Shady Ass School Supply Lists

The other day, the girls and I encountered the first of the back-to-school supply displays. Sassy said she wondered when she’d get her list. I said “Middle school is different, you won’t get a list. We’ll send you with the basics and if your teachers ask for anything specific, just let us know.”

I was so wrong.

On Sunday, we got one of those fabulous automated calls of which I’m so incredibly fond. Sassy’s middle school principal had a seven-point audio presentation for us, and one of those seven points was the supply list. The supply list. I fuckin hate the supply list.

Contributing factors:

1. Money.

2. Unexpected Socialism. After spending an hour in the school supply aisles, letting our kids pick out Hello Kitty pencils, orange scissors, and notebooks with ponies on them, they took them to school where they were amassed and then dispersed. My kids didn’t get to use the items they picked out. While this doesn’t bother me on principle, I would have preferred to know, see number one.

3. The sheer insanity of the demands, from the amount to the brand name. Here are some examples of things we’ve been told to buy: Six comp books, 2 packets of college-ruled loose leaf paper, 2 packets of Expo dry erase markers, 2 dry erasers, 3 packages 10-count Ticonderoga pencils, 3 highlighters, one package 2-count Bounty paper towels, 16oz bottle of hand sanitizer, Lysol disinfectant wipes, one box 50-count Ziploc freezer bags, 5 plastic pocket folders with 3-hole centers — red, blue, green, yellow, orange. One teacher’s list included a ream of paper. PER CHILD. Those are all PER CHILD.

The lists grow longer and longer each year. The headlines should not read “School Supply List” so much as they should read “Teacher’s Wet Dream.” Don’t misunderstand me, as a former teacher I’m aware that classrooms are more effectively managed when everything is as organized as it can be, and color-coding helps. The average teacher spends more than $500 a year on classroom supplies from her own pocket and I don’t think they get paid enough in the first damn place, but maybe SOMEONE is a little out-of-touch with the economic demands of families?

Our kids can’t even take all the stuff on the bus. I had to drive the kids to school and walk Sissy’s items in. Bubba could barely carry his. Literally, pre-K Moo could not carry her backpack and three bags of supplies. With only the actual paper and crayons and stuff in her backpack, she walked with a stoop as though she was trekking up a mountainside.

trapperkeeperjpg

I’m not about to send my kids to school without pencils and paper and folders.
I’m a snotty person with snotty kids, so I’m one of the moms who sends in Kleenex all year.
I have great affection for Bounty paper towels. I am seriously dependent. But asking for sixty rolls of them…
And what the fuck are you going to do with 1500 gallon Ziploc bags?!?!?

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Over the last decade, I’ve grown suspicious of the school supply list. I like to go to Meet-the-Teacher night with the list on my clipboard and my red pen and ask the teachers directly, “Now, this list is obviously contrived, what does Sissy actually need?” or “Where the hell am I supposed to buy a Kindermat?” Oh yes, I actually say those things.
And do you know how embarrassed teachers get?
“Oh we don’t need all that, that’s just what the township requests,” or “She doesn’t need a Kindermat, we just rest at our desks. Saves time and cuts down on lice.”

Kindergarten Supply List
It changes strangely, too. One-inch binders! No! Three-inch binders! No! Two-inch binders! No! One-and-a-half! Why can’t it ever just be a binder?

I’ve said to the children, “I have surely bought you five rulers by now. Go find one.”

I purchased two recorders for four kids. No, I’m sorry, not everyone will have a recorder in one’s childhood keepsake boxes, oh how sad.

I’ve also hoarded the unused school supplies that come home at the end of the year. “You need six comp books? Well, I happen to have eight of them from when they said Bubba and Sissy needed six but they really didn’t.”

One year, the scissors were kept in the classroom. Forever.

Sassy has had highlighters on her list for the last 4 years. She tells me she has never used a highlighter. Moo says, “I do! I use the highlighters to color!” Oh but Moo, you’re supposed to use the 24 Crayola crayons to color, or is it the 12 Crayola colored pencils, or maybe the 10 Crayola Washable markers? Exactly how much coloring goes on in the fifth grade?!?

I am getting old, but I’m not really old yet. I know this because of many things, not the least of which is that I remember the seventh grade quite well, and in the seventh grade, I went to school with notebooks and pens, the likes of which I used mostly to compose notes to pass to friends.

I can tell you a lot about seventh grade. Who my teachers were (Mrs. Olvey told me I would never be an electrician) where I sat (I was a front-row kinda kid) where my best friends sat (they were back-row kinda kids) and where my locker was. I remember that ice cream sandwiches in the lunchroom were 35 cents, my hair was in style without touching it, that I found dried cumin, boy body odor, and sharpened pencils smell very much the same. And in seventh grade English, the red-headed boy in front of me asked me for paper every damn day, because apparently his mother had gone to school with slate and chalk.

