Who is responsible for school supplies?

Today begins the annual sales tax holiday. Families will hit the stores to purchase back-to-school clothing, computers and supplies.

Many schools and teachers mail letters or put on their Web sites the items they expect students to have. The lists include everything from specific types of notebooks and binders to requests for tissues, hand sanitizer, copy paper and other items.

Some families buy all the items. Some don’t. Often teachers use their own money to plug in the holes.

But I wonder what the school supply turnout will be like this year.

With the recession and many families facing tight budgets, I wonder how many parents will refuse to buy items they think the school should supply – like tissues or copy paper.

(Although the hand sanitizer would be pretty useful with all the worries about swine flu.)

At the same time I wonder how many teachers will stop using their own money to pay for these items. Between the furloughs, no raises and increased health care costs, money is tight for educators.

What supplies are you planning to buy? Is the economy forcing you to reconsider what you’re willing to contribute?

STORY HELP: A co-worker is writing a back-to-school story looking at who is volunteering in schools. If your PTA or school has an interesting group — whether it be all fathers or all grandparents or employees from a local company — we want to hear from you. Send a note to gstaples@ajc.com if you’d like to participate.

178 comments Add your comment

Gwinnett Educator

July 30th, 2009
8:57 am

I can tell you right now, I know of MANY teachers who will not be purchasing supplies for their classroom this year. We have all agreed that some parents will truly be in shock when they see the lack of materials in their child’s classroom. Maybe some parents will see just how much we come out of the pocket.

I slacked up last year on the materials. I am a single mom and my child comes first. I will make sure her needs are provided for before another child’s. This year, I am not purchasing anything. I simply cannot. I have medical bills that need to be paid for from a surgery earlier this year. (It may sound mean, but it is reality). I have colleagues whose spouses have been laid off, many are expecting, and life has just not been a cake walk.

To answer the question, it is the parents’ responsibility to make sure that their child(ren) have the necessary materials for school. During my 13 yrs in the classroom, this one scenario NEVER fails. Children will come to school with 2 pencils, a pack of crayons, and maybe 2 notebooks..and this is supposed to last the entire school year. I have also grown weary of seeing the materials that I have purchased with my own money be destroyed without much thought.

I am backing off of my rant now. This is obviously a sore spot for me as I have noticed that this “mindset” has grown during my entire career. I have ALWAYS appreciated the parents that do send their children to school prepared, especially those that have fallen on hard times. I had several last year speak with me personally about their situation and asked if it were ok if they didn’t purchase everything on the list. I thanked them and then showed which items that were not “necessary” (copy paper, etc) I wish EVERYONE the best at the start of this upcoming school year.

Ernest

July 30th, 2009
9:05 am

I plan to contribute what I can. I have already purchase hand sanitizer for my children’s classrooms and will probably donate Kleenex also. I rationalize that I want those things in the classroom in case my child needs them over the course of the year. We shouldn’t rely on teachers to spend their money on items like this.

The ‘basics’ I expect the school to supply include bathroom items like toilet tissue, soap, and paper towels. Outside of that, I believe parents/community should do ‘what they can’ to help with other supplies such as supplies for the nurse.

William Casey

July 30th, 2009
9:12 am

Any teacher using his/her own money to buy school supplies is not very smart. I’m retired now so I have no dog in this fight. However, I know for sure that I wasn’t put on earth to be a slave to other people’s children. I was put on earth to be a compensated and skilled provider of educational services. I did that for 31 years and am proud. End of story.

Gwinnett Educator

July 30th, 2009
9:16 am

oh well, that comment was lost and I’m not retyping. (unless it is taking a long time to show up)

In a few words..NO, I will not be purchasing anything this year.

Gwinnett Educator

July 30th, 2009
9:16 am

Ooops..and NO it is not because I want to be mean, but my home life and the needs of my own comes first.

verdi73

July 30th, 2009
9:32 am

We our both teachers and have a child, and were amazed at the two page supply list. We can’t afford all of what they are wanting so we will buy a little at a time as our new budget allows us because of furlough and increase premiums in dental, health, and teacher retirement this summer.

mift

July 30th, 2009
9:32 am

I think supplies will be scarce this year. Teacher have the make the supplies “optional” but really have no choice. I am so tired of folks complaining about taxes and public school funding and then turning around and complaining again that they need to pitch in to buy tissues. This whole thing is exhausting. Parents- do what you can to make this the best year possible for your child in that class- take some responsibility!

over it

July 30th, 2009
10:07 am

I won’t be buying. Usually by now I’ve spent all kinds of money on my kindergarten class. Not this year. We will be creative and make do with what we have.

