The School Supply List And Gratefulness

My wife had with a conversation friend, that quite frankly, rubbed me (and her) a little bit the wrong way.

They talked about the school supply list that was sent home, which contains a list of supplies that each parent is asked to get and send in.  Many of the items are shared between kids in the classroom, while some are kept individually.  I think this proportion changes as the kids get older.

My wife was a little taken aback at one point.  The other mom kind of laughed and said, “Well, you don’t really have to sendmb-2016-09-list anything in.  They’re just suggestions, and really, the school is supposed to make sure everything is supplied.”

Here’s the thing, actually a few things.

Schools Aren’t Sitting On Cash

Our district, like many in Michigan, and probably many across the country, doesn’t get an excess of money.  Back in the days when the Great Recession hit the country, Michigan had already been in one for several years.   The Great Recession battered an economy that had already been taken to the woodshed.  The state cut school funding levels many times, and the amount per pupil that is distributed is still at or below levels from the early 2000’s.  This doesn’t even factor in inflation, which probably puts them back to levels over 20 years ago or pretty close.

Point being, while funding levels have steadily been increasing over the last few years, it’s not like districts are swimming in money.

People Can Afford The School Supply List

My wife’s friend can definitely afford to grab the list of supplies and send them in.  They’re not 1%’ers but they’re definitely not hurting.

So, I just can’t understand why they are going to decide to draw the line here.

Supplying Is Helping Others

There are some families who are hurting.  Our district is relatively small from a pupil count perspective.  It covers a pretty big geographic areas that includes a pretty broad mix of economic scales.  Simply put, there are a lot of families that simply do not have the means to supply that list.  Maybe there are some circumstances where refusing to subsidize people who might be too poor to afford to chip in is appropriate, you’ll never convince me that it is justifiable when it comes to children, especially when it’s a pretty nominal amount.

The whole conversation kind of bummed me out and I think actually helped contribute to my recent case of the money blahs.

See, we’d never considered, and even after the conversation my wife had, nor would we ever consider skipping out on the supplies.  My wife and I count as one of our blessings that we can afford this cost.

Would we rather spend the money on something else?  Of course we would.  Who wouldn’t?  But that isn’t the point!

Between the transmission problems on the car and laundry list of things we had done to the camper, we dropped over $1,000 just like that.  Would saving school supplies helped offset the sting of that?  Sure.  But would I ever go there? Not a chance!

In my last post, I talked about how I started to get out my money blahs by taking time to see how blessed we actually are, and I look at the fact that we can contribute the full school supply list as a blessing.  (Well, my son did leave two boxes of tissue on the bus so while it certainly ended up at the school, it may have ended up in a different classroom…but that’s OK *lol*)  We’re directly helping make a positive environment for both of our kids.  Plus, we may even be helping others as well.

Isn’t that worth the cost?  I think so.

My wife never followed up on the conversation as far as I know.  It’s very possible that her friend sent in all the supplies anyway.  Who knows?  Maybe this post is sort of a moot point.  I hope so!

I just wish more people saw their sending the supplies as what it is: A blessing.

Readers, do you have a suggested list of supplies to send to school?  What is your take on the matter?

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9 thoughts on “The School Supply List And Gratefulness

  1. I never really questioned whether sending in school supplies was mandatory or just a suggestion. We do try to shop around for the best prices, usually making the Dollar Store our first stop. My biggest issue was with requests for name-brands, like do they really have to be Crayola crayons. But my assumption was that all of the other kids in the class we going to have the specific items on the list, so my Goofball should have them too. I mean, maybe the teacher will direct them to all use a specific color crayon, that’s always in the Crayola box?
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    • Yeah, Crayola definitely seems to be the standard for crayons. But while some dollar store items are perfect substitutes, I know crayons can be wildly different and I have to imagine it would be a noticeable difference for crayons.

  2. I don’t have kids, but I remember school supply shopping for my own supplies. My mom had 4 kids and we didn’t get new boxes of crayons every year – you used the ones from the year before. You didn’t get new duo-tangs or binders every year – you reused the ones from last year.

    My mom provided supplies for her own kids – the first time I came home and described how teacher had taken my box of pencils and everyone else’s boxes of pencils and put them all in a big cupboard – she realized that she was paying for pencils for the 2 kids in the class who kept losing theirs.

    Our school district was in a relatively middle class area – none of the kids came from families that couldn’t afford school supplies – at the end of the year, the teacher’s cabinet was still FULL of supplies – which were *NOT* given back to us

    After that, she kept our supplies at home – and sent each kid to school with the stuff that was needed *now* – if we needed a new pencil, we shopped at home and brought a couple extra to school the next day.

    • It will definitely be interesting to see how it all progresses as our kids get older and there’s more transtion to their own ‘stuff’ versus a shared supply. I remember when I was in upper elementary grades that we all had our own stuff in our own desks. I honestly can’t remember back to the earlier grades so I can’t really do that comparison in my head just yet 🙂

  3. Most school supply lists are suggestions, but super helpful to the teachers who must supply the students with materials if the kids don’t have the supplies. Depending on the district or school, if students didn’t donate supplies and the school didn’t have the quantity the teacher needed, the teacher has to go out and purchase supplies. And believe me, teachers still do purchase their own supplies for their own classrooms (just ask any teacher and they’ll happily share what they bought and the costs!). The supply suggestions help out the teacher and the students in the end.

  4. Interesting. As a teacher at a private parochial school, we didn’t have a budget for those supplies. What the parents provided was what we used – so for us, they really weren’t suggestions but necessities. That said, I always tried to be conscious of parent costs and keep the list as simple as possible. Oh, and to one of the above comments. Yes, glue is glue, but Crayola crayons really do work better than all the rest! 🙂
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