We did not have a school supply list.

A lot has changed in the last thirty years, but I’m pretty sure my kid can still make it through the seventh grade without 40 ounces of hand sanitizer, how bout you?

About joey

Neurotic Bitch, Mother, Wife, Writer, Word Whore, Foodie and General Go-To-Girl
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63 Responses to Shady Ass School Supply Lists

  1. garym6059 says:

    I am in mucho agreement with you on this. My daughter’s “current” school has a wonky list of “non educational” things that are requested. I don’t think my seven year old is quite at the age of packing leftovers so I will never understand why they need a Sam’s Club/Costco assortment of zip locs!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ellen Hawley says:

    A ream of paper per kid? Sounds like tightened budgets mean they’re offloading the schools’ supply lists onto the kids. I know you’re right about teachers spending their own money on supplies (and it’s insane that they need to do that), and I’m guessing the schools are getting desperate, but this is completely crazy. We cut taxes (especially for those who can most easily afford them) and offload society’s expenses onto, in this case, parents, many of whom can’t afford to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joey says:

      That’s exactly my thought. (Especially since I’ve yet to meet a teacher who actually asked for all of that.) They’re surely transferring the costs to the families.
      Moo told me that only four kids brought the ream of paper last year, and they still had paper leftover at the end of the year — can you imagine if the other 24 kids had brought reams of paper as well?
      To me, it isn’t as much about affordability, although I’ve always found August to be an expensive month, but the principle of having all these items demanded from us. As if we should see the merits of this list. Insane.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Benson says:

    Egads. That is a lot of stuff. When I was a kid all we needed was one wax tablet and a blunt stylus.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Dan Antion says:

    We had a minimal list that was required per kid – your kid has to have 3 pencils. We also were given a list of supplies the school would like to be donated, if you were so inclined. Om that list was Pencils for the kids that don’t have them and copy paper. I think this made more sense. Shopping for school supplies was something we enjoyed.

    Liked by 2 people

    • joey says:

      That optional donation list sounds like a winner, and I’ve only seen those online.
      Part of the reason this bothers me is because at least in this township, I know they know how rough economics are for half the district. There are a lot of charitable options and pricing differences based on income, so I know they know.
      I love taking my kids to buy supplies, but not like this. Not even a little bit.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The whole “unexpected socialism” of elementary classrooms surprised me as a parent. I do not mind buying my kids their school supplies. I do mind buying supplies for other kids. It does not seem right to me that the things I buy go into a “pool” for the whole class. It takes fun out of making these purchases, knowing my kids won’t even get to hang on to them. I totally agree with your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. hollie says:

    We got Owen’s this weekend to the tune of $100. It wasn’t as bad as last year and I don’t mind sending a box of Kleenex and a box of Clorox wipes. Last year there were reams of paper and baggies and I’ll be damned if I never saw anything come home in a Baggie all year. My friend is enrolling her kids this week in the town I work in and on top of the enormous enrollment fee they are charging $145 in activity fees. They can’t participate in posts in grade six in that town so wtf kind of activities is this kid doing for that kind of money? We pay $55 for enrollment and that includes everything. That reminds me, I need to find out when enrollment is this year.

    Liked by 2 people

    • joey says:

      We don’t pay enrollment fees, just book rental. Usually about $90-150 a kid.
      What do the activity fees cover? Here you pay directly for whatever the kid does — cheer, choir, orchestra, soccer…
      What on earth do they do with the baggies, Hollie? I can remember Moo bringing home easy readers in a baggie, but the same baggie for a really long time….When I taught kindergarten, each kid had a baggie with spare clothes for accidents…I just dunno what they do with them, not so many of them.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. For a second there I thought I was reading a work of fiction as this is all completely foreign to me. Bizarre…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. DanicaPiche says:

    This is crazy and shouldn’t be allowed. It’s a financial strain for a lot of families and for some it’s a genuine hardship causing untold amounts of stress. Some parents struggle to get adequate groceries much less a bunch of school supplies that won’t even be used. Maybe a better system is quarterly lists…start with the basics and replenish and revise as-needed. I hope your kids managed to reclaim the Hello Kitty scissors! They must be awesome :).

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am so ‘mature’ that I remember not having a list when I went to school. We took the common sense items with us and moved along. When my daughter was in school, she had lists but not near as long as yours. I guess they’re preparing for lock down and all natural disasters.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have never heard anything like this before! I can understand that the kids will need basics, pens and pencils etc, but why so many different types of crayon?
    We don’t send stuff in such as tissues, Bounty kitchen roll or hand sanitizer! We don’t send in stuff that has to be shared with the whole class either! Our kids are actually very lucky over here it seems! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. NotAPunkRocker says:

    I still have a bunch of binders from M’s school days if y’all want them!