Grown A$$ Teacher

July 30th, 2009
10:38 am

Parents send your little monsters to school with at least paper, pen, pencil and a good attitude. Thanks to the furloughs I’m not spending ANY of my money. WHATSOEVER.

Way Down South

July 30th, 2009
10:41 am

This one won’t be showing up with bags of stuff this year. Most of the kids can get their own and the ones who don’t are usually carrying more cash than I am to hell with it.

Bev

July 30th, 2009
10:41 am

Another thing. I can’t provide snacks for the students anymore. Please send your children to school with their own snack..I can’t teach them when they’re hungry and begging me for food.

Decaturparent

July 30th, 2009
10:46 am

You know, I think that my kid’s elementary school has come up with a best case scenario for this issue, and it would be great to see it implemented at other schools that have an active PTA. Our PTA buys supplies for all students wholesale/bulk. These supplies include those for each individual child (pens, pencils, notebooks) and for the class (hand sanitizer, tissues, dry erase markers, etc.). All I have to do is write a check to the PTA for $35, and I am done. I used to spend close to $100 on school supplies per kid. This has been a huge saving to me.

Not all parents end up paying for their kids’ supplies, but it still all works out fine since the vast majority are happy to cut a check and greatly shorten their annual trip to Target. It also protects the teachers from having to spend their own money on these supplies.

I know that some parents on this board will think that this practice takes the individuality out of the school experience. I initially felt that way, but found that when it comes down to it, my kids are perfectly happy to express their individuality with their lunchbox/backpack/clothing choices.

mom of 3

July 30th, 2009
10:53 am

I do not understand why schools don’t just ask for a one time upfront fee of say $15-$20 for your student for the entire school year. The shool can purchase the basic & necessary supplies (pencils,pens, crayons, paper, tisues, glue, markers…..) in BULK at a much cheaper price. If the teacher would like specialty items (specific brands/types of notebooks, ruled paper, ink pens) then the teacher can pay for it. And I have no problem with parents making “donations” to their childs classroom for colored paper, craft stuff, etc, as long as request does not come as “required items”. I sent 3 kids through public school, and I have seen a lot of stupid requests from teachers. I am suprised I was not asked to supply toilet paper. (maybe I was and chose to forget) The basics people, kids only need the basics.

Old School

July 30th, 2009
10:55 am

Our community had a school supply giveaway last Saturday and my small church was asked to donate. Well, we do have an ongoing project of collecting school supplies but we wait until later in the school year (usually after January) and randomly select a school to send the supplies to. The big difference is what we collect because we contact the school to find out what is needed for a classroom- hand sanitizer, bulk pencils, reams of paper, dry erase markers, or other items the teachers need. I did find it entertaining to note how many families needed those big SUVs to haul a plastic bag of supplies home.

I’ll be limiting the number of drawing my CAD students print out and we’ll be using the marker board to work out ideas and solutions instead of the sketch paper. There won’t be any college signing posters printed out either. Ink cartridges are just too expensive.

Bitter much?

July 30th, 2009
11:08 am

The attitudes of some of the teachers on this thread is why I’ll be sending my little one to private school. If you don’t like your job, find another one.

high school teacher

July 30th, 2009
11:12 am

“Parents send your little monsters to school with at least paper, pen, pencil and a good attitude. Thanks to the furloughs I’m not spending ANY of my money. WHATSOEVER”.

The remarks of teachers on this blog do not necessarily reflecct the sentiments of all teahcers.

I’m off to the store to buy school supplies for my boys and for my classroom as well. I really don’t mind spending $2.50 a month to keep my classroom supplied with hand sanitizer, nor do I mind sending in a box of tissues for my children.

