PDA

View Full Version : Holy School Supplies, Batman!



fidgiegirl
8-11-11, 12:06am
I picked up a slip at the mall to fill a backpack for an 8th grade boy. HOLY BUCKETS!!! I had no idea what school supplies add up to cost. That's embarrassing that as a teacher I really did not have a clue of what those supply lists add up to - and his was modest compared to my school's, really. Backpack, notebooks, pencils, folders, calculator. It came to $60! I am happy I was able to do it, and we can afford it, but my eyes are opened. If people buy all that new for every kid every year, no wonder it's an intimidating expense. And no part of it was even clothes!

And it was interesting how I felt I needed to put in some "fancy" school supplies for him (and did). He likes baseball, they said, so I got a few baseball notebooks for more money. Or I got not only plain wooden pencils but also some mechanical ones. But then I thought, well, why do I feel that way? Do I have pity because his family can't afford his school supplies? Did I want him to have some little treat in there to find other than just plain yellow pencils? Why did I feel he needed more than the basics? I didn't do anything wrong, but it's interesting to think about why I felt I should pop more than the basics into his bag.

I felt bad for the parents shopping. They were all calm, but the kids were clearly enamored with the newness of everything. One mom was telling her daughter they can talk about a new lunch box, but not in the store. They had to go home and look at her existing lunch box before making a decision. The daughter was nice about it, no fits or begging, but I would think all that negotiation would be exhausting.

Rosemary
8-11-11, 1:10am
We buy school supplies for DD as well as for the kids at a women's shelter that our church works with, each August when they are on sale. We also buy the art supplies we'll use during the next year, because this is just about the only time of year these things go on sale. I have noticed that the sale prices are higher this year.

I don't find the costs to be extreme, but we re-use things from year to year - not just the backpack and lunch bag, but markers, erasers, etc that are still perfectly good. The calculator is an example of a cost that will likely be spread over a few years.

Stella
8-11-11, 6:48am
We are homeschooling this year, but we had some seriously outrageous requests for school supplies last year. Each kid had to bring 8 glue sticks, for example. We do a LOT of crafts in my house. OMG. It's like everyday someone is gluing stuff together and I think I use about two glue sticks a year per kid. 8 glue sticks in a class of 23 kids is 184 glue sticks. Are they putting up wallpaper with it?

Our school has school supply ordering through the school, which is a nice option. I think it is about $60, so pretty close to what you spent Kelli.

Zoebird
8-11-11, 7:56am
it is pretty unbelievable.

when I was a kid living in CA, we never had to buy "school supplies." So when I moved to AR, my mother didn't think to get us any, any we weren't given a list anyway. So, I arrive at school with no supplies -- because they were always supplied to us. The teacher had a conniption that i wasn't "prepared" -- I was 9!

this is another area when my minimalism began. my parents would buy a lot of school supplies, based on "how to study" guides in books and such, or how my dad -- who taught at medical school -- expected his students to take notes and what not. So, there were a lot of redundancies. I really got the whole process down to a science where I would use one 5-subject spiral notebook with a folder between each subject, and one 3-subject notebook for the remaining two classes. And one of those subjects was for "doodles and stories" -- seriously, I was a weird kid.

I'd figured this out by age 11 or so.

I also told my mother not to buy the things like "8 gluesticks" per kid. I agreed -- it was crazy. I know that school budgets are small, but in my opinion, we could make glue out of flour -- which counts as science as well as art.

I was always a total PITA to school admin and teachers alike. "Oh, I told my mother not to waste her money on such a frivolous thing, when glue can easily be made by using flour, water, and a bit of salt, which of course you can get in bulk, pre-make, and use over the course of the year for pennies per child. In fact, I'll give you a dollar, and that should cover it." And, whens he protested I said "not my job to fund the other kid's art projects, but I'll bring my own glue, if it means so much to you."

No, I never did ingratiate myself. LOL

Float On
8-11-11, 8:04am
We homeschooled until the boys went into public school in 7th grade. I was shocked by the 7th grade list. I remember showing up to school with a 3 ring notebook with paper and adding dividers between my classes and a pencil and pen and one highlighter. Today the boys start 9th grade and they are going to school with leftovers from that 7th grade 'needed supplies' stash. Those lists are overkill.

