Tuesday, August 4, 2009

School of Socialism

It's that time of year again... the rush for school supplies has begun at all the retailers. I wrote a post about this very subject last year and I guess it's time again for my annual diatribe concerning the exhaustive list of "necessary" items to be purchased for school.

This drives me CRAZY every year. And, I was a teacher. I was actually concerned about how much my families had to spend. I didn't want to burden them with too many specific or expensive requirements. Usually the kids in my class could get by with looseleaf paper and a pencil, and a binder of some sort. When did the teachers lose sight of how much money it costs to outfit each child with the specific items on every list? And, we're sending our kids to public school this year, so I am surprised that every family in the school district can actually afford the mountain of paper, pens, and glue.

My kids have to bring so much crap that it makes my blood boil. 3 packages of construction paper? REALLY? I better not be giving all that construction paper so the teacher can make a bunch of bulletin boards. And how about having to provide crayons for the art teacher? Exactly what does she do with her budget??? And sharpie markers? C'mon... please don't tell me that my kid is actually going to use a sharpie marker. That is obviously for the teacher. That is probably the thing that makes me the most angry - when we (parents) start providing things that we shouldn't have to pay for (and neither should the teachers! THE SCHOOL SHOULD PAY FOR THEM!!!!) Things like kleenex, hand sanitizer, paper towels, etc. I mean, how long will it be before we have to start providing toilet paper for our own children to use in the bathroom to wipe their butts?

And, I have to ask, how many of you have faced this situation: you are asked to buy a ton of something (pencils, crayons, markers, paper, whatever) and NOT label it because it is all going to be thrown into a communal pile for everyone to use and share. HOW DOES THIS TEACH PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY???? Why should my daughter pick up a pencil that she sees lying on the ground? In theory, they should learn to do that to help the society (class) as a whole. But in 4th grade or 2nd grade or kindergarten, kids are just going to ignore that pencil on the ground and GO GET A NEW PENCIL FROM THE BOX!!!! Plus, why should I buy my kid the high-quality pencils when they are going to get thrown in with everyone else's pencils?

When Peppermint Patty was in first grade, I bought her a new box of 24 pencils. (This was at our former school in IL). I labeled every pencil with her initials. At the end of the year, she brought home over half of those pencils, and the next year - in second grade - I sent those same pencils back with her to school. She made it through the whole second year with those pencils. So, TWO DOZEN pencils lasted her TWO years. Now, tell me again, why should I have to provide three dozen pencils every new fall for my child? I know she is responsible for them. Why should I provide extras for the kids who aren't responsible for theirs?

And please, teachers, if you're reading this, PLEASE don't tell me how hard it is to get kids to keep track of their own belongings. Don't you think we already know that? We're their parents!!! And, if they lose their belongings, do the parents expect the teacher to replace them? No, of course not. The parents have to replace them. The student's work may suffer for their own lack of responsibility, but (gasp) it's a life lesson to be learned. If my kid needs colored pencils for a project and he left his at home, then I guess he'll turn his project in late, or have to share with someone else, or get a zero. I think the bottom line is that we (adults) should be doing what is best for the kids, not what is easiest for us. Yeah, sometimes it's a pain in the butt and often times it causes an extra argument. But, I'm a firm believer that the most learning happens from pain.

It is never ending... the school folders must be PLAIN! In red, blue, and green! NO YELLOW OR ORANGE. And crayons, 24 only please. No jumbos. Must be washable. No 48's or 64's. Drawing paper - loose, not in a tablet please. Lined paper... wide-ruled, not college ruled. And the clothing... polo shirts. No logos over 1 and a half inch. Pants with belt loops must have a belt with a buckle - no tied belts. Shoes with shoelaces must have laces that are white or the same color as the shoe.

So, here's what I've got: a school... where all my kids' stuff will be piled together with everyone else's stuff and given out to anyone who needs it... and quality of stuff is not considered... and everyone gets what the teacher gives them.... and who cares if you can bring nicer stuff to school because there's no guarantee you'll get something any better than the next person...

Is it just me, or does this sound a little bit like the proposed National health-care "solution"?

(images courtesy of Google Images)


OHmommy said...