Teacher&mom

July 30th, 2009
11:16 am

No, I will not be purchasing supplies for my students. In my school system, teachers are expected to purchase their own supplies…i.e. paperclips, dry-erase markers, staples, paper, etc. I simply don’t have the extra $$$ to spend this year. Instead, that money is going into savings to prepare for more furlough days. The state board of educ. does not approve an additional 7 more furlough days on a whim. They know further cuts are headed down the pike.

In the past, I would use my “Sonny $” to purchase lab supplies then I would supplement the added expenses out of my own pocket. I will not be purchasing any supplies this year. My principal has already told us that no purchase orders will be approved any time soon. Therefore, my labs will be cut to the bone this year.

I’m sure that I’m the only one who cares that my science classes will have fewer labs. Kathy Cox and Sonny Perdue don’t give a rip. As long as the test scores are favorable, they’ll continue to convince themselves they are making a positive difference in GA.

My own kids will go to school with the basic supplies needed to learn…paper, pencils, notebooks, etc. I will not be sending them with hand sanitizer or kleenex. Laura mentioned that the lack of hand sanitizer may be a concern due to H1D1, I suspect schools will be closed in an instant if the virus takes hold next fall. Actually, Sonny will probably see it as the perfect opportunity to save a few bucks. Anyone remember the school closings following Hurricane Katrina?

abacus2

July 30th, 2009
11:16 am

I’m a science teacher and usually spend $1000 to $1200 on supplies each year. I’ll only be able to afford $300 this year, at most. Last year I passed out over 700 pencils to those who “couldn’t find” and “somebody stole”. I had 7 parents send in a box of tissue. That was gone by early September. It always amazes me that most of the supplies are used by the children whose parents send them with NOTHING – they expect the school (as in me)to have the needed supplies. These are not the kids from poor families, it’s the kids who always have money for ice cream that never have supplies. I guess Momma would rather put gas in her Escalade than make sure her kids are supplied for school. By the way, Escalade Momma tried to apply for free/reduced luch for her kids!

WARNING: They Are Watching.

July 30th, 2009
11:19 am

WARNING: They Are Watching.

Do NOT blog in your classroom — not even on your lap top. They are on to you. Seriously, you will be caught. Don’t say that we did not warn you. Your lap top CAN be confiscated for investigation. DON’t. I repeat. DON’T blog in your classroom no matter what the students are doing. Do you hear this…jim d, Art Teacher, d, tc, gw.teacher, catlady, Science Teacher 671, and all of the 200 or 300 “cousins” (same personality under different monikers)? Don’t let your blogging bring you down. Being a blogaholic is not unlike any other addiction. First, attend meetings…”Hi, one of my names is ‘jim d,’ and I am a blogaholic.”

Turd Ferguson

July 30th, 2009
11:20 am

PARENTS as bad, sorry, lazy, stupid as most of them are, ARE RESPONSIBLE for their OWN KIDS supplies. I will not be sending anything for the other brats to mooch. If your kid is without paper, markers, pens etc tough nuggies, he/she should fail his classes.

mom of 3

July 30th, 2009
11:22 am

Because I am not a teacher, you don’t post my comment?

abacus2

July 30th, 2009
11:22 am

Bitter much – Why do you think it’s a “bad attitude” to be honest and say we can’t afford to buy for our classrooms this year. I’ve taken a 4.5% pay cut, 3 furlough days (so far), and health insurance has gone up. When my bills are paid there will be very little left over. It’s a shame you think that teaching requires a person to bleed ’til nothing’s left. Trust me, there’s nothing left to bleed. I never ask for anything extra from the parents, but I do expect them to send their child with paper and pencil!

Bloggers Anonymous (BA) Meeting in DeKalb. Can Sarah Cope-lin Wood explain to us...

July 30th, 2009
11:32 am

The Blogges Anonymous (BA) Meeting will be held at the Connie Slyvestor Glanton Recreation Center. We will meet in the back conference room at the Sly Center on August 9th at 6:00 P.M. Topic: “Has the inaction of the DeKalb County Board of Education vis-a-vis the lack of student decorum and discipline in the schools driven teachers to inordinate blogging to cope with the attending stress?” We hope that Sarah Cope-lin Wood and Zepora Roberts can explain why the school board has not gotten rid of that clown that it has for a superintendent, Crawford Lewis.

Homer

July 30th, 2009
11:32 am

Teachers I commend your stance!! Let the stupid parents of these impolite stupid little street urchins supply said urchins with paper, pens etc.

