Monday, August 24, 2009

The Dis-honesty of school supply lists

I have had enough of this school supply list dishonesty. I can hear someone saying "It's a racket, I tell ya!"

Why do I need to spend $100 per child for elementary school supplies? One hundred dollars is far too much. In the past I just went out and bought all of the things and carried them in to school like a good sheep. When I realized that more than half the money spent was for things that were going to build a class stock I was not pleased. I understand and accept that should purchase things my children need to use. What I don't understand is that I need to buy an additional $60.00 worth of goods that will go into a classroom supply bin. This is where I have a problem. This where everyone should have a problem. With an extra box of crayons/pens/markers/colored pencils/pencils per child means that the average classroom has a stock pile of 30 items each, assuming each child contributes. Where are these supplies going? Because I know there are not that many needy children in the average class at our school.

Last year I dragged in pounds of supplies to the school's open house day. When I was told by my daughter's teacher to dump her supplies into the labeled bins I became suspicious. I asked about setting up the things in my daughter's desk and was told by 2 different teachers to not "worry about putting her name on those things" because everything will go in the bins to be set up on the first day. Everything from her folders, binders to crayons. Still suspicious I labeled everything. When the first week began what I got back was not our things. She had supplies from 5 different children. I could clearly see under the labels affixed (to cover up names) to the binder, folders and composition pads that they belonged to other children. That my gentle readers is absolutely unacceptable. When you purchase supplies for your child I think it is expected that your child use those items. When you choose to spend the time finding a durable binder, etc. only to get a ratty used one in its place you have every reason to be upset. Then it hit me. Clearly if no one is labeling their child's things how do the teachers/school know who complied? When no one is taking tally of who is contributing how does that even begin to be fair? Those of us blindly spending our money to build classroom stock piles are being charged with the responsibility of suppliers. I know you're thinking, "It's so no one is singled out", sure but in order for a social program like this to work is that everyone contributes to the best of their ability. It does not work if several people who can afford some or all supplies don't contribute because no one will know otherwise.

I volunteer at the school enough to know that children use supplies differently. All I keep seeing are the visions of the rowdy kids who out of boredom break their crayons throw a fit and are then handed a pretty NEW box of crayons. Destructive children should not be using these extra supplies. My girls and most children can go to school with one box of pencils, markers, crayons, pens and use them all year without need for more. They are not hard on those things and a good quality brand should last an entire school year. (Let's get real here most schools don't have art every week.) I don't see the need to bring in 4 boxes each of those things. When I think back to all time I spent searching for those specific items to discover that they are not really being used for my own children or by children who really need them I am very angered. Why are extra supplies being handed out to destructive children instead of being reserved for those who really need them? I see that as $60.00 worth of food and gas that a family could use. Multiply that by the number of children you have and that adds up quickly. I don't like having to continue subsidizing careless children. This is where the system is going wrong. Families already short on cash cannot afford to keep this up. I bought everything on the list, however there will be a major difference in how I contribute. I will bring in the tissues, hand sanitizer, plastic bags and the other cleaning supplies. I will not bring in the extra crayons, pencils, colored pencils, glue sticks, pens, markers and composition pads. Those will remain at home for when my daughter tells me she needs them. I am very willing to bring in the extras plus more for a school supply drive until then they will remain here at home.

What about your schools? How do they handle the school supply collection? Please leave me a comment I'm very interested in learning how other communities/school systems work.


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Now I don't want everyone to think I'm a greedy uncaring person. Those of you who know me are confused by my rant here. I am not saying I want families in need to have their children feel embarrassed that they couldn't buy school supplies. Nor do I think it wrong for schools to give extra supplies to children who need them. The problems I see at their school is: 1.) No one is keeping track of who is bringing in supplies so it's nearly voluntary 2.) With no tracking lazy/apathetic/stingy people won't contribute which defeats the purpose of this form of subsidizing 3.)The excess supplies are too often given to destructive children instead of (being reserved for) needier children. 4.) Every year with 2 months of school to go I still have to bring in more supplies because my kids have depleted their supplies. Which confuses me since we supposedly brought in more than enough for one year of use.

I am likely over-reacting which I can do sometimes but with the economy in the shape it's in we all need to save where we can. My issue is more with the way my school (and I'm sure many others) manages the excess supplies not that they ask for them.

Special note: To be a voting member of our school's PTO costs $50/person/year which is another reason why parents don't voice a complaint about things like this nor get involved at the school.


There are others asking the same questions about this topic.

School supply socialism makes for an angry village
Are Parents paying for their school's supplies?

1 comment :

Judith said...

Tough, but it could be worse. Parochial schools in our area are charging for books too. So tuition+ books+ communal supplies. Our single mom neighbor went to Cosco and bought Lysol, paper towels, etc. She also ordered a cute backpack from Land's End. I know you want your girls to have nice things, but you wouldn't want a poor student to feel embarrassed about using the community bin either, right? (I'm guessing this is the logic schools are using. Perhaps someone else can confirm?) When is your next PTA meeting? Maybe you can find out if a community group is donating school supplies? Or a school supplies drive could be split into two parts (Fall and Spring)?