August 19, 2009

School Supplies... Or How I Blew $100 in One Day

The other day my daughters and I ventured to Target, armed with their school supply list. This year's list seemed more elaborate than last year, and I confirmed that thought at the check out. We spent nearly $100 for supplies... supplies for pre-school. I can only imagine the bill for elementary school and beyond. I suppose if you break it down by child, I spent $25 each... but had they needed new backpacks this year then the bill per child would have been even higher.
I should preface all of this by saying I grew up with two parents for teachers. My mom taught first grade. My dad taught at the college level. I have a great respect for teachers and the work they do. I have seen first hand the money they spend out of their own pocket to make sure their students have the necessary tools to succeed. My mom even spent her own money to paint her classroom. But some things on this year's supply list left me a little befuddled.
Backpack? Check. Crayons? Check. Water color paints? Check. A box of Kleenex? Yeah, OK. A ream of copy paper? Ummm.... Our public schools certainly face trying times. It seems fewer and fewer levies are being passed. But what is going on with the budgets that the school can't even provide teachers with paper to make copies for homework, handouts, etc?
I don't have a problem buying supplies needed to complete school work. I just find it odd that we, as parents, are now being asked to buy anything and everything the teacher will use. I'm not even blaming the teacher. I don't think she should be expected to supply her class with paper towels or cups. I just wish districts would take a look at their budgets and figure out if they're spending wisely.


Stephanie Manner Wagner said...

$25 actually sounds low to me, but I guess it is because it is pre-school items and my lists this year were for 3rd, 5th, and 9th grades.

Our public schools are a tad icky around us, so we do private. Since they are private schools I'm never quite as surprised to see the occasional odd request like white board markers for the teacher. Copy Paper? That's a new one to me too!

If it makes you feel any better, my H.S. student needed $425.00 just in school books (not counting the school supplies). I'm still stunned a week later.

jayewalking said...

Ouch! For preschool? For my grade 2 student, I'll be buying a new backpack and lunch bag, some new clothes since she's sprouted so much this summer, but that's about it. Oh, wait. I lied. She needs new indoor shoes as well. Maybe it's the district, but I've never received a list of supplies from her teachers yet. Of course, once school starts, I'll have to buy an agenda (which she'll leave at home more often than not). Hopefully that's it.

MaryAnne said...

You have a public preschool option? Where I live it's all private, starting at $170/month for two days a week.

Stephanie B said...

Item: One son, age 5 (soon to be 6) starting kindergarten.

School supplies:
Packaged school supplies for his school, Kingergarten: $57.99
Backpack: $12

Note that he has at least one item missing from the package I'll need to make up.

And he'll need more during the year.

When I think back to high school and before, I can't remember needing more than:

#2 pencils
lined paper
Maybe a notebook
Maybe folders

Maybe I'm just old.

Anonymous said...

This one really upsets me. I worked retail for a while in a poverty stricken area. People were very hurt by the huge list of things they had to pay out of pocket for their public schools. Nearly every single supply the teacher would use was paid for by the parents. I say "nearly" because we also got the teachers coming in and paying out of pocket for many of the books they would need.
Pencils, paper, rulers, tissue, glue sticks, pushpins, paper bags, popsicle sticks, pens, crayons, contact paper, reams of copy paper, etc.

In the meantime the schools had dozens and dozens of administrators. The teachers are barely paid anything, the classrooms barely get anything, but there's budget for an administrator for near every classroom. Explain that. Please.

Explain also why these schools are still failing. Why some of them (public schools!) were discredited last year. I went to school in California during the heyday of public education there. We were the very top. Most schools had many extra programs to help kids succeed, or help them get even farther then they were already going. We still had very few administrators. We still did not have these school supply lists.

Something very bad is happening with the school system. The only path upwards in career in education is to become an administrator. Only then can you actually make something approaching a living wage, but there's only so many administrator spots. It is some funky bad stuff. The only way to really make sure your child is getting an education is to be diligently involved.

I've got some feelings about this, you can tell...

Quadmama said...

First of all, I should at least acknowledge MaryAnne's point that my area has preschool in the public school. My daughters were fortunate to qualify for the program and I don't know how I would afford to send them to preschool if I had to pay for it. So I am so happy that option is there. Twenty-five each doesn't include anything but the supplies (meaning we bought their backpacks last year and I'm not factoring in clothes or field trip fees). I think polychrome_baby makes some excellent points. I never thought about the "excess" administrators until now.

Brooke said...

I'm jealous of your public preschool! We simply can't afford it for our 4-year-old, so I try to eek in enrichment programs and library storytimes as much as I can. I was hearing horror stories from other moms this week about all the checks they have to write out during elementary school (and middle and high school) registration days. And that's on top of the school supplies. I guess that's what our future looks like :)

Quadmama said...

If you have toddlers, call your early intervention program and find out if your school district offers preschool. Sometimes it's just not a known fact.

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