Gwinnett Educator

July 30th, 2009
11:36 am

My original comment was lost. In essence, I responded saying that there are many teacher friends that will not be purchasing supplies this year. Many are expecting, some have spouses that were laid off months ago and are still seeking employment, others are tightening the belt as they have their own school aged children to buy supplies for.

I happen to be a single mom (I’m not looking for sympathy or whatever) and I have to provide for my daughter. I do that every day by myself. Her needs comes before my own and I refuse to send her off unprepared just so another person (teacher or parent) provides for her. She will ALWAYS have what she needs for school before I go and spend what little money is left over to supply for others.

In the past, I have had parents come to me and tell me that they couldn’t get everything on the list. That is perfectly fine to me and I appreciate it. I let them know which items are truly not necessary TO ME (copy paper, dry erase markers, etc). I appreciate all parents that do what they can. They are suffering too. However, I have grown weary over the past 13 yrs of those that send their children to school with the mentality that someone else will have enough to share with them. Times are hard and if teachers are really suffering, I honestly believe that many are in for a wake up call. So many resources that have been purchased with our own money will not be there and people will take note.

Grown A$$ Teacher

July 30th, 2009
11:37 am

high school teacher

whoopdey friggin do. I’m glad you can afford to buy stuff. I can’t. My 2 children in college and 1 senior in school come first. Oh and btw your views don’t reflect all the teachers on here either.

Gwinnett Educator

July 30th, 2009
11:37 am

(I apologize if the first post shows up)
My original comment was lost. In essence, I responded saying that there are many teacher friends that will not be purchasing supplies this year. Many are expecting, some have spouses that were laid off months ago and are still seeking employment, others are tightening the belt as they have their own school aged children to buy supplies for.

I happen to be a single mom (I’m not looking for sympathy or whatever) and I have to provide for my daughter. I do that every day by myself. Her needs comes before my own and I refuse to send her off unprepared just so another person (teacher or parent) provides for her. She will ALWAYS have what she needs for school before I go and spend what little money is left over to supply for others.

In the past, I have had parents come to me and tell me that they couldn’t get everything on the list. That is perfectly fine to me and I appreciate it. I let them know which items are truly not necessary TO ME (copy paper, dry erase markers, etc). I appreciate all parents that do what they can. They are suffering too. However, I have grown weary over the past 13 yrs of those that send their children to school with the mentality that someone else will have enough to share with them. Times are hard and if teachers are really suffering, I honestly believe that many are in for a wake up call. So many resources that have been purchased with our own money will not be there and people will take note.

Gwinnett Educator

July 30th, 2009
11:39 am

Teacher&mom

July 30th, 2009
11:40 am

Bitter much – I usually don’t respond to comments such as “I’m sending my little one to private school and if you don’t like your job work somewhere else.” However, today I am responding.

I absolutely LOVE teaching and I’m a good teacher. For the most part I am surrounded by good teachers who are dedicated and professional. This “attitude” you are talking about is not present in my school.

However, I wonder what the “attitude” of your private school would be if you were 2-3 months behind in your tuition? Somehow I find it hard to believe they would be very positive and affirming. I suspect they may tell you that if you don’t like their fees, then find another school.

And if your little one happened to land in my classroom, I can assure you he/she would be respected and receive a quality education.

Gwinnett Educator

July 30th, 2009
11:40 am

(3rd and FINAL time..apologies in advance..the testing post showed right up but this one seems to get lost just like my earlier comment that never made it)

My original comment was lost. In essence, I responded saying that there are many teacher friends that will not be purchasing supplies this year. Many are expecting, some have spouses that were laid off months ago and are still seeking employment, others are tightening the belt as they have their own school aged children to buy supplies for.

I happen to be a single mom (I’m not looking for sympathy or whatever) and I have to provide for my daughter. I do that every day by myself. Her needs comes before my own and I refuse to send her off unprepared just so another person (teacher or parent) provides for her. She will ALWAYS have what she needs for school before I go and spend what little money is left over to supply for others.