    I would save up my pennies and shop when they started sending the list home on the last day of school for the previous year; worth it to pay more in June than fight crowds in August…just to have the list change in September on day 1.

    My favorite was the year all 26 kids were asked to bring in 2 bottles of antibacterial handsoap each. We labeled ours, because I was in a passive aggressive mood at the time, and I got BOTH of mine back in June. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Sherry says:

    gosh, the things I’m missing….lol…happy shopping Joey….I am thinkin’ of ya…

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Insanity. And how strange it is that by the time you get into university you require none of that stuff. In fact, all you really need is a decent level of reading comprehension.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joey says:

      I KNOW! I included that in my rant to The Mister! Isn’t life about learning to be prepared? Like, oh it’s nice you wore this suave suit to the interview, but wouldn’t it be clever to be QUALIFIED? JFC, I could go on for days!

      Liked by 1 person

      • There was a bit of a stink up here in Alberta because elementary school students were having to each have their own iPad or tablet. Parents understandably shit a brick. You have two or three little ones this could cost a small fortune.

        Liked by 1 person

        • joey says:

          Yeah. We have that here, as well. Generally, they’re rented, but there’ve been terrible debacles with that as well, and I do believe now our school district passes them out but they stay at school, in the same way that reference books never leave the library. Although, there is some talk of Chromebooks now. In a month’s time, I’ll know fersure 😉

          Liked by 1 person

  14. Jewels says:

    I miss this…

    Like

    • joey says:

      LOL I cannot imagine!
      Still, Jewels, I’m sure your daughter would enjoy some new crayons or markers…and who doesn’t love a shiny new binder full of empty pages?
      Also, you can totally buy a pile of crap and donate it to local schools, you know, if you wanna feel included 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jewels says:

        Haha! I may just do that! 😉
        I guess it’s more that I just miss being a part of the start of a new school year ~ I miss having a school-aged kid and I also miss working at a school, I gets all nostalgic-like n stuff.
        Good luck with those shady ass school supplies. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Anxious Mom says:

    I so LOL’d at the “unexpected socialism” part. I agree, it would have been nice to know all of the stuff was going in a pot for all the kids, but OMG the reactions from other parents about this after they found out. “My taxes already pay for THOSE KIDS to even be in school, and I have to buy them pencils?!…OBAMA.”

    Liked by 1 person

  16. markbialczak says:

    I would stick a pencil in my pocket and lose it WALKING to freaking school until we moved before I went into the eight grade, and then I’d stick a pen in my pocket and lose it on the bus. My mother would make me my text book covers out of the paper from used supermarket shopping bags and I was happy with those because I could borrow a pencil or pen from the kid next to me and write down the homework assignment right on the cover of the damn book I needed to take home and read it in.

    My 25-year-old daughter was happy with the supplies we bought her in the beggining of each school year, run-of-the-mill notebooks and pens and markers and stuff that she used by her lonesome. No baggies or Kleenex or wipes or sterilizing liquids. If she was sneezy she brought a box in that day. If she was eating carrots they were in a baggie. If she needed to bring home a science project, she brought in a baggie. Day by day by God.

    I tell you, Joey, this amassing crap in a public school would have me amassing my foot right around some superintendent’s No. 2 Ticonderoga pocket. If everybody has the same list WHY make a big pile and pass the items back out so nobody gets what they picked out? WTF is up with that, principal Stalin?

    Oh, you got me going good tonight, my friend. I am so glad I am done with this phase. Good luck, Joey, with the new school year. Love your kids hard because the administration hierarchy sucks eggs.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Josh Wrenn says:

    Scam! I mean, I get schools are underfunded, but these supply demands are outrageous, and sound like the “township” has an arrangement to drive business to certain corporations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joey says:

      It seems that way, doesn’t it? Of course, one can’t help but notice the choices are the most popular and most expensive choices.
      Seriously, the pencil thing kills me. They cost three times more than other pencils.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Josh Wrenn says:

        Yeah, I mean, especially when you can get just as good of products from a store brand with integrity (like Costco’s Kirkland brand). And the amounts are ridiculous. Obviously to make up for those who can’t provide their own, but why not just charge taxes or fees and be CLEAR about it?

        Liked by 2 people

        • joey says:

          Why can’t government put actual cash value on education? I live in a high-tax area. It’s a bit confusing. Like so many other places, the haves have plenty and the have-nots have not much, and would probably appreciate some Bounty paper towels and Ziploc bags at home, ffs.

          Liked by 1 person

  18. Luanne says:

    Oh, well said. It’s goodnight insane!