Oh Texan Mama, I'm forwarding this on to some people.

lov said...

ok, so i totally see your point of view....but from a teacher's point of view.

first, my school system decided this past year that they would put together a list that were the ONLY things that teachers could ask for and take from the children. (aka the things that the kids can leave at school)
in kindergarten the list consist of a towel/blanket, a box of tissues, and 2 folders
the kids are also asked to get a book bag, and crayons and pencils for home.

i had no problem with this list until all the budget cuts. yeah, last year, all the crayons, markers, pencils, colored pencils, scissors, paper, glue, sanitizer, etc were provided for the kids at my school. (all of my kids were free lunch kids...in fact there were no children in kindergarten that paid a dime for lunch)

i felt like it was a fair trade that the parents got only the bare minimum for what their child needed to be sucessful at school, and if they couldn't afford that, it was provided by the school....

until this year....
the list remains the same, because of the touch economic times....
but the school can't afford to provide the children with materials, so it falls onto the teacher. yep that is right...
if i want the children in my class to have pencils, crayons, glue, etc., i have to provide every bit of it. sure i get paid a lot more than the parents of the children in my class, but i'm also working my butt off just to pay my own bills. i don't really have a problem providing some of the materials, but to provide everything i think just sucks!
i just find the entire economic situation crap!

HaB said...

Maybe if school districts stopped expecting families to provide school supplies for children other than their own, they could keep their house out of foreclosure and be able to actually afford health insurance.

(sorry - had to go there)

No, really - It would IRK me beyond belief if I was told I had to provide specific supplies, and that they were communal. I know here in NYS, I pay school taxes - and that makes me wonder what those monies are being used for? It should be used for school supplies. I don't think it too much to ask for the district to provide tissues, toliet paper, pencils, crayons and paper. However, it does make sense to me, that if the child needs or requires something above a defined standard - that yes, those should be provided by the parents, and not the district.

mommy nurse said...

Just wait. I am guessing if we keep spending our tax money the way we are spending it, next year you will have to provide the teacher! and then the heating/air conditioning bill. It should get really interesting!

Gigi said...

Hey! Just found my way here via MamaKat (http://mamakatslosinit.blogspot.com/2009/08/your-assignment-should-you-choose-to.html). I am so with you on this one - I would love to see a line-by-line budget of the school system! I realize that teachers are expected to pay for some supplies out of pocket and that is so wrong! We have a program here called Harvest for Teachers where businesses put up flyers and boxes asking for donations for the school we are hosting. Our company usually ends up providing quite a bit of supplies. But the crux of the problem is what is the school board doing with all the money? We even have a state lottery that was supposed to be specifically for the schools. That's not happening. Don't get me started - I could go all day on this subject!!

By the way - I was born in Texas myself and lived there most of my life!

Great blog.

Emily said...

omg, I'm so glad you wrote this post! We send our children to private school and don't 1/2 of what you described on their supply list! I whole-heartedly agree; children should be responsible for their own belongings and most learning comes from pain! I think parents and teachers who do not realize these two things are doing their children a disservice.
One of the reasons we didn't not send out children to public school was because they seemed more concerned with being "fair" regardless of responsibility than they do with teaching children basic life values and lessons and teaching them responsibility!

Em said...

I made the mistake of not buying the prepackaged box from the PTA at the end of the school year.

I will never do that again.

I'm pretty sure they make the list a massive pain in the @ss just so parents like me will buy that box.

Curse them. Their devious plan works.

P.S. anyone know where I can find a Mead Hytone 1/2" rule writing tablet?

Karly said...

Since we're all complaining, can I throw my complaint in? My kids are homeschooled and I still have to pay public school taxes. WHY? Why am I paying taxes for the public school if I don't use it? And why do I not get a tax break for supplying all of my children's educational items?

That's totally off topic, but you got me all worked up. :)

McVal said...

Great post! Our school system has the kids bring extra kleenex boxes and liquid hand soap, but other than that I put labels on all their things. There are a ton of rules tho about what kind of binders, book bags, etc. You get a bunch of teachers in a room and everyone gets their say apparently about what irks them... then they write it on the supply list.
I'm just trying to convince my girls that their bookbags from last year will still work just as well this year.... I'd like to save money SOMEWHERE!

Sturgmom said...

As a former teacher, I hear you!! I was usually IN SHOCK over what teachers at my school requested on their supply lists- and some of it was VERY specific brand-wise.

But I do love school supplies. Our boys are both in private school this year and all their supplies are included in their tuition, which is NICE, but I miss buying it, just for the fun. Yes, I may be crazy.

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

I guess I am just used to it. I complain more abou text books--check out this book http://www.amazon.com/Physical-Geography-Landscape-Appreciation-9th/dp/0132239019/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1249401087&sr=8-1
and you'll forget all about school supplies ;)

Yankee Girl said...

Wow! I don't have kids (yet) and never thought about all the crazy things my parents had to buy me for school. As a child, I thought it made perfect sense. Now, it all sounds crazy.