Miss Cellane
8-11-11, 8:55am
We homeschooled until the boys went into public school in 7th grade. I was shocked by the 7th grade list. I remember showing up to school with a 3 ring notebook with paper and adding dividers between my classes and a pencil and pen and one highlighter. Today the boys start 9th grade and they are going to school with leftovers from that 7th grade 'needed supplies' stash. Those lists are overkill.

Yeah, I remember my school supply list being along the lines of "crayons, paste, pencils, paper to write on."

These days, a lot of the supply list is for organization--the kids need a blue folder to turn in history homework, a red one for math, a green one for science. My niece and nephews have to bring in ziplock baggies--I'm guessing those are for supplies of some kind. Some of this is an improvement--they are clearly teaching study skills and organization and how to make sure you remember to do your homework, but are all the supplies necessary for this? I was fine with one binder with folder pockets for everything. If I had to remember to take the green folder home today and the red one tomorrow, I'd have either forgotten, or grabbed the wrong folder. I had a system that worked for me. What happens to the poor kid for whom the multiple folder system doesn't work?

At my nephews' and niece's school, the kids have to buy an organizer that is printed up and spiral bound, full of stuff specific to their school--it's clearly customized with the school's mission statement and vision and the rules for student behavior. The kids write down their homework assignments in it. And it also has little tips on studying and doing your homework and that sort of thing. But it also has a lot of PC tidbits that kind of bother me--should a homework planner be spouting little "how to get along with others" and "how to be a better person" tips, or should it concentrate on being a homework planner? And there's no option for using your own planner, which is I guess what really bothers me.

Then there are the budget cuts. I can remember getting pencils handed out monthly by the teacher. If you needed more than one a month, you had to supply your own. Scissors were provided by the school. Rulers and compasses and protractors were provided. Tissues came from the school. But I see a lot of things that my schools used to provide showing up on supply lists these days. Including soap for washing hands--that kind of bothers me, that school districts can't even provide soap. The middle school kids in my town have to bring tissues, paper towels and hand sanitizer. But they also need both wide-ruled and college-ruled loose leaf paper because different teachers want different paper, which just seems ridiculous. Surely they can decide on one type of paper and let it be.

leslieann
8-11-11, 9:42am
The kleenex is the one that got me every time. I am certain, absolutely certain, that schools can order supplies like that in bulk and each box would cost far less than even what I could get on sale. I like the idea above, of the school doing the ordering and parents sending a cheque (even though that wouldn't work for Zoebird! No opportunity to help them mend their ways!). I do remember as a child when I went to junior high (yes, we had junior high) I got a three ring binder which I used for several years. But nobody told me to. My children had lists and lists of things; worse when we lived in Louisiana than in upstate New York, which I think simply reflected the levels of school funding.

Many of the items that my kids supplied went into a classroom stash. That is, there was no point in buying fancy pencils because all of the pencils went to the teacher to be doled out as needed. So we ended up buying pencils for the stash and then maybe one or two fancy ones for my kids to use themselves.

I used to make snide comments about the schools likely asking kids to bring in toilet paper next...but I bet that's already happened somewhere.

I am not sure what these changes reflect in our school system or in our (consumer) culture. But they do certainly teach our kids that you have to buy stuff when school starts, and that doesn't even make sense.

Zoebird, I had to laugh at your in-your-face frugality....I bet you were a fun kid in the classroom.

Leslie

Stella
8-11-11, 10:20am
Zoebird, we made glue for a homeschool project last year. It was fun.

The one that really got to me last year was the disinfectant wipes. Seriously? I don't buy that for my home, why should I buy it for the school? They are expensive and bad for the environment. And really, I live in a well funded school district. They need to buy their own janitorial supplies.

