I try to stay positive these days... but there is something really vexing me. I have to write about it... even just to vent a little. So be patient and kind... this doesn't happen often, but here I go!
There is something about back to school shopping that gives me serious anxiety just thinking of it! I know some people LOVE the deals, the crowds, the every-man-for-himself-fight-for-the-50-cent-crayons... But for me, I literally have a physical reaction when I think about it. Like a give-me-a-paper-sack-I-am-going-to-hyperventilate reaction. And I break out like a teenager. It's horrible. I hate it. My bank account hates it.
This is what gets me, the back to school shopping lists.
Loath is too kind of a word for my feelings about the shopping lists.
Public schools get how much from the state and federal government for each child enrolled?? According to the Census Bureau, on average (although it varies from state to state) the government pays $10,615 for each child to attend school. My question is WHERE THE HECK DOES THAT MONEY GO?!
Okay, sure you have to pay the teachers, administrators, and bus drivers. And some will go to uptake of the building and gas for the buses. But my kids have iPads in their class rooms. Pricey big screen computerized projectors. When we were in Utah, their classes had "Smart Boards" - an interactive computer instead of the old chalk or dry erase board. I walk into the classroom and I think, HOLY COW, they don't need this stuff?! And sadly, they aren't getting the quality of education I did 20+ years ago... so all the fancy shmancy stuff isn't making them any smarter. Having 2 boys with ADHD, all the electronics and stuff hanging all over the walls really affects their learning... too much stimuli by far. And I can't help but think of all the class room supplies and books they could buy for the cost of ONE of those iPads.
Back in the day, when I was growing up, crayons, pencils, markers, erasers, folders, and other basic supplies were covered and supplied by the school. We brought our own school clothes, backpacks, lunch boxes, and totally awesome TrapperKeepers. That was it. I brought my lunch mostly, but you could buy school lunch or qualify for free lunch if you were low income (those haven't changed, except the cost of buying school lunch is OUTRAGEOUS for what they are feeding them now... no thanks!)
Now we have to pay for our own school supplies. Which can range from $75 (if you are super frugal) to $200 for 2 kids attending public school. We have to cover the classroom supply of disinfectant wipes, tissue, and hand sanitizer, as well. During the year, they have stupid fund raisers sometimes twice a month. TWICE A MONTH. We have to buy the kids a dumb t-shirt they only wear once every time they go on a field trip or have some special activity. (I get this feeling of rage every time I see an order form tucked in with their homework).
The book fair. Do we really need to go there?! They have one every other month, and they brain wash our kids into believing they must torture their parents with constant nagging until we give in and send them with money. If the library is hurting for books so bad (the book fair excuse) why don't they ask for donations? I would gladly donate some books!! Even if they had to be new. But for the love of all things holy, stop badgering us to attend the book fair! (I'm talking daily pre-recorded phone calls, people).
There's School pictures. Then comes Class Pictures. Then comes Spring School pictures where they pretty much look the same but are standing up... Then don't forget to fork out the big bucks for a year book because if your kid doesn't have one he/she will be left out of the social activities the last week of school. Seriously? Year books in elementary school?
Field trips: I have never NOT had to pay for a class field trip. If we don't pay, our kids don't go. Feeling the fury just thinking about it.
And then my favorite part: if forking out all the money for all of the above isn't enough, when you enroll each year, they ask for a registration/enrollment fee (or whatever they call it) and they tell you it is to help with class room supplies. Ummm... excuse me, but didn't we just send our kid with a backpack loaded with class room supplies??
Breath. Take deep breaths...
There are some things I do like and don't mind doing (or not doing):
-I don't have to pay for my kids to take the bus -- well, unless you count the taxes we paid that goes toward it.
-Our school has really good security and I feel safe sending the boys there.
-The teachers are fabulous.
-They are willing to work with my boys issues.
-Collecting box tops and Labels for education is cool-- I am all over that!
- And I really like sending my kids back to school. Period.
Seriously, that commercial never gets old... It's a classic!
I know that school boards are elected and it is a politically thing. But I really wish there were people in there that were spending and allocating the money more wisely. Public school is becoming pricey and hardly affordable to families who struggle, and it was NEVER meant to be that way! It was meant to be free for all to come and learn. I feel like the true meaning of education has been lost in all the cool gadgets and technology that is available these days. I understand that there is exceptions for special needs children, they are always an exception when it comes to awesome technological advances... but for the rest of the kids, well, I guess I am "old school" in every sense of the word. It breaks my heart that my kids aren't getting the great experience I had attending school as a kid.... (Like not getting to really celebrate holidays in school anymore, even Halloween is forbidden. Or the lack of recess time -- my kids get ONE recess... ONE. We had 3!! And STILL had plenty of learning time... imagine that...)
I suppose the only real answer is to homeschool. But I don't think I have it in me. Honestly, summers are super hard. I LOVE my boys, but they have certain needs and learn in ways I don't understand. They LOVE going to school. They have tons of friends!
So I should just stop complaining...
PS is it me or do backpacks get pricier every year! Holy cow, I can't afford this!