How can we call our “public education system” public, as in funded by taxpayers dollars, when, in fact it appears that school districts and school boards no longer provide even pencils and erasers?
I knew this was happening in all Western nations but not the extent of the problem until I picked up a recent People magazine in a medical office and read about retired autoworker John Mika.
As he explained it in the magazine, on his first day as a substitute teacher in a third grade Buffalo classroom, he found that only 3 of his 27 students had pencils. Now, I am assuming the regular teacher had already provided all those students with pencils.
Which means, that 24 lost theirs and needed new ones. Multiply that amount weekly or even monthly and it becomes very obvious what type of expense we are talking about — hundreds of dollars a year.
I know, there will be some who think teachers should provide those basic supplies from their paychecks. But, why? They are not a work-related expense like clothing, bulletin board decorations, happy face stamps and reward stickers. Teachers (myself included) have been paying for those kinds of extras for decades. But pencils? Surely the most basic tool needed?
I can easily recall setting up my very first classroom just before the Labour Day weekend in 1972 in preparation for the first day of school following the holiday. My homeroom was a grade six and the room itself was the art room. On each of the 33 desks (more like tables), I remember putting several notebooks (one for Language Arts, one for History, one for Science and one for Health), two pencils, one eraser and a 12 inch ruler (that was before metric) — all inside a thoroughly washed and dried ice-cream bin that I got from the local dairy.
Recycling before it was popular! Those bins were wonderful. On the first day of class the students decorated them (I was the art teacher of course) and marked their names in some way. Their purpose? To put at the back of the classroom to store their phys ed clothing — including running shoes.
So, even forty years ago, money was tight and teachers looked for ways to save the school board and parents money.
In my opinion, this has gone beyond savings and into neglect. As commendable as it is of John Mika to supply Buffalo area teachers with basic supplies, something is wrong when our education taxes keep going up and provisions keep going down.
I mean, well over a hundred years ago, our forefathers decided that society as a whole would benefit from a public education. And, so it was decided that since everyone could benefit, everyone should contribute. In return, not only would children learn to read and write and do arithmetic, they would be provided the basic tools to do so.
Yet, a quick Google search under “back-to-school supplies” indicates 300,000,000 entries!!! Meaning, that assumption no longer seems to be the case. Perhaps teachers and parents can comment here and let us know how deep the neglect goes?
Endnote: To comment on this new theme, the word “Reply” or “number” of comments will be at the top right beside the post’s title. Hard to find if you don’t know where to look.