Perplexa
8-11-11, 11:25am
Our school (where I teach, not where I send my non-existent kids) charges parents $60/year for school supplies, but then provides them all, so it's about the same. That means we can order in bulk and order supplies as they are needed though. Being a Montessori school, we have an advantage though, since we don't necessarily have to have one of everything for every child since they don't all work on the same thing at the same time. 3 or 4 calculators will suffice for the entire school, etc.

As far as I can tell, in most schools there's no science to putting together these supply lists. The principal or some teachers sit down and brainstorm a list of things they think the kids should have and then send it to parents. I'm not sure they know much better than you do. As a child, I always wanted everything on the list (for the few years we got lists at all), but I almost never had everything, and it didn't make a difference.

Rosemary
8-11-11, 11:34am
I agree that the school supply lists are created with far too much abundance in mind. 2nd and 3rd grade, 48 pencils per student - really? That's more than one per week. I think kids would be far more careful of the supplies if they weren't available in enormous boxes. Last year, DD's class had a large quantity of unused pencils left at the end of the year. The school donates them to the district food pantry, which has a school supply drive each fall, so at least they get used - but since we already donate school supplies, I would rather buy just what is needed. I think this will improve as DD gets older and the supplies aren't put in a classroom-wide box.

I don't buy everything on the list. The disinfectant wipes? No, because they are wasteful and full of chemicals. Pencil-cap erasers? No, because they are absolute junk and split the second time you use them. DD will have a very good bar-type eraser and that will be sufficient.

In our school, it's only the very early grades that ask for handwashing soap. The school provides soap in the bathrooms, but with so many kids doing messy projects, it really speeds things up for them to be able to wash hands in the classroom too. I didn't mind buying soap, but I did mind the waste of all those little plastic containers, and the fact that many parents probably purhased soap that contained antibacterial chemicals in it. (On the chemicals: yes, I've already been vocal. Still working on getting a response.)

Mrs-M
8-11-11, 12:09pm
Ditto Re: everything said thus far. The first thing that came to mind for me when I saw this thread was, my own childhood and the school supply lists that my parents were overshadowed and darkened with. Protractor and compass sets (complete sets), pens, pencils, two different types of erasers, paper, binders, subject folders, and, and, and. Over the top absurdity. I think in all the time I was in school I may have used my protractor/compass set all of two times, so good thing mom and dad spent money on them they didn't have. Funny how over the top lists can get when someone else is picking up the tab.

H-work
8-11-11, 1:54pm
The protractor & compass set always baffled me too. By the time you get to the math pages that actually may use it, they are long- gone-missing or broken. I bought a set for my son last year to play around with. Came in a case with some mini-triangles (the drafter in me was swayed). But it was so cheap, it broke when I was showing him how to use it. Can't a school buy a set of well made math manipulatives and keep it in the office. When a teacher needs something particular for a lesson, then check it out for the day?

Ha, ha to Stella, lol, wall paper. Maybe they are :)

One thing about the lists is that the impression is that everything needs to be brand-spankin' new. I too used the same binder for several years. At home, we had a big supply of lined paper in a closet and junk drawer full of pencils, I just took them as I needed. My brother bought me a nice backpack for Christmas one year, I used it for years and years. (That might be impossible these days, everything is made so cheap!). I do see things like backpacks and nice scientific calculators all the time in the thrift stores. I'd scoop them up for the school supplies drive, but they insist on new in packaging.

Miss Cellane
8-11-11, 2:22pm
T I do see things like backpacks and nice scientific calculators all the time in the thrift stores. I'd scoop them up for the school supplies drive, but they insist on new in packaging.

I can kind of understand the supply drives wanting only new in packaging. If it's anything like clothing drives, people will donate worn out, torn, unusable things. And then the volunteers have to spend time sorting the good from the unusable, spending time on this, when they need to be making up the supply packages. And volunteers' time is valuable, as well. Make your volunteers spend time sorting through old rubbish, and there's a chance they won't volunteer anymore.

New in package solves a lot of problems for the drive sponsors. It isn't necessarily the cheapest way to get the supplies. And it may mean that they get fewer supplies overall. But it's not just a random rule to make people spend money.

