Thursday, August 27, 2009
Back to $chool $upplie$
For reasons that probably have to do with attending a Roman Catholic church, I have lots of friends with lots of children. While this provides any number of Aha Moments throughout the year, I'm currently fascinated by the annual tribal ritual known as Back-to-School Supply Shopping.
During the mid-20th century, each student arrived at school with a three-ring binder, notebook paper, a wooden ruler, a pencil, and a pen. Big Splurge: a Pink Pearl eraser of one's own. Bigger Splurge: pre-printed book covers instead of using brown paper bags.
The public school system supplied everything else. And if I remember correctly, it even supplied teachers with red pencils and gold stars. If teachers purchased anything to enhance the classroom experience, they bought hamsters, turtles, goldfish, and pumpkins. Not any more. These days, school systems force teachers to force parents to buy the basics -- and beyond.
"If I get away with spending under sixty bucks per kid, I'll consider myself lucky," said one friend who has the blessing/curse of four little darlings. (Actually, two of those little darlings are now in college, so the combined annual tab for their education is more like sixty grand, give or take a few thousand dollars).
I knew she wasn't exaggerating when she forwarded the list, which includes things like glue, tape, dry erase markers, and colored pencils in massive quantities. What really got my attention were the facial tissues and Zip Lock plastic bags. Good Lord have mercy, what's next? Toilet paper?
So for what, exactly, do I pay exorbitant school taxes? And why do 7th and 8th graders need to bring Zip Lock bags to school? I probably do not want to know the answer to either question. Do I?