It’s back to school time. You can tell because it’s the time of year when parents and students can be seen frantically searching store aisles looking to fill the list of school supplies.
According to some school supply lists, those frantic parents and students are not only seeking out a long list of items but are searching out specific brands of those items.
Most items one would find on school supply lists are your ordinary supplies that one would expect to be required material – a ruler, pencils, pens, erasers, etc. However, other items found on some lists raised a few eyebrows and have parents wondering why these are considered necessities in some classrooms. Things such as baby wipes, packages of plastic spoons, straws, white board markers and erasers – are these really essentials to learning?
And when did blackboards become white? And if chalk and chalkboard erasers were provided by the schools, why are students responsible for bringing markers and erasers for the white boards?
If some of the requested items haven’t left parents frustrated enough, the quantities that some teachers and schools are asking for probably left them flabbergasted. For instance, there were reports of some classrooms asking for 48 pencils – yes that’s four dozen pencils per child. One online commenter on the Journal Pioneer school supplies story this week took one pencil and did the math to figure out that with “approximately 25 kids in her class, if they all bring 48 pencils that's 1,200 pencils.” That’s more lead than an Al Pacino movie.
Even 36 pencils per student, as some other lists requested, seems like a lot of pencils for one student for about nine months of school.
No wonder the back-to-school ads are looking more like Christmas shopping ads – parents going through the stores checking off their long shopping lists.
In fairness to the educators out there, teachers don’t treat their students with 48 pencils and three boxes of tissue any differently than they would those armed with only a dozen pencils and a box of Kleenex.
However, it would be fairer to all parents and students if all these lists were consistent. There should be one standardized school supply list per grade for all Island schools.
These lists should not be specifying certain brands of supplies and should not be requesting exorbitant amounts of particular items. Two dozen of the standard, wooden, lead pencils should be enough for any student for a year. If they’re using more than that, the teachers might want to check to make sure they’re not snacking on them or that the classroom sharpener isn’t too sharp.