It's sad, really, that they have to make rules like that. That people can't be trusted to donate things in good shape.

loosechickens
8-11-11, 3:09pm
I've commented on another thread about being shocked that schools no longer supply the items needed for study and projects, as they did when I went to public schools, and when my kids went as well. And with one child in five in this country now living in poverty, I can see where the elimination of this has caused hardships for many. Just one more way we seem to accept less than we used to think was normal.

Fidgiegirl....just a comment about buying a few of the "fancy" school supply items for the kid you were doing a backpack for. Years ago, I read an essay by a man who grew up in poverty and something he said stuck in my mind, and has benefitted numbers of poor kids since.

He said that one of the worst things about growing up poor was that everything he had was secondhand, secondrate, off brand, or lesser in some way than the things that more well off students had.

I've never done school supplies (wasn't even aware of that as a problem), but we DO every year spend quite a bit of money on Xmas gifts for poor kids, either through social service agencies that identify individual kids and their wish list, or tags on the giving tree at WalMart, etc.

If they ask for crayons, I always get the biggest 64 colors with a sharpener Crayola ones. If they want a Monopoly set, I get the really nice, deluxe set. If it's a Barbie doll, I choose the beautiful "Holiday Barbie" in an evening gown. Each year, we honor a few of the requests for bikes, and always pick a beautiful bike, and include a bike lock, helmet and accessories.

I want those poor kids, for one day of their life, to get a present that isn't the "cheapest" or an off brand. When that little girl shows up for show and tell with her Barbie, I don't want it to be a generic Barbie, I want it to be the one that is the most special. Maybe it's a small thing, but we all know how satisfying small luxuries can be, and any luxuries are a rarity in a poor kid's life.

So, kudos to you for picking the more special baseball notebooks, and other special touches. I'm sure it meant a lot more to that kid to have those few dollars extra spent than you can know.

And, now that I know school supplies are no longer something that parents can take for granted as being supplied by the school, I guess I'll have to add school supplies to our giving year.

Sad, indeed, though about things like 8 glue sticks or 48 pencils.......that, if nothing else, is a sure way to train kids to take possessions for granted, not have any sense of learning to be careful with belongings, and to encourage waste. I think if I had kids in a school system like some of those above, I'd be in there complaining for sure.

If the school system really IS too poor to supply learning supplies, surely, as someone else said, they could charge a nominal amount and use their buying power to get things in bulk and pass them out to the kids........

sometimes I really DO think we are going to H*ll in a handbasket..........

CathyA
8-11-11, 4:53pm
What bothers me is that nobody thinks its okay to go to school with old pencils and notebooks, or an old lunchbox, or the same old shoes/clothes. There is soooooo much waste in school. Then, there's having to get a special new t-shirt for band, every time you play in a different parade/sporting event, etc. Its ridiculous.

Zoebird
8-13-11, 12:25am
(even though that wouldn't work for Zoebird! No opportunity to help them mend their ways!).

this made me LOL. :D i honestly use hankies (and they are really common here in NZ -- but in the US, i was considered bizarre. I used to -- as a teen -- go to a lot of second hand shops and pick up hankies at 20 for a $1. and some such. people used to call me "gramps" when i used them (because they were usually "mens" styles and with monograms and stuff). Forget Kleenex -- bring back the hankie!

the way i figure it, if everyone just really thought about things and streamlined down to the basics, we'd all have far less folderol to contend with.

i mean, really, i asked the math teacher, whose list one year included stickers and glitter, what, exactly, those things had to do with pre-algebra? without a satisfactory answer, I refused to buy stickers and glitter for the teacher. Well, it wasn't my money, but I thought it was ridiculous. Yeah, i was 12.


Zoebird, I had to laugh at your in-your-face frugality....I bet you were a fun kid in the classroom.

the teachers who liked me, and whom I liked, tended to be the ones who could take what i said and let it roll off -- that is, just recognized that I was really an opinionated little thing, quite frustrated to be in a situation where no one seemed to get, to really, truly get, where I was coming from.

my parents informed me today that they don't really get it either. LOL but they still love me.

