It’s getting to be that time of year once again – the inevitable time when our young ones (and some not quite as young) go back to school. A time for our children to be shaped and molded into the future generations that will make our country great.
Oh wait………that was the old way of thinking wasn’t it? Does that even still exist? I remember when it used to.
Anyway……..one of the things I have seen over the years is the time when the school supply lists come out. They’re usually put in brightly-colored stands by the store entrances saying "Here! Buy ALL of this for your children!" I’m used to school lists – we used to have those every year where the school told us what we should have in order to be adequately supplied for the upcoming year. There is a twist to the lists for the school kids these days………they now include things that would not normally be for just your child. Examples include things like printer paper, hand sanitizer, boxes of Kleenex, and toilet paper.
Wait a minute. Did the school’s funding dry up overnight and I was just too oblivious to notice? Printer paper?? Toilet paper??
The other thing that bothers me in a way is that when we buy all of these supplies for our children and send them off to school, the supplies seem to find their way out of our children’s backpacks and school boxes into a "classroom supply" bin where the teachers dole them out at their discretion!
So why do we bother to ask our kids what supplies they would like when there is no guarantee that they will retain possession of them? Why buy a nice set of pencils and markers when there is no guarantee that what they get to use will be the same things we bought for them? I remember back in our day, our parents were required to make sure their kids had all the supplies they needed – nowadays it seems to be the requirement to provide for the collective and then hope that they dole out enough supplies to make sure everyone has something to use.
Before you come back with "Well, what about the parents who don’t have enough money to get school supplies for their kids?" Well, with a minimum of effort, they can sign up for any number of programs to help with getting adequate supplies for their kids……it’s just many don’t WANT to, or are not educated about those options, so they rely on everyone else to pick up the slack. I know……….I hear you thinking "That’s a selfish way to be!". No………not really. We are teaching that every family is responsible for adequately making sure their kids have what they need for the school year.
NOW…….that said, I do remember if one kid in our class didn’t have something, and their neighbor did, most often times, they were able to borrow and return various items in order to do what needed to be done. What does that teach? It teaches things like respect, honestly, friendship, and self-reliance. To me, these are not bad traits to learn. It’s something that will help them later on in life as well, so they don’t become co-dependent people relying on everyone else to bail them out of a jam that can be easily remedied. Back in our day, families communicated with each other, especially those whose kids played together, and often times, families shared resources between them without having them be required by the school to bring to class for the teachers to worry about managing resources. Don’t they have enough on their plate worrying about teaching them skills without having to micromanage how many pencils each kid has?
The teachers aren’t faring any better in this showdown either. I hear stories about many teachers who are paying out of their OWN pockets for school supplies. Realistically, it’s not their job to make sure their students have the supplies – if anything, the school district should have enough in their budget to provide some supplies! Teachers really don’t get paid as well as we would like to believe, and I think this is one of the causes of our kids not getting proper education – the teachers are stressed out buying supplies and managing resources that they don’t have what THEY need to make the education process a positive one! School districts propose mill levies to get more funding for schools, yet they get shot down repeatedly. Why? Because the community doesn’t think the schools are doing a good enough job teaching our children. Well, if the schools let the kids play before school, not spend so much time worrying about how many supplies they can collect, and actually teach basic skills the way they have been done for years, then perhaps things would be a bit better. I applaud teachers who buy supplies freely out of their own kindness, but with them not being paid well as it is, is it really fair for them to be footing the bill out of THEIR own pockets? Is it?
I’m sorry, but it scares me a little bit when the cashiers at the places I do business with get the deer in the headlights look when they have to do basic math in their heads. Do they not teach things like times tables and basic math operations anymore, or do they just want people to punch numbers into a calculator all of the time to give them the answers? So here’s what we do……….make sure YOUR kid has all of the supplies that they need, and do your best to teach things like making friends and sharing amongst each other when in need. Don’t make them rely on everyone else to pick up the slack to make sure everyone has a pencil and eraser to use. Last year, I saw radio stations handing out school supply packs to kids who needed them, which I thought was awesome! Fundraising for school supplies is a neat thing to do as well! When supplies are given freely, it’s a beautiful thing, as it shows people’s hearts are in the right place. It’s just not the right place to have them be requirements when buying your child school supplies for the upcoming year.