In the past, I have had parents come to me and tell me that they couldn’t get everything on the list. That is perfectly fine to me and I appreciate it. I let them know which items are truly not necessary TO ME (copy paper, dry erase markers, etc). I appreciate all parents that do what they can. They are suffering too. However, I have grown weary over the past 13 yrs of those that send their children to school with the mentality that someone else will have enough to share with them. Times are hard and if teachers are really suffering, I honestly believe that many are in for a wake up call. So many resources that have been purchased with our own money will not be there and people will take note.

Sad state of affairs

July 30th, 2009
11:40 am

As a parent, I’m buying my kids’ school supplies. I want my children to have what they need to succeed.

As an educator, I’m buying some things for my students. It’s not their fault that we have an incompetent governor, and a county school superintendent that thinks education is a business and students are customers. Sorry, I just threw up in my mouth.

As for the “bitter much” poster above: I’m glad you are in a position to send your child to private school, but rubbing your affluence an grade-school advice “find another job” in the face of others is just rude. I wish your child’s teachers all the luck in dealing with you. I’m sure they will need it.

Blogaholic

July 30th, 2009
11:40 am

True blogaholics aren’t worried. We use our personal blackberries instead of school-supplied computers & ISPs.

Way Down South

July 30th, 2009
12:07 pm

Bye, Bitter.

Bev

July 30th, 2009
12:16 pm

Bitter much- I’m absolutely freaking glad your child won’t set foot in my public school. It’s easy to sit back and criticize teachers for venting on this blog. It’s obvious you don’t have to worry about money like the rest of us. Why don’t you start a private school blog and leave the rest of us alone. Don’t criticize me when you obviously have no idea what it means to be a teacher. My teaching contract says I will teach. It doesn’t say a word about spending my own money, but I have done it for years. I can’t do it anymore!

Gwinnett Educator

July 30th, 2009
12:26 pm

UGH…My APOLOGIES for that post showing up 3 times. The one day that I take a chance on reposting..it shows up. I AM SORRY YOU ALL!!!

Bitter much?

July 30th, 2009
12:32 pm

I was mainly referring to the post referring to the students as “monsters.” Why would I want to subject my child to a teacher, such as this person, when it appears they hate their job and would most likely make life miserable for her.

I have no doubt that there are dedicated teaching professionals teaching in public schools, I have 2 in my family. However, they both recommend that I send my child to private school. I will heed their advice.

The responsible teacher

July 30th, 2009
12:39 pm

Because the teacher is fully responsible for the child’s performance, any supplies not provided by the parent must be provided by the teacher. Regardless of what ever else the parent chooses to spend money on, be it an new cell phone for their child to start the new school year, several hundred dollars worth of clothes, what ever the case may be, the teacher is responsible, not the parent.

The voice teachers have chosen to speak for them, GAE, brags about the several hundred dollars a year teachers spend out of their own pockets. To the best of my knowledge, they’ve never taken a position against this, or argued philosophically that the providing of such materials to that extent is counterproductive to the goal of students becoming self sufficient adults.

Since the voice that teachers have chosen to speak for them appears to condone the practice, and doesn’t appear to have ever condemned it, now it’s become the established practice.

Since teachers have enabled this with their own choices, rather than take any real stand, then teachers should do with school supplies the same thing Sonny Perdue, Kathy Cox, GAE and PAGE expect them to do as far as working in classrooms during furloughs.

Whine, then comply.

mocha momma

July 30th, 2009
12:40 pm

Gwinnett Educator:

No worries. The system has been pretty hinkey lately. By the way, ITA with you. My husband’s a second-year teacher at an alternative school in Gwinnett. Last year they were not allowed to ask for supplies from the students. This year, he has no choice. I am now a SAHM and we just can’t afford to fund everyone else’s kid this year. We have already bought all our son’s supplies for school and are already tallying up the cost for next year as he goes to middle school. The financial picture seems to seem bleaker instead of brighter.

Bitter much?

July 30th, 2009
12:42 pm

One doesn’t have to be affluent to send their children to private school. They just have to be willing to make sacrifices and stick to a strict budget.

Tcherlady

July 30th, 2009
12:42 pm

I have been teaching for 10 years and spend about 1000 a year on materials. The fact is the schools don’t have the money and neither do the teachers. It is the parents responsibility to send their kids with pencil and paper. I agree with the comment that the kids who don’t have supplies are the ones who buy the extras at lunch. I love my job and love teaching, but I can’t be a parent and provide the kids with everything they need.