Tradd
8-13-11, 12:56am
I remember that for all of elementary school - in the 1970s, at least loose leaf paper and pencils were supplied. Not sure about what else.

Zoebird
8-13-11, 1:15am
I want those poor kids, for one day of their life, to get a present that isn't the "cheapest" or an off brand. When that little girl shows up for show and tell with her Barbie, I don't want it to be a generic Barbie, I want it to be the one that is the most special. Maybe it's a small thing, but we all know how satisfying small luxuries can be, and any luxuries are a rarity in a poor kid's life.


We did this too before moving to NZ and not being hooked into it yet. This past christmas was tough because I had no one to donate too. It's my favorite holiday tradition.

Zoebird
8-13-11, 1:18am
we are still using my husband's back-pack from high school -- and that was over 25 years ago -- and we were using mine until last year, when i managed to get it ripped.

i love reusing. which is why i buy quality. if i don't have to replace something, then awesome! i was the same as a kid. i would reuse three-ring binders year after year. when i bought the business here, there were lots of three ring binders not in use, so I just . . . reused them. Everyone was shocked. They were perfectly fine, of course, so why not re-use them? Weird, particularly in NZ, where everyone reuses everything, and then repurposes it when it's not longer useable, and then uses the scrap to make useable or nonuseable art.

Rosemary
8-13-11, 8:47am
re: reusing. 18 years ago, I was a college student working for a company that was seriously downsizing. People were cleaning out offices and throwing everything away. I retrieved about a dozen binders from "garbage" piles and used them for the rest of college as well as grad school... Most of them were from equipment manuals and had company names on the front. They are still being reused in our house today. So yes, I find the idea of needing completely new supplies every year not only aggravating, but incomprehensible.

cdttmm
8-13-11, 9:04am
I, too, find it shocking that parents would think their kids need brand new "everything" when it comes to school supplies. I don't remember having to buy much more than notebooks, pencils, and crayons when I was in elementary school and I remember re-using last year's crayons typically. Of course, we didn't have a lot of money so the most I ever got was the 48 pack of crayons...never the 64 pack with the crayon sharpener in the back of the box. I do remember my mom buying me a TrapperKeeper when those were cool, but I had to pay for the fancy folders myself (I always wanted the ones with cats on them, not just the plain colored ones).

When I went off to college my mom agreed to buy me a really good messenger bag from Eddie Bauer. It was a good investment. I still use that bag as a college professor 20 years later.:) Paying for quality and then taking care of items is the way to go.

Tammy
8-13-11, 12:01pm
and on top of supplies and clothing, we often had about 50-100 per kid in school fees at the start of each year. that was back in the 90s.

flowerseverywhere
8-13-11, 12:15pm
Why don't parents get together and ask to meet with the administration, bringing receipts for the cost of supplies? Maybe the teachers don't realize and the message could be spread to them. I would think in the spirit of cooperation it is worth a try. and if there are 480 pencils in the room I doubt that kids will take care of them like if there were 30.
Like Rosemary, I worked for an office that moved to a new location. There were piles of office supplies everywhere. I asked for permission and took home stacks of stuff that I gave to the neediest school in the area. It would have just been thrown away.

artist
8-13-11, 3:18pm
My brother bought me a nice backpack for Christmas one year, I used it for years and years. (That might be impossible these days, everything is made so cheap!). .

Not impossible. You just have to buy good quality to start with. I bought my son an LL Bean backpack to start Kindergarten with. By middle school it was too small to hold all his binders, but he still used it for his music lesson stuff and as an overnight bag for sleepovers. By high school it had become a gym bag/overnight bag. My son is still using it this summer as a travel bag and he's leaving for college on Friday.

I bought ds a new bag for middle school and he used it through high school before one zipper broke at the end of last year. We took it back to LL Bean (lifetime guarentee) and they gave him a store credit. He bought himself a messenger bag for college with the credit. So in all 13 years of my son's education I have only paid for two backpacks, one of which he still uses.

H-work
8-13-11, 3:32pm
So in all 13 years of my son's education I have only paid for two backpacks, one of which he still uses.

