online. But like everything else in our District, some teachers embrace technology and some don't. My kids have had teachers that assign things to be watched online with online questions to answer and have had teachers that do everything using paper.

Midtown resident - if printing things is a hardship for your family, you could ask the teachers if your student can email them their work, my son did that one night when we couldn't get our printer to work, he emailed his paper to his teacher and she printed it for him.

3 people like this
Posted by Paly Alum
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 26, 2013 at 7:28 pm

@Old School: Most of the English teachers in PAUSD don't write comments on papers anyway, sigh. PAUSD used to churn out excellent writers (even the potheads) because the English departments were strong and English was taught in the traditional method. Nowadays, we are surprised if we see comments on papers. There are teachers who have students trade papers and correct each other's writing, gasp! It should be part of the job description of an English teacher to write feedback on papers.

1 person likes this
Posted by Midtown resident
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 26, 2013 at 10:27 pm

Replying to various people..

I agree that laser printers seem like a good solution. I'll check it out, thanks.

No Its not a financial hardship to me but could be to others. However, I work very hard every day, putting in long hours. I do not cheat anyone and refuse to let someone steal my hard-earned money which is simply what these printer companies are doing. A quarter of HP's revenues used to come from printer ink - one of the most expensive liquids in the world despite the fact that it only costs a few dollars a gallon to make. Of course I don't have to buy HP's printers, but other companies play the same dirty tricks. Once you buy a printer, you are a captive, to be fleeced regularly, to allow some dishonest executive to live a lavish lifestyle, at your expense.

Agreed, this is not the best forum to try to make this change. It just happened that my daughter found at the last minute on a Sunday evening when all the stores had closed, that she had to print out a homework.
I believe most of the home printing is for kids' homework so this is as good a place as any, to start. I'm not targeting schools, just asking.

I agree that paper still has a role. I wasn't suggesting doing away with paper, just allowing kids to email it in if they want to.

1 person likes this
Posted by teacher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2013 at 11:23 pm

Although I prefer to do my grading online, many teachers instead prefer to write their comments on printed copies of papers. If the students submits their papers electronically, this means that the teachers will have to print them out, which is a lot of extra work and expense.

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Posted by Ron
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 27, 2013 at 12:27 am

My kid has been complaining about our dot matrix printer and tractor feed paper. I don't see the problem, though finding ribbons for the printer is not as easy as it once was.

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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2013 at 8:05 am


Do you know a good place to get perforated dot matrix paper? We're still working through our old boxes but will run out eventually.

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Posted by Erin
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 27, 2013 at 9:35 am

Crescent Park Dad and Palo Alto Parent - PAUSD has a program to help families with technology if they can't afford it. All anyone needs to do is ask at the district office or the secretary at their school site. The libraries are also open after school for kids to use the computers.

1 person likes this
Posted by look locally
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2013 at 11:16 am

Hey Hewlett-Packard are you listening to your own community's assessment of your business practices. Maybe you should be donating these ink cartridges and kid should be printing at school.

This is a less serious equivalent of Stanford profs and Google employees asking for less stress in the community!

1 person likes this
Posted by read
a resident of another community
on Apr 22, 2016 at 3:02 pm

Kids, are children under 13 and over 3. First of all, kids arent meant to have emails because of the COPPA. No mail service permits children to have emails. Also, there is no way to type it. SCHOOLS SHOULD MAKE IT SO TYPED ASSIGNMENTS HAPPEN WHEN THE STUDENT BECOMES 13 (sorry for caps).

1 person likes this
Posted by David Hernandez
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2016 at 3:11 pm

Hi. I am in 7th grade and i use google. My dad created the accout, not me. I use google and email the typed essays to the school without a problem. I use the school printer.
Also, @read, you know the COPPA means no collecting personal info from children under 13 [without parental consent]. It is okay if the parent makes the account because they are allowng the collection.

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