I'm super impressed that your child kept those pencils for two years!

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Jana said...

It costs Texas an average of $9000 a year to educate each child.

This SHOULD include QUALITY educations, and school supplies LOL

I am a homeschooler spending $2000 a year at most, and that include our outside lessons, field trips, curriculum and supplies.

I will stick to making my own lists, as I am the teacher ;-)

Wendy said...

This made me CRAZY at the New Mexico school, where 2/3 of the kids' parents didn't even know where their kids were most of the time, much less what they were doing, whether they were fed, or whether they actually showed up for 1st grade.

I sent her with a nice box of Crayolas. I get a note that she needs crayons. I find out she has 3 broken crayons left, all of which are those icky off-brand crayons that don't color right. Hers got tossed in the pile and that's what she got back. Booo!

At her old school she lost all her map colors & all her markers within three months. Guess what? She had to deal with the HORROR of using leftover crayons as a punishment until she worked for me & earned enough money to replace what she lost. And OMGsh did the teacher completely lose it. Because whether she colored her graph with crayons or map colors was the END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT.

If anyone thinks socialized medicine is a good deal, they should go to the post office more often. Or go stand in line at Social Security. NO THANKS.

Karen said...

I hear ya on this issue! It is that people are not accountable. We have churches in our area that gather supplies together to make sure kids do not do without what they need to learn. Teachers cannot afford to do what the government took on to do but does not do properly. (and we want them to handle our healthcare???)

Bridgett said...

When I was in 3rd grade, included in my pencil box was a pair of surgeon's sharps-and-blunts scissors (my dad was an ER nurse and, ergo, they were free scissors). I took that same pair to 4th, and 5th, and 6th, and 7th grade. In 8th grade we didn't need scissors. They had our last name engraved on them. I never lost them.

I can't even imagine the explosion at my house if my schools had done this school supply method.

My daughters, again, LUCKY ME, attend a montessori charter school. All is included in the purchase price (which is free, btw)--they bring a pair of slippers/crocs and that's that.

When I taught first grade, I just did not care. I had a big box o' crayons from leftovers from years past, and if a kid didn't have any, they could use those. Most kids wound up using those at some point, and some parents never replaced missing ones. I just didn't care. I had trouble with one kid (I htink he ate school supplies)--the rest got by.

You just, realistically, don't need that much crap in order to learn. When I taught in the inner city, where nobody had the money to spend on supplies, it was that big tub of leftover crayons and butcher paper for the most part. And all those first graders learned in my classroom...huh.

Anonymous said...

We moved to Texas from Utah last year and when we were given the list that we had to buy for two of our kids entering the school system I was SHOCKED. We'd never had to buy any of those things before. I totally agree with you on this post. It's crazy!
Thanks for being honest! ;)
Cute site!

Natalie said...

i didn't know you decided on public school this year. which schools???

i am now thankful that i just wrote the check to the pta for the prepackaged kit to avoid the stress of the whole "oh my i'm sending my baby to kindergarten" meltdown in walmart over not being able to find something on her list.

oh and i totally agree...the children NEED to learn responsibility for themselves and their things!!!

ItsKelly said...

As someone who doesn't have kids, I'm just happy that for the next week I can buy spirals for 5 cents. Do I need spirals? No! But 5 cents!

It really is ridiculous. Many families cannot afford all the supplies. My mom is a teacher and spends a good part of her salary buying shoes and winter coats for her students. Really, sharpies don't seem like such a necessity.

Jennifer said...

I'm so tired tonight that I can't read all the comments, but I'm sticking with my $30 supply fee.

StaceyC4 said...

I am so totally with you on this one! The school supply list makes me loopy each year. Sometimes it would be easier to find Waldo than some of the specifics that these teachers have on their list!!

anymommy said...

So, what I'm hearing is that you're not a big fan of back to school supply lists? Lol. I get it. And, I dread it.

Nessa said...

I couldn't agree more with this post. The school supply requirements drive me crazy! And yes, most of the time my kids' supplies go into the community pot to be divided up by the teacher. Last year Ashley freaked out because we bought her glittery, floral pencils yet she had to make do with the plain yellow the teacher allotted her. There are not many places on the list you can choose what you want, it's all plain colors & such, so they had to take her pencils with a little spunk to them and give them to someone else? Makes me furious. And don't even get me started on the expense of it all! Anyway, a fellow Texan completely agrees with you!

The Last American said...

I suggest having your child "lose" a couple of pencils a week (making sure they are pencils she brought) and smuggle them home, and keep doing it until hers are all gone.