Awesome!

H-work
8-13-11, 3:43pm
Oh binders! Once in awhile I need a binder for this or that. I got spoiled when I lived near Boeing Surplus, where you could find nice white binders with the plastic pocket (in any size) for 10 cents or maybe a quarter. (Boeing Surplus is no longer a part of Boeing, sadly, they now sell all their surplus to an auctioneer.) Anyway, I needed a big binder recently and had a quad-ruple, triple-plus-extreme-pro-heart-attack in the aisle of the big box store. $17????? A few days later I found just what I needed at Goodwill for 99 cents. Phew.

fidgiegirl
8-14-11, 1:23am
I've commented on another thread about being shocked that schools no longer supply the items needed for study and projects, as they did when I went to public schools, and when my kids went as well. And with one child in five in this country now living in poverty, I can see where the elimination of this has caused hardships for many. Just one more way we seem to accept less than we used to think was normal.

Fidgiegirl....just a comment about buying a few of the "fancy" school supply items for the kid you were doing a backpack for. Years ago, I read an essay by a man who grew up in poverty and something he said stuck in my mind, and has benefitted numbers of poor kids since.

He said that one of the worst things about growing up poor was that everything he had was secondhand, secondrate, off brand, or lesser in some way than the things that more well off students had.

I've never done school supplies (wasn't even aware of that as a problem), but we DO every year spend quite a bit of money on Xmas gifts for poor kids, either through social service agencies that identify individual kids and their wish list, or tags on the giving tree at WalMart, etc.

If they ask for crayons, I always get the biggest 64 colors with a sharpener Crayola ones. If they want a Monopoly set, I get the really nice, deluxe set. If it's a Barbie doll, I choose the beautiful "Holiday Barbie" in an evening gown. Each year, we honor a few of the requests for bikes, and always pick a beautiful bike, and include a bike lock, helmet and accessories.

I want those poor kids, for one day of their life, to get a present that isn't the "cheapest" or an off brand. When that little girl shows up for show and tell with her Barbie, I don't want it to be a generic Barbie, I want it to be the one that is the most special. Maybe it's a small thing, but we all know how satisfying small luxuries can be, and any luxuries are a rarity in a poor kid's life.

So, kudos to you for picking the more special baseball notebooks, and other special touches. I'm sure it meant a lot more to that kid to have those few dollars extra spent than you can know.

And, now that I know school supplies are no longer something that parents can take for granted as being supplied by the school, I guess I'll have to add school supplies to our giving year.

Sad, indeed, though about things like 8 glue sticks or 48 pencils.......that, if nothing else, is a sure way to train kids to take possessions for granted, not have any sense of learning to be careful with belongings, and to encourage waste. I think if I had kids in a school system like some of those above, I'd be in there complaining for sure.

If the school system really IS too poor to supply learning supplies, surely, as someone else said, they could charge a nominal amount and use their buying power to get things in bulk and pass them out to the kids........

sometimes I really DO think we are going to H*ll in a handbasket..........

loosechickens, this is kind of what my gut was telling me, so thanks for the affirmation.


Why don't parents get together and ask to meet with the administration, bringing receipts for the cost of supplies? Maybe the teachers don't realize and the message could be spread to them. I would think in the spirit of cooperation it is worth a try. and if there are 480 pencils in the room I doubt that kids will take care of them like if there were 30.
Like Rosemary, I worked for an office that moved to a new location. There were piles of office supplies everywhere. I asked for permission and took home stacks of stuff that I gave to the neediest school in the area. It would have just been thrown away.

I agree. The school I have most recently been working in uses a community supplies approach. Everyone buys and then everyone puts in for common markers, crayons, pencils, kleenex, etc. I think kids keep their own folders and notebooks, but, for example, loose leaf paper is community property . . . I see both the upside and downside. If you ARE one of the very few poor kids in that affluent school, no one would notice by your school supplies. Everyone uses the same thing. And as a specialist teacher, I didn't have to worry about getting supplies for my room or having to have kids bring their pencil bag or something every time. I just had it, and if we were going to use it, we used it, and if not, we didn't. Also, we didn't have issues with theft or anything like that (for the most part) because everyone had everything they needed and it was just all the same anyway.

