School supplies and school fees
Each year around this time, I cringe as I hear the parents complain (many in front of their children) about all of these “issues” and how “teachers want so much and are ridiculous.” I wonder if these parents realize the impact their words have? I wonder if parents truly believe that teachers scheme and enjoy making parents miserable looking for specific supplies? I wonder if parents realize that the classroom teacher often has little to no say about what is even asked for on the list?
But before I dive further into this, let me give you a little background on myself. My first job was teaching within a school where the students did not have the basics, many slept on the floor and ate their only meals at school. Do you think these kiddos came to school with the supplies on the list? No! Their parents worked 2-3 jobs and the majority did the best they could. For the kids who had parents who really didn’t try that hard, I sure wasn’t going to make an 8 year old feel responsible or neglected for something they had little to no control over.
If your students don’t have pencils, they can’t write. They can’t color without crayons.
So like many teachers before me and many today, I stalked all the sale ads and purchased class sets of everything I knew those children needed to survive the year. Every trip I would prepare myself for what I knew I would hear.
I remember like it was yesterday being in Walmart and listening to the moans, the gripes, the questions.
- There are NO red or blue three prong plastic folders, WHY do these teachers have to choose red?
- 100 pencils? You want me to supply 100 pencils? (insert eye roll) And why Ticonderoga brand? There is a sale on these Target pencils, or this random brand- they’re much cheaper.
- Boys are assigned one box of Kleenex, girls have to get Clorox wipes?
- Dry erase markers?? Expro brand? You’ve got to be kidding me….
- Writing tablet with Kinder lines? What does that even mean?
- Washable Markers….and the Crayola brand??
- I had to spend $72 on supplies and then we have to pay ALL THOSE FEES!
I can still hear the voices of disgust. Go to just about any local store and you can hear it too.
Why Ticonderoga brand pencils you ask? Have you ever had to sit down and sharpen 100 plus pencils before school starts? I have. Buy the cheap brand if you’d like, but please know that at least ½ to ¼ of the pack never sharpen fully, they break if you look at the point too hard and they last about 39 seconds before you start again.
Why Crayola brand products? Because nothing else compares. Why do you need a red folder, two paper clips, one zip binder, two red pens, 75 erasers?? I don’t know, but I can tell you that there IS A REASON.
But let’s talk reality of what happens to the things you buy at the beginning of the year. The teacher gets maybe 12 boxes of Kleenex and possibly 3 packs of Clorox wipes. They barely makes it through winter flu season. By December, every crayon is broken, every marker dried out, all the glue is gone. The pencils disappear into the upside down, the abyss. They go into the same place where the socks go inside the dryer.
Cue the fee discussion. Most parents think, “That’s what the fees are for right?”
WRONG again! In Louisiana, (I would assume the majority of the United States), both the classroom supply list as well as the items covered with the funds from the fees are carefully selected. Only certain items are “allowed” on the supply list. Additionally, teachers are only allowed to purchase specific items using their “fee money.” I haven’t seen the most updated list of “approved fee expenses,” but I can tell you some of the things that teachers can not use the fee money for are things like: pencils, crayons, copy paper, Kleenex, etc. The process for using the fee money varies from district to district, school to school. Both this process and the rules are changed often. Many teachers don’t even waste their time trying to get that fee money. It’s simply not worth all the paperwork and hassle for the maybe $60 that was collected.
So if you are still with me listen closely. Lean in.
- BUY THE TICONDEROGA PENCILS, all 100 or more that is listed
- Consider purchasing everything on the list, even if your child is a boy and it says that only boys have to bring Kleenex while the girls bring baby wipes….BRING BOTH.
- Send extras of anything you find on sale.
- Partner with your child’s teacher. This doesn’t mean you have to take off work and physically be there. Just let your child’s teacher know that you want to help.
- Check with your child’s teacher on occasion (like Dec/Jan) – do they have a storage of anything?
- Treat them to a pack of FLAIR PENS. It will get you bonus points, promise.
But most importantly, please watch what you say, how you say it and who’s listening.
As the saying goes, little ears hear. Our children learn from our actions. If needed, push your feelings aside and speak highly of education. Be excited or pretend when you’re getting your kiddos supplies ready for school. Have a great year, the teacher wants this just as much as you do!
On a personal note, I don’t know who my kiddos will have this year, but I have two large bags of extra supplies, treasures and an amazing pencil sharpener for you. If my kids teacher told me she wanted a new mini fridge I’d buy it in heart beat.
Name your needs. Take my children.
About Linsey Doise
Linsey graduated with a degree in Elementary Education as well as a Masters Degree in Gifted/Talented Education from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She’s been married to Clay Doise for 10 plus years and hasn’t killed him yet. After a lengthy battle with infertility and several miscarriages, and with the help of IVF, she became a mom to Abel Alexander (6) and a couple of years later Eve Abigail (4). She currently is a stay-at-home mom who like to keep things real. While she does not enjoy shopping or eating at restaurants, she does enjoy volunteering with Phi Mu Fraternity as a National Officer, reading, running and lots of wine. Overall, Linsey is an okay-ish mom, trying to teach her severe asthmatic (Abel) and her “mean mugger” (Eve) to be includers, to be inclusive and most of all to be kind. She takes one day at a time to survive…and so far she’s 100% on that.