It's that time of year again. Bright eyed children are waking up, putting on their best first day of school outfits, and hopping on the bus to get their education. Now is also the time where parents post their complaints about back to school shopping, or to be more specific, the supplies they have to buy. Most public schools will provide a list of supplies they expect a student to enter the classroom with. I understand how some of those things may seem tedious, like a specific grade of product, but in the end there's a reason it's necessary for you as a parent to provide what's on that list.
To begin, I'd like to ask who you believe buys the supplies for your child if they don't come to class with what they need. Most would say it's the school itself that pays, right? Wrong. Most schools will buy a small amount of classroom supplies, if any, to provide their employed teachers. However, they often have a set limit on how much they'll give each teacher. I remember in freshman year having to copy answers from a worksheet into my own notebooks, most of those worksheets having an unrelated subject on the other side, because my teacher was only permitted one package of printer paper per school year on the school's dime. The rest he had to pay out of pocket so that his students had the ability to work. According to a Federal Department of Education survey posted in the New York Times, 94% of public school teachers in the United States reported paying for the supplies for their classrooms with no reimbursement or financial help from their schools.
Well, what's the big deal if teachers have to pay for their own supplies? It's not like they're expensive, right? The average yearly salary of a public school teacher in the united states this last school year is only around $48,814--$64,552. That seems like pretty good pay, doesn't it? But that doesn't include the cost of setting up their classrooms, getting to work each day, finding a sitter or day care during school hours if they've got children, the cost of supplies they have to buy for themselves, and the cost they have to pay for each of their students' supplies.
Most classrooms have about 30 children in them depending on the location, and many middle and high schools have seven periods per school day. If you multiply 30 children per seven classes, the teacher would be held responsible for around 210 children every week day for a full school year. A quality pack of pencils can cost around $4-$6 (cheap products just won't cut it, as they don't last nearly as long), and comes with 12 pencils. Even if each student managed to make one pencil work for a month, the teacher is out 70-105 dollars monthly, and that's only taking pencils into consideration (and how often can a child keep one pencil for a whole month? Most high school seniors can't even do that.) Then there are markers, colored pencils, notebooks, loose leaf paper, binders, and more. You can't honestly expect someone to put that much of their money earned at work back into their work, can you? That's like retail workers being forced to buy the bags out of their own checks, it just doesn't make sense.
Teachers work hard to educate your children, and during the school year they see your kids nearly as long as you do. It's unlikely that you have that many children enrolled in school to buy supplies for, so please don't put that responsibility on your child's educators. It's understandable to be upset about how much you need to spend so your child can receive a quality education, but before you post that angry status just remember how much Mrs. or Mr. Teacher will have to pay to supplies the extra necessities for your children. I believe that schools themselves should provide at least a bit more financial help for those supplies, but until that happens it's up to parents and teachers to split those costs. Just buy your kids their pencils, and why not buy a nice dollar trinket to show your appreciation to those educators who value their jobs and care for your children like their own? Best wishes for a safe and happy school year!