Friday, August 22, 2008

School Supplies are Expensive

The daughter and I bought school supplies today. It cost us nearly $200. From year-to-year I forget how much school supplies cost. We bought the essentials: backpack, lunchbox, and only the things on the school supply list from her new teacher. A lot of the cost is in tissue, antibacterial soap, antibacterial hand sanitizer, paper products, and the like.

We don’t usually buy the best, but just what she needs. Except, I do buy her Twistables, the nice twisty crayons and colored pencils. That is the way to go. One of my fellow soon-to-be teachers turned me on to them. The never need sharpened. You can get them in crayon and colored pencil too. Also, we opted away from traditional pencils and went with all mechanical pencils. I hate dull pencils and I hate having to sharpen them constantly.

The daughter’s new third grade teacher allows mechanical pencils so long as they are the non-refillable kind, which makes sense. That lead can be awkward for little hands. So I bought her 3 dozen of them and can buy more later if she needs them. Not very environmental, I know, but handy.

(Here’s a secret: I bought refillable mechanical pencils, but didn’t send lead. So she can bring them home and I will fill them for her. If she manages to bring them home in the first place.)

So how are poor families supposed to be able to afford between $150-$200 worth of school supplies per elementary child? That does not include clothing or sneakers. That's why so many teachers buy extra supplies out of their own pockets and why some teachers dump everyone's supplies in one community bin.

That makes some parents angry, although it seems a bit selfish to not want your child to share. That's just me. Maybe some people's Messiah would prefer the kids to selfishly hoard their own supplies and screw the ones that go without. Mine says something about what we do for the lesser of these, we also do to him. So sharing school supplies with the poorer children is an easy decision.

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