    Like

  19. Sammy D. says:

    A prime example of no one being rewarded fir doing it differently so no one ever asks, “why are we continuing this way and what would work better?” I am appalled at the supplies and materials my grandkids buy – first of all, why all those folders?? Wouldn’t a binder clip suffice? Second – never mind. I’m stopping now … It fluffs my feathers to no end!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. reocochran says:

    I was both a sixth grade (middle school) language arts teacher and preschool special ed teacher. The first period of teaching was in the 80’s and the required items were chose by the teacher. I liked each child to have a 3 ring binder, being new and all I wanted 5 sections (we only used 3 of them so they could “journal” or doodle in the others. I bought lots of wide ruled paper for 10 cents end if school year when I was subbing, Joey. I asked for then to bring 4 pens and 4 pencils. That was it!!:) we never had any problems those few years sending kids to restroom to clean up.
    In the 90’s I had a longterm sub position. When I finished up my nearly 9 years of babysitting I was ecstatic to have a cart to roll around the second floor of the middle school. Bigger town and now lists handed out for supplies. The paper was provided, text book costs=$45 even this time period. I had 2 in middle school and one in elementary as a single Mom/teacher. Youngest cost was only $30.
    In preschool we asked for donations and kids who were special needs had paid tuition by election levy for MRDD. The students who were typically developing brought all kinds of goodies, along with grateful volunteer parents. I was overwhelmed each year at these generous people. We had all the tissue and hand sanitizer along with wipes and paper towels. I write hand written notes to every home no matter if it were one pack of crayons or a garbage bag full of cool stuff. Xo Thanks for this walk down memory lane, Joey!

    Like

  21. So agree! Our Middle School isn’t as bad as the elementary was. I did find lots of uses for leftover composition books for me. 🙂 My kids have to have a binder and everything goes in it. Well, first year, the binder broke from everything, so I bought the zipped binder and it worked better. They did not complain at least. Now, the school has purchased tablets for each student to take care of. While I like technology I see no reason for each one to have one. They don’t even do homework on it because usually they need to connect to the school server for stuff. The protective sleeve does not fit well, so I was mending it many times. We ended up with most of the paper not used but yet I see it on the list again. LOL…why. Everything is electronic. Definitely, do not need two packages. 🙂 I still think kids need to learn more by paper and pencil than electronic. Basics. That is me. Yes, I reuse if it is not all torn up. Boys you know are not too tidy. 🙂 Good luck with your school year. Less than a month for us to begin. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • joey says:

      I’m glad you agree!
      Yes, I think they’re having Chromebooks in middle school. Not sure about all the details yet.
      Less than two weeks until my wee ones go back.
      Good point on the zipped binder.
      Moo’s class list says it’s all community supply, but most of Sassy’s is personal, not communal.
      Yeah, the paper thing…28 reams of paper, hahahaha! Whatever, Township! 😛 Gah, they should stop with the newsletters! lol — just email me ONCE. ONCE. Not once for each kid!

      Liked by 1 person

      • No kidding. We get mostly emails. I actually found a zipped binder that has the tablet holder on the front. I am not sure the binder part is going to be big enough though. Guess we will find out. It wouldn’t be so bad but our school makes them put all their supplies in the binder so the pencil bag is like huge and makes it bend. Crazy.

        Liked by 1 person

        • joey says:

          That is absurd. Especially, no offense, for boys! Good mercy! lol
          My son is in the internship bit, last of university, but I remember. Oh I remember. 😉

          Liked by 1 person

  22. Oh. My. GAWD. This is HARRIBLE! And #2… they actually DO THAT?! SCHOOLS ACTUALLY DO THAT?! I know I’m a teacher, but this is just asinine. I’m totally on your side. Good grief…

    Liked by 1 person

    • joey says:

      Yes, Ma’am. I have the current lists and they’re no less than $100 a kid.
      I’ll buy about $75 a kid. I’ll skip the brand names and they can forget gettin a ream of paper from us.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Veronica says:

    My oldest’s middle school has a supplies kit that you can order through the school. Everything is ordered and packaged nicely for you. All you do is pick it up when it’s ready a week before school starts. We don’t have to do any shopping and every kid gets the same generic supplies. Not too bad. Saves us time and money shopping around for all the ridiculous things. But I agree… it’s crazy!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I love writers who can temper anger with humor. I wonder why I think I remember that the school I attended had most of the items on that list as a matter of course–in New York, I mean. The one I attended in Charleston didn’t even have teachers…

    Liked by 1 person

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  26. jdawgswords says:

    they got kits here specific to grade and school…and in Louisiana we had to buy classroom supplies…up till high school…no more lists now (only one left too)…oh, btw, these are kids of my best friend which I claim…I digress…the TV stations all sponsor drives too…ready for this? I did a lot of dumpster diving in Amarillo…amazing how much of that stuff gets thrown out in early june!!! and how the dumpster get locked fairly quick too…the US wastes more resources than most every country…

    Liked by 2 people

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