On the flip side, some children were destructive and quite wasteful with these community supplies, as I see it. I can't help but think that if they were theirs alone, they would take better care of them and be more responsible for having the tools they needed.

In the future, I don't know that I would do a fill-a-backpack-for-one-kid style drive like the one I just did for the first time. I just couldn't give joyfully for many of the reasons listed above. For example, one of the items on the 7th/8th grade list was the scientific calculator. Well, if he was an 8th grader, why didn't he still have the one he presumably used in 7th grade? I don't begrudge the kid nice or needed things, but with that money I could have bought, say, notebooks for a different child if the first one already had a calculator to use. I couldn't have known if he had one or not, of course. But the fact that I'm even thinking about it suggests it might not have been the right giving approach for me. I might instead seek a more community approach, like giving notebooks or pencils or even calculators to a school and having them decide who needs that particular item to fill in the gaps. It would still fill the need but perhaps more efficiently and in a way both recipient and giver could feel good about.

flowerseverywhere
8-14-11, 8:16am
On the flip side, some children were destructive and quite wasteful with these community supplies, as I see it. I can't help but think that if they were theirs alone, they would take better care of them and be more responsible for having the tools they needed.

In the future, I don't know that I would do a fill-a-backpack-for-one-kid style drive like the one I just did for the first time. I just couldn't give joyfully for many of the reasons listed above. For example, one of the items on the 7th/8th grade list was the scientific calculator. Well, if he was an 8th grader, why didn't he still have the one he presumably used in 7th grade? I don't begrudge the kid nice or needed things, but with that money I could have bought, say, notebooks for a different child if the first one already had a calculator to use. I couldn't have known if he had one or not, of course. But the fact that I'm even thinking about it suggests it might not have been the right giving approach for me. I might instead seek a more community approach, like giving notebooks or pencils or even calculators to a school and having them decide who needs that particular item to fill in the gaps. It would still fill the need but perhaps more efficiently and in a way both recipient and giver could feel good about.

Sometimes I wonder how we got so away from parental responsibility. I see single moms struggling and always think there is a partner somewhere in this equation who has responsibility too. I have a friend who has never seen a dime from the sperm donor, despite taking him to court. I see women who have multiple children with multiple fathers with no way to pay the bills and don't seem to have any qualms about it. Then there are the posters like someone here who works seven days a week and just is above the free lunch level- should they be responsible to send in school supplies for kids whose parents don't work seven days a week? And the generous people here who donate supplies and don't even have children in the school- it would be respectful if the children used your supplies wisely and thankfully.

You know, maybe having limited supplies in the classroom and telling the kids to keep track of their pencils instead of a big box of glue sticks and pencils that you don't have to take care of could be a good thing. All around the world you see stories of the financial problems countries are having, and the safety net is indeed being punched full of holes. Teaching responsibility and that there is a limited supply of things and you have to take care of things could be a valuable lesson.

mara61
9-13-11, 9:30pm
My son's school gives out school supply lists which are put together by the teachers (it's a smaller private Lutheran school), the lists do include the tissue and the wipes. What gets me are the "extra" pair of gym shoes that have to be left at school. I realize they don't want the the gym floor messed up, but honestly I know I didn't keep an extra pair at school when I went to elementary school. My boys don't mind using last years or previous years supplies and thankfully, my oldest is always hunting for a deal so it won't cost so much. I know that the bulk of the kids that attend the school reuse what they can from year to year. I also supply separate soap for my youngest, it's safe for him to use and it's kept in his room. We also do school uniforms, but have a resale a few times a year. EVERYONE shops them, including the families that you "think" have money. I have talked to quite a few of them...those big cars, ONLY come out for school drop off. The remainder of the time, they drive the little cars. This came about when they saw one of my rentals (I have a lemon of a car, Malibu), it was all they dealer had and was an Excursion. They were warning me of the cost of the gas and how it just wasn't worth it. Makes you wonder....

