Hardly education, It was somewhere in between.
— Modest Mouse
I thought about doing the old “class T-shirt, $7; class planner, $8; bottle of sanitizer, $4 ... year’s worth of quality education, priceless” bit. But not only is that about as played as the old “Whuzz Uuuuup?” beer commercial, I didn’t have enough space to list all the materials.
Parents out there know what I’m talking about. Their kids returned to school a few days ago, and many of them are still suffering from sticker shock after buying the school supplies required by their students’ teachers.
I hate to go all “those were the good old days” on you, but I remember when shopping for school supplies was a relatively simple task. Your kids needed some paper, a notebook and some pencils — NO. 2 PENCILS! — and that’s about it. Take a couple of bucks to the local department store, and they’d be set for the year.
Here is a partial list of supplies required of fourth-grade and eighth-grade students in Lee County:
- — 3 Duo-Tang Folders (with brads)
- — 1 Elmer’s glue
- — 1 box of Kleenex
- — 1 disinfectant wipes
- — 2 boxes of crayons
- — scissors
- — sturdy book bag
- — Zip-Lock bags (boys, quart size; girls, gallon size ... and let me interject here, I swear I’m not making this up)
- — 1 pencil pouch (with holes for binder or space maker)
- — 2 Expo dry erase markers
- — class T-shirt
- — planner
- — 3 packs of five-tab dividers
- — flash drive
- — clipboard
- — hand-held pencil sharpener
- — large white polymer erasers
- — lots of assorted Post-It notes
- — 2 boxes of Kleenex
- — 1 bottle of sanitizer
- — 1 box of Baby Wipes (this is for eighth-graders!)
- — 1 package of glue sticks
- — 1 bottle of wine (red or white, for after-school relaxation)
OK, I made that last one up, but everything else is on the lists that students were given at the start of the school year. Frankly, both are far more extensive than most shopping lists I’m given on the rare occasions I’m trusted to drive to the grocery store for a few items.
The lists include some of the old standards — paper, pencils, notebooks — but there are a lot of supplies that look a whole lot like some of those grocery lists I’ve been given. Baby Wipes? Kleenex? Zip-Lock bags? Elmer’s glue? Clorox? Lysol?
Are the schools getting product-placement kickbacks now?
I talked with one mother who has two children in the Lee school system, and she wasn’t exactly thrilled when her offspring brought home their supplies lists.
“I couldn’t believe all these things the kids were required to bring to school,” she said. “I went all over the place looking for the various items, and when I finally found them all my bill came to $122. And I already had about a third of the items they needed at home.
“I’m one of the fortunate ones who could afford to buy all these supplies for my kids. What about the parents who are having a tough time making ends meet? How are they expected to get all these things for their kids?”
Certainly teachers and/or curriculum advisers could be a little more lenient when it comes to defining what’s “required” for them to adequately teach their lessons. If anyone understands today’s hard-knock-life economics, it’s educators who are forced to take furlough days (what that means, by the way, is days off with no pay) to help budget writers find balance.
Heck, for all we know, these struggling teachers are taking all these tons of supplies and selling them on the black market to make up for lost revenue. That, boys and girls, is higher education in 21st-century America.
Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.