Friday, August 6, 2010

School Supplies/School


OK, my Kindergärtner's school supply list asks for 1- 8pk. Crayola Crayons and 3 - 24pk's. Crayola Crayons! WHY??? This is RIDICULOUS!!! At best, over the years, my kids use their crayons at school a few times and then they bring them -- largely unused -- home at the end of the year. I have a gazillion crayons in the bin in the basement to prove it. Every year we throw away the broken ones to make room for the latest batch. Think about this, I have been buying school supplies since my college freshman was in Pre-K, so we are talking 15 years of crayons plus a couple more kids worth added  in!!! (Did you know some High School classes still want your kids to bring crayons??? SERIOUSLY!!!)

Why does each kid need a pack of fat markers AND skinny markers? Up to 3rd grade make them fat. After that make them skinny. Dry erase markers? This is beyond me -- but apparently they MUST have the named brand from the list. Nothing else will do!!! Granted there are some that last better than others, BUT over the course of the year, only so many get used anyway. Know how I know??? Because I have a stockpile of them too! We usually get them all back at the end of the year... Obviously they do not need ALL the kids to bring them or they would not be coming back... RIGHT??? (Does anyone else miss those old markers that smelled awesome and gave you a buzz??? LMAO!!!)

Let's talk about GLUE bay-bee! Our district likes an obscure glue, apparently only available from the mom and pop drug store in town. It is about $3 per roller of Pentel clear liquid glue. ( BEST part of this??? They use this fancy assed damned glue in K, 1 and 2! WHY OH WHY do they need the most expensive glue on the PLANET when they are at their most wasteful age? Elmer's is frickin' AMAZING stuff! Works great! And HEY, those new fangled glue sticks are just ducky too! Sure beats that nasty, clumpy, stinky old paste we had when I was a kid! (Yeah Yeah, I know some people liked the smell, some even ate it, but whoa boy -- NOT ME! That crap was NASTY!!!)

Can we talk about wasted paper? HOLY SHIT!!! Every year at least one, usually more than one, of my kids is required to bring in 3-5 of those bound cardboard composition books. Why? They use about 10-12 pages and then they bring them home at the end of the year and cannot reuse them the next. WHY, you ask? Well, because the teacher, and sometimes the student, writes whatever they want -- all over the front and then the next teacher can't, so they need a new -- read: virgin -- composition book. Spiral notebooks? Total waste of money. They do not hold up. (HELLO!!! Have you seen what a boy child can do to the spiral???) The right idea? ONE binder with dividers and loose leaf paper! Maybe even a single 1/2" binder for each class...or a shared by 2n classes 1" binder... Why, you ask, should we go back to this draconian method??? Well, my friends, because it is cheaper and easier for the kids when they have it all in one place. The binders, if not ruined (see below), are reusable, especially if they have the clear slot in front for indexing the contents. Easily changed from one quarter/semester/year to the next. DUH!!!

Binders... Some teachers actually tell you they want a certain size ring binder... and that is GREAT! I hate not knowing what size to get. Especially when they come home the first week and say they need something DIFFERENT. Of course, by then you know that the kids have already mucked up the one you want to return and so you are stuck with it... What truly sucks is that some teachers tell you they want your kids to have a specific type/brand binder. Usually this happens to be a VERY expensive one. Why do I need to spend $15 - $18 on a binder so it can break and be replaced 3x over the year??? This is insane! A $3 binder will last just as long and sure doesn't feel like a sin to buy...

Tissues, zipper bags and disinfectant wipes... I get the tissues, OK. No one wants the kid with the snot nose  not to have a place to blow. I even get the need for sanitary wipes, BUT in all honesty -- the school janitorial staff should be sanitizing the classrooms daily during the flu/cold season. They get paid to clean up stuff. Why the hell are my kid's teachers wasting their precious teaching time or the kids precious learning time wiping crap down? I do not send my kids to school to do chores. They have chores to do at home! Zipper bags are the worst! Talk about a waste AND they're not environmentally friendly AT ALL! Not one thing my kids has brought home really needed more than either a paper clip or a paper sack.

REALLY BIG POINT HERE ABOUT ZIPPER BAGS and pretty much all school supplies: they are generally NOT very environmentally friendly, and YET our schools are trying to teach our kids to go green with much in their lives. Can you say POT-CALLING-KETTLE-BLACK??? The school leadership needs to look at the waste and the amount of crap we parents are buying every year. They need to streamline the needs of the teachers -- and the classroom as a whole -- to be more environmentally friendly from Pre-K to 12th grade and right on into college. I am not some over-the-top environmental freak. I know I can do better at home, but I am pretty damned vigilant about what I do incorporate into our home life to make things better for the future. The schools can do better -- A LOT BETTER!!! And they could give a really good example to the future of our country. Which, if you ask me (shut-up I know you did not ask), is what they are SUPPOSED to be doing ANYWAY!!!

Teachers have a very difficult job, and I know they spend  more of their own money than they ought, to get the things they (think they?) need. That said, I believe that some of them have gone around the bend and are just plain taking advantage. It is ridiculous enough that, for Public school, I have to re-register annually AND pay a fee for each of my kids to cover text books and materials for the classroom. THEN add all the supplies on the initial classroom lists which has a note at the bottom stating that individual teachers will be sending home specific required item lists for their individual  classrooms during the first few days of attendance. Someone PLEASE tell me -- WHAT THE FUCK DO I PAY TAXES FOR???