granola19
9-29-11, 12:27pm
I read in our local paper that the one area high school distributed laptops to EVERY freshman. My MIL who is a teacher in another state now has iPads for many of the teachers and students. What bothers me is this...although students don't have to purchase these items, the public does through their tax dollars! I understand the move of technology and needing to learn how to use it but I don't like footing the bill for every kid to have their own laptop computer and certainly not an iPad. It goes against my values of doing more with less, frugality, and sustainability. I think it also taps into the consumerist attitudes and now all these kids are going to think they NEED an iPad or NEED a laptop computer to learn. Whatever happened to a book?

domestic goddess
9-29-11, 1:55pm
I have granddaughters who think they must have everything new each year. We live in a well-heeled area, and don't want the girls to stand out as "the poor kids". We generally do get each a new backpack each year, but the old one is used to carry towels, ect. to and from swimming lessons, or for sleepovers, or whatever may come up. They usually eat lunch at school, so we don't always buy lunchboxes. So many of the supplies on the list from school come with the note "please don't label with names, we share", that I think there must be more kids coming from families where finances are tight than I used to think. I don't mind paying a little more if it means everyone has what they need. Since they girls don't come home with any of these shared items at the end of the year, I assume they are well used.
We don't have huge, new, expensive vehicles, or a big house or other fancy items, so we can buy the stuff at "back to school time", and we do watch for the sales. No cable, so that money saved more than funds our school purchases. The PTO has started putting together of back packs stocked with the items each child needs for their particular year, but honestly, the girls and I have fun shopping. This year, I took each girl separately, and then we went to lunch, and it was a nice granddaughter/grandmother day. They both wanted to eat lunch at the Subway in Walmart! LC and fidgiegirl, I know what you mean about buying nicer items for the "poor kids" than I often do for my granddaughters. My dgds have plenty of nice things, and I think a child who often or always has to wear hand me downs, take hand me down backpacks and lunchboxes to school, etc., appreciates having something new and top of the line for a change. I shop that way, too, if the item isn't too expensive. If it is going to break the bank, then I figure I can go a bit down on the price scale.

loosechickens
9-29-11, 3:34pm
yeah, domestic goddess.......I've been SO glad over the years that I read that guy's essay, and wish there was a way I could remember its author and let him know how many kids' days may have been brightened by that "one really special, top of the line" item in their gifts because of what he said. Because, since, I've asked a lot of people who grew up poor what were some of the worst things about it, and that "never, ever having things that weren't second hand, second rate, off brand, or the cheapest" always seems to be in there.

Every time I buy one of those over the top "Holiday Barbie" dolls at Christmas, I have to remind myself about that, since I HATE the whole idea of Barbies to begin with, but know that somewhere out there, there is a child with very little, who will open that package on Christmas, and for once, have something nice to take for Show and Tell at school, etc.

Sometimes what seem like such small things to those of us who have always lived middle-class lives, means the world to poor kids. They are bombarded with the same advertising messages as the rest of us, yet the adults in their lives have little to no ability to give them any of those bright and shiny things.....I'm as non-consumer as most anyone can be, but sometimes............

domestic goddess
9-29-11, 4:01pm
You're right, LC. I think sometimes you have to put your own preferences aside and think about what it means to someone else to have what they see advertised and have little hope of ever owning. To think of how a child's face may light up when she or he opens the name brand current top "flavor", is really heartwarming. I know they have mentioned at my church, that when buying gifts for children, or even adults, who may be, uh, not financially blessed, to try to buy the bright and shiny name brand thing if possible. I have heard adults who had very little as children say they still remember the year they got the "hot toy" that was advertised constantly on TV. It does remind me that I have been truly blessed throughout this life, and that I can do something for someone else not in my lucky position. And, come to think of it, it is mostly luck, although I have worked hard not to blow my chances, the fact that I have had so many choices has been the luck of the draw. The family I was born into, the color of my skin, and so on were not choices I could make.
And, I just love seeing happy kids at Christmas and Birthdays!