Hey Blogaholic, Where is BABY today?

July 30th, 2009
12:57 pm

Was my last very delicious insightful comment googled up by the Blog Monster?

The incompetent AJC

July 30th, 2009
12:59 pm

If the AJC can recognize a comment as a duplicate then why the $%^# can’t it print the original one? Just another example of why huge numbers of people refuse to buy their print edition, and refuse to click on any ads in the online edition and sure as $%^# won’t pay for any online content if they try that.

The AJC should take over public education, because they seem to be the one outfit incompetent enough to maintain the status quo.

ScienceTeacher671

July 30th, 2009
1:05 pm

The students without supplies all seem to have cell phones, too. Go figure.

In our system, we aren’t allowed to ask for supply fees from parents, because it wouldn’t be fair to low-income parents who might not be able to afford to pay them.

Hey Blogaholic, Where is BABY today?

July 30th, 2009
1:16 pm

I see what Blogaholic means. I have written some juicey statements — quite enlightening and entertaining, but they keep getting eaten up by the Blog Monster. Agreed. Watch this one post! Ha!

Southside teacher

July 30th, 2009
1:22 pm

In the past I have stocked up on supplies for all those occasions when kids don’t have basics. This year, I just can’t. I will keep some things on hand for the true hardship cases, but the others will just have to take responsibility for their own supplies.
This will sound like bitterness, but it’s just reality. I’m tired of raising other people’s children. I can not support my household and yours too.

Responsible teaching

July 30th, 2009
1:25 pm

The teacher is fully responsible for the students supplies, and this is a direct result of the teacher’s choices.

The teachers have chosen as their voice, an organization in GAE that brags about the fact that teachers spend several hundred dollars a year in school supplies. To my knowledge that have never discouraged this practice, nor spoken to how it might work against a student in the long run as far as becoming a self sufficient adult.

Essentially, it’s become the accepted practice, because teachers have made it the accepted practice. So teachers need to do the same thing that GAE, PAGE, Sonny Perdue and Kathy Cox expect them to do when it comes to working during furlough.

Whine, then comply.

Gwinnett Educator

July 30th, 2009
1:26 pm

my GOODNESS!! If there is ever a day where the AJC has screwed up my comments, it is today! I see that my original post finally made it ..several hrs later.

Again you all, I do apologize for the multiple posts. Have a great day!

Teacher, Too

July 30th, 2009
1:50 pm

I”ve just spent $55.00 at Walmart stocking up on markers, rulers, color pencils, and such. I’m sure I’ll be at Costco or Office Depot this afternoon to get the other items I’ll need, such as tape, paper clips, dry erase markers, etc. It’s my understanding that in my county, we won’t have any supply monies available to teachers. I may be incorrect, but I’ve asked and the response has been, not at this time.

I don’t mind buying my own basic supplies for my use (and some supplies for creative applications for students), but I am not going to supply students with basic supplies, especially in middle school. Our supply list is pretty basic: pens, pencils, paper, binder, hand sanitizer, and Kleenex. I also ask that my students have a hi-liter and small sticky notes available to use. Only the hand sanitizer and Kleenex are turned in to the teacher. On any given day, at least three or more students in each class do not have pen and paper for class. I simply can not afford to supply these students every day.

Last year, only a few students turned in Kleenex. When it ran out, I got paper towels from the restroom. The kids complained, but it’s not my responsibility to provide them with tissue. I had about two or three students who used up 80% of the tissue the first two months of school (and they were not the students who brought it in). Do you think they bothered to bring in a replacement box?

Money is tight for everyone.

Where is De

July 30th, 2009
2:44 pm

Enter your comments here

high school teacher

July 30th, 2009
2:52 pm

Grown teacher, I don’t spend a lot on supplies for my classroom – just the typical pens and expo markers. I do buy the cheap pencils to keep on hand for kids who happen to forget to bring them to class, but I definitely have no problem buying supplies for my children. Of course my own children come first as well. I understand that you might not have lots of extra funding with two in college an one in the 12th grade. I do wish that you would refrain from calling children “little monsters.” Are you still in the classroom? If so, may I ask if it’s a metro or non-metro county? I want to make sure that you don’t have to endure my own “little monsters.”