Friday, July 14, 2006

With The School Year Approaching Its Time To Get Your Cleaning Supplies

The other night I visited the local Target and Wal-Mart stores in search of the ultimate squirt guns. I found myself reminiscing the Christmas season because approximately one quarter of the floor space in both stores was dedicated to school supplies. Already?

I've been wanting to rant about this subject for some time.

The schools provide, in a circular rack like a gift card display, a list of school supplies that should be purchased. The lists are customized according to school and grade level. Fair enough. The lists are indeed helpful. However, the lists are so detailed and long, there exists many implications that I got to thinking about. One being that the lists are not provided for convenience but rather as a means of communicating the extent of the dire fiscal straits public schools are in. Also, the lists are so matter of fact and exact with purchasing expectations that the message is loud and clear, everything on the list is an absolute requirement and must be purchased. Or else what?

I know, you think this rant is founded from the typical argument, with the property taxes I pay why do I have to buy anything other than basic schools supplies? Yes, that is part of it, but why be so exact with the lists and why are the items needed in such volume? Besides, I know that most of the supplies are not going to be used by my own children. On the first day of school most of the supplies come out of a student's backpack and are inventoried and stocked in classroom cupboards and shelves. I witnessed it last year at my son's first day of school. So, it's a group sharing thing. All the students of a classroom contribute an entire years worth of school supplies. For example, one of the items on the list was a glue stick. But the list called for eight glue sticks. What, aren't there about 25 kids in a classroom? You see, that's 200 glue sticks. What if my little girl is extremely efficient at applying glue to her art projects? What if she only uses three sticks throughout the year? I guess I expect to see five sticks return with her at the end of the year.

What am I getting at? Not sure. Just ranting like I said. I am not against every student getting access to much needed school supplies. But, like I said, with the taxes I pay why do I have to purchase all the supplies from the list. This whole school supplies list thing is a joke and it alone proves that our public schools are messed up (not like that needs proof.) My frustration is based on principle.

Here is another sad part to this commentary. My family will purchase every item as required from the list, for both of my school age children. Mainly, here's the sad part, because I know that the teachers themselves would buy the supplies with money out of their own pocket if the parents didn't. You see, the teachers may have made the lists but the reason why the lists are needed is not their fault. My wife, currently a stay at home mother of four, served close to ten years as a public school teacher and I used to go classroom supply shopping with her. Again, with the taxes I pay, and the taxes the teachers pay, and the low income teachers make, neither one of us should have to buy the supplies to fill these lists.

Finally, what really sends me over the edge is the fact that a half dozen or so items on the list are not even school supplies but cleaning supplies like disinfecting/antibacterial wipes, kleenex, and napkins, cotton balls, and I also noticed ziploc bags are required. Exact amounts and exact brands are stated, that's what gets me. Why doesn't the school district cover these items? Why? For the love of.....Pat, why?

For the record, my wife and I send our children to public schools because it is the best option for us right now. We homeschooled my older son for the first three years which I think was a great thing for him. I happen to like the neighborhood public school they attend. But, I just think these lists are flat out wrong. I suppose now I am starting to repeat myself and so I should wrap this post up. Fine. I just don't like having to pay for all these school supplies, especially when some of them are not technically school supplies. Ok?

1 comment:

kristi noser said...

Could be worse, Pat, C.Sz. has a rellie in the south that has to send their children to school with packs of toilet paper. I too was shocked at what I had to buy when I first sent Hannah to school. I am also shocked that we have to pay for Driver's Ed. But I guess I'm willing to buy some disinfectant wipes and kleenix, and more, to tell the truth, so I can send my children to public school.