Is That an Office Depot Sign Above My Head, or is the School Just Happy To See Me?
posted by: gretchen
267 pre-sharpened pencils from our family alone.
Approximately 2,200 sheets of “facial tissue”—enough to sop up the runny noses and tears of the local chapter of the Jonas Brother’s Fan Club for a year.
Baby wipes, zip-top baggies, paper plates, hand sanitizers, disinfecting wipes, and oh yeah. Some crayons. It’s nice to see crayons mixed in the list of odd requests. How did I manage to stumble through 13 years of public school education without a disposable camera?
When I look at my children’s school supply list, I begin to wonder if I am arming them with educational supplies or opening my own office supply store.
We will have four kids in school this year. I don’t mind buying their supplies when the items on the list are logical. Notebook paper makes sense. Glue? Sure! It would be strange to not supply pencils, pens, markers, folders, and scissors. But when I see that I must send a roll of paper towels with my first-grader, I suspect I am not arming him to master the finer points addition and subtraction.
I am stocking the janitor’s closet.
Every year, we are asked to provide more and more items that do not stay with our children. We are warned not to label anything with our child’s name because all 75 pencils my third-grader must take are thrown into the communal pot. If he has 20 kids in his class, and each brings in their requisite 75 pencils, there will be 1,500 pencils on hand for just his class that first day of school. Frankly, I have a hard time believing my eight-year-old is going to wear his share of 75 pencils down to a collection of nubbins this upcoming year. That works out to be an entirely new pencil about every other day. Maybe they don’t make pencils like they used to? I remember having the same dreamy Hello Kitty pencil for most of fourth grade.
Defenders of the over-blown and audacious lists claim schools have no choice but to require parents to supply the items the school district cannot. The budget is always blamed. But I am hard-pressed to believe the school district can’t provide disinfectants to janitors and teachers. My parents didn’t have to supply my teachers their chalk, yet we have to send in about 30 dry erase markers for the white boards in the classrooms. Chalkboards are obsolete, apparently. Who wants to use ridiculously cheap and abundant chalk when you can have a rainbow of brilliant colors explaining the mysterious dance of nouns and verbs?
Me. Bring back the chalk. Question the need for paper plates and baby wipes.
Give parents a break.
The solid majority of moms and dads are happy and excited to arm their kids for serious education, including me. I’ll happily buy 10,000 sheets of notebook paper because I feel it is directly contributing to my kids’ education. I want to see every sheet filled with stories, math problems, and what happened in 1867. I take school seriously and always have. But more and more I find myself resenting the lists which grow increasingly elaborate, baffling, and financially demanding.
My hope for next year is that schools, teachers, and parents can create lists together after thoroughly scrutinizing the need and use of every last item. Is it something critically important? Is there a less expensive substitute? In the case of things like paper plates and paper towels, is there something washable and more environmentally friendly?
What can we do to ease the burden on everyone involved?
Blast from the past. This post was originally published in 2008 but it still rings true today!