All these school districts that have had to lay-off teachers? I feel REALLY bad for them -- and yes, I am including ours. That said, all these districts ought to be damned ashamed of themselves! When you have a good year and sometimes a few in a row, that does not mean that you BLOW it all on stuff! If you don't have a buffer fund for troubled times or unexpected hardships, then you are playing with fire. The reality is the B of E should be the first to take a pay cut when tough roads are ahead. The highest paid salaries should NOT receive bonus' or raises' at the expense of the lowest wage earning teachers. The teachers are in the classrooms. That is the most VITAL of all educational positions. A big-wig's raise can damned well wait! Yes, they have families like the rest of us, but most of them have also been at the other end -- and if they cannot remember that far back, then they are beyond useless!

PTA/PTO -- I am SORRY, but we do not need fancy landscaping. We need textbooks and teachers' funds and classroom stuff that makes teachers jobs easier. We need to raise money for them to get the things they want/need, without requiring us parents to spend small fortunes at the beginning of the year for supplies. We need  to have reasonably priced fundraisers that don't put a burden on families or the kids themselves. It is sickening to me that they pressure kids by having an award for the classroom with the highest or 100% participation. These kids are essentially being bullied into participation by their peers and teachers in order to receive whatever lame-ass prize the PTA/PTO hands out. HELLO, these kids families may not be able to afford it, bit let's put the pressure on the kids and the parents will cave in and sacrifice more than  they can to make the damned PTO/PTA happy. How about where these schools have had to lay-off some of their support staff, the PTA/PTO's coordinate a team of volunteers to take up the slack, so the remaining staff is not bowled over by the lack of helping hands. This is more important than fancy artwork for the halls. The kids art should be the only art on display!

Kudos to my Hubster, who has a novel idea! These are troubled times, but some of the big-ass corporations are still making money hand-over-fist off the backs of many of us who are helping line their coffers. These companies REALLY should step up to the plate and DONATE DONATE DONATE. Not just a little, BUT HUGE amounts of money, material and even their time. They'd get a major tax write-off and they'd look good in the PR dept -- and then guess what would happen...? They'd get even more business from those of us already lining their coffers and more who weren't before. SO, they'd have made even more money, SO the tax write-off and PR points become the cherry on top for them.

One final item on this topic: Here in the mid-west, we were told by our school district, we are about 10 years behind the coasts in curriculum. WTF??? I am sorry, but this is unacceptable in the age of the internet. Get your fucking curriculum up to speed! Do not let the coasts have an unnecessary advantage over the mid-west. Chase them suckers down damn-it-all! My kids and yours deserve the best education out there and waiting to see how it plays out in the coasts is a lame-ass excuse for not making the effort. We moved here from the east coast and our kids repeated what they learned back home in the first 2 years we were here. That was inexcusable! All our schools here are computer ready and all the kids need to be given the most -- not the status quo. Kids are not taught to memorize anything anymore, they are told it is OK to have a calculator as early as 3rd grade! My college freshman is really smart, BUT touch math (and yes, she learned that nasty trick on the east coast -- UGH!) is the only way she can add or subtract. This is AWFUL! Our PTA back home brought in parent volunteers to run a math program for memorization to help our kids -- and it helped a lot, but I know many of those kids -- and they still fall back on touch math because it is easier. This is not a lesson we should be teaching our kids! The point is that the coasts do not always have the best anyway. The curriculum here is so rigid that the kids in the class who are more advanced are held in check to let their peers catch up. This is in direct defiance of no child left behind in my opinion. You cannot hold a kid back because they have already mastered the skill-set. Advance them to the next skill-set. How many of these kids waiting are turning into trouble makers or are becoming depressed because they feel they are not worthy of being taught??? If a curriculum does not encompass all ranges of the skill-set in a grade level, then ALL the kids are suffering from an unfair system. It is not bad to be advanced, it is not bad to be average and it is not bad to be the kid who has a hard time grasping concepts. Use these kids to HELP EACH OTHER and put their smarts to work for them and the classroom. DO NOT PENALIZE  the smart kid anymore than you should the slower kid.


  1. MCPS can no longer request supplies, only suggest them. The schools must now supply ALL students with necessary materials. And, due to the current times, we have less to spend per student than ever before.

  2. Suggestions are way better than demanding very specific, often expensive items. It gives parents the ability to say, well I can afford it right now, or maybe that waits until I can afford that.

    I like that MCPS has taken this turn, it has to be easier and more cost effective all around. Ideally this is where the PTA/PTO groups should be dumping their monies. Especially since, in the case of PTA, they cannot carry a profit from year to year, unless this has changed.

  3. This is probably the first year our school supply list has been relatively manageable. Noel is going into 4th grade and we have most of the supplies at home already. Maybe it helps having a big brother and sister who have passed down their supply of crayons, pencils, colored pencils, binders, pencil boxes, etc. I don't know how well I would take being required to purchase name brand school supplies, especially if there is a less costly alternative.

  4. As you probably guessed, I am NOT TAKING it WELL! LMAO!