*Editor's Note: This post has been previously published here. (Link)
It is that time of year again. It is that time of year where you go into your local supermarket and get that college-ruled paper, binders, two-pocket folders, backpacks, No. 2 pencils, those big pink erasers, pens (blue or black only, not red and in many cases for the girls: colorful pens), markers, crayons, scissors, Elmer's glue (both the bottle and the stick).
For the new and old college students: scantrons, the TI-84 Plus graphing calculators and those ever expensive text books once you figure out which to get for what class unless the college bookstore at your campusalready knows. With technology today, laptop computers are becoming much more of a need today than a luxury students want with many teachers and professors telling students to turn essays in online.
Then you have items on the elementary and sometimes middle school list that make it on there yearly. Those items include Kleenex tissues, hand sanitizer, paper towels, baby wipes, Ziploc storage bags that have no barring in how a student learns or what a student needs to excel in the classroom. Those are things years ago that the school would normally supply (save for maybe the tissues). Usually they ask in multiples of them so that one would make it through the entire school year without needing to ask again to dip into families pocketbooks and get some more. These items these days typically add up to around $50-$75 per person - and that the schools don't have to spend.
Let's say on average a typical classroom has 20 students with 10 teachers for each grade to make the starting class of 200 students. A typical elementary school has three grades per building. There's a "lower" elementary school (Kindergarten - 2nd Grade), an "upper" elementary school (Grades 3-5), and a middle school (Grades 6-8). 200 students x 9 total grades (including Kindergarten) is 1800 students who each have to get those "want" items the school wants. 1800 students x $50-$75 per student = $90,000-$135,000 that the overall school district doesn't have to spend, and it is a lot more for the bigger schools who hold around 600-700 students per grade, just triple that total and it comes around to about $400,000 to a half-million dollars for these luxury things the school wants.
The problem with that today is for two reasons: We are still in a recession and many states are making cuts in education that is not fully funded to begin with, and local schools are trying to save money in areas where they put the burden (where it does not need to be especially now) on those families who have kids attending these public schools.
It is costing those families one less dinner date in a restaurant, one less shopping trip to buy what you wanted or (in today's world), one fill-up at the gas station because the schools in chain reaction from not being fully funded put these wants of tissues, towels, wipes, plastic bags and sanitizer for your hands in the pocketbooks of the kids' families.
You almost cannot do without tissues - those have been a staple on the school list for years now, even I remember having to get them. Everybody has to sneeze and sometimes the teacher goes into their pocket to buy this so that the students don't have to because they are pretty cheap.
The paper towels is inexcusable; the only uses that a school paper towel they provide in bathrooms cannot do is use as a plate for those Christmas, Valentine Day, and those "end-of-the-year" parties. I cannot see why one cannot go to the bathroom and get a couple or ask the school to have a stack of those paper towels in each one of the classrooms.
The "baby wipes" or the "wet wipes" are normally for the dry erase boards when the erasers start making the board too dirty or to clean the tables and other odds and ends to help clean up. It is the most excusable thing to add to the list.
The hand sanitizer is a complete want and should never be on a school list. It is just a more convenient way to wash your hands than to go down to the bathroom and wash them. That serves the same purpose as a sanitizer would. The worst part is that hand sanitizer kills good germs too (yes there are good germs that help the body), washing your hands the old fashioned way can save those good germs.
The plastic bags are pretty excusable since those much of the time are used for school projects, though the teacher usually uses the plastic bags for personal use around the classroom that do not involve the students for other storage.
These want items are coming out of your pocketbooks and are being used for convenient ways instead of using items the school has already. They could easily be saving families a lot more money by not putting items on the school list that the school could easily be providing using other methods - especially in the towel department. If schools could find more convenient ways of doing these things without costing the families another penny (and in a way not cost a penny to the school) then by all means do it, but how can families tighten their belt if the school list gets more expensive every year because the schools are adding want items to it?
Provide them yourself schools or don't have them at all. Find other ways to get the same objective done, families cannot save for the growing college tuition costs if they're spending it on all these items.
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