Wednesday, August 26, 2009

To Whom It May Concern

We have spent the DAY shopping for school supplies. We took about 30 minutes for a break at lunchtime and headed out for another couple hours. This was just for supplies. Not even getting the actual clothes they are going to require.

The more I’ve looked at these lists, the more questions I have and the more irritated I get for the specificity of them. Here is the letter I would like to send to school:

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Dear School:

I have spent the last eight solid hours shopping for school supplies. Plus I’ve spent a few hours here and there during the last couple weeks trying to look up prices and purchase things to make sure I fit everything in to our family’s budget. Let’s cut to the chase.

I have a couple questions:

1. My husband would like to know if you have a “deal” in place with Target/Walmart or specific manufacturers like Bic/Expo/Mead. It seems that I always have to have three of something that is only sold in a pack of five. Or seven of something that is sold in a pack of six. Never do I need the actual amount that is packaged. I already have three Expo markers set aside for next year not to mention 10 out of 12 red pens just waiting to be used for correcting.

2. Speaking of pens, what gives? Why is my 5th grader required to bring four blue/black ballpoints, two red correcting pens, and two flair pens (of any color)? Can papers not be corrected in blue/black? Does she actually use the flair pens or are these for the teachers? Because flair pens are a bit pricey - I believe the package of five cost me $7.29. I assure you if you think my daughter NEEDS to use these, she doesn’t. The four blue pens I’m already sending will work absolutely fine for her. I’m pretty sure they’d work just find for the teacher too. And heck, at a package of 12 blue/black pens for $.99 I’d even be willing to send five to school – including one for the teacher.
3. Speaking of sharing, why all the community property lately? Why do I have to buy two boxes of 20 pencils for my 5th grader so that they can be thrown in a community box? Some teachers have explained that they don’t want to have time wasted sharpening pencils so they allot a separate time for this process to be done en masse. I’m sorry for the kid that has that job that day. Pencil sharpeners haven’t changed since I was in school; they still don’t work. Why can’t the kids stand in line during the mornings and sharpen five pencils for the day? We did. And I bet I wasn’t getting sick quite as often from using the pencil that the last kid chewed on.

4. Speaking of spreading germs, Clorox wipes? Really? Do they HAVE to be Clorox? The ones we sent aren’t. I hope they work as well, though I really don’t think you need them at all. We used this crazy stuff called soap and water. I teach piano after school and I can’t say that I’ve seen a decrease in the amount of colds coming through since the wipes started appearing in classrooms. Kids still blow their nose and wipe their hands on their pants. They are probably getting colds from the situation mentioned in #3.

5. Speaking of snot – why the discrepancy in boxes of tissue I must supply? My 5th grader needs to supply two boxes (200 count each, specifically). My 2nd grader only needs to supply one box. Do 2nd graders get sick less often than 5th graders? Both kids required Clorox wipes be sent to their rooms so I’m not sure how that’s possible. Perhaps you should tally how many kids are actually getting sick and make a note of it.

6. Speaking of notes, please explain the post-it note usage. Not only does it interfere with the numbers per pack discrepancy mentioned in #1 but it also seems ridiculous that I have to buy this many for my student. Am I really just sending these for the teacher? For my 2nd grader I had to supply two packs of post-its. For my 5th grader I had to supply a 3-pack of post-its. And what does this mean: “pack”? Is each individual pad considered a pack or is a set of four pads wrapped together a pack? I’m going with a single pad being a collection because my wallet doesn’t want to dole out what a wrapped package will cost us. Again, because they are sold in sets of four, I had to buy two sets and split them. I also didn’t buy the Post-It brand. Have you looked at the cost of these? They are over double the price of what I paid for the generic brand. And lets look at some numbers – in my 2nd grader's classroom with everyone doing as I did, that’s 4,000 actual post-its to be used over 172 days in school. That’s an average of 23.25 post-its used per day. You couldn’t possibly convince me that is necessary. I think in the entire YEAR last year I received 3 post-its from my kids' teachers combined. We live in a digital age; all my kids hear about from every direction is “living green”. If a note has to be sent home for a parent, then e-mail them. I understand some parents don’t have email – then by all means, send a post-it or perhaps write it in the planning calendar I’m required to buy each year and sign each night. But I still think the reading of 23.25 notes per day average could be reduced by at least 90%.

7. Speaking of reading – why are my kids required to bring certain COLORS of folders and notebooks to school? Do you know how hard these are to find? Purple is always the hardest. I’m searching my fourth store for a purple notebook. Would it be so awful if the kids came to school with LABELED folders? Wouldn’t this, in fact, reinforce the reading skills you are trying to help them master? Instead I’m forced to try and find seven different colored folders for which only five colors actually exist. Now my student has to read the difference between the two sets of folders of the same color, so we really aren’t defeating the ‘saving time/confusion’ effort you may argue to me. Bottom line: each child will still be required to read the notebook or folder despite your best efforts. In the process of you changing this system I’ll save time and money.

8. Speaking of money, why the crazy span in party money to classes? I used to have to send $10 for “party money”. This year neither of my kids’ classes require this donation. Yahoo! But, a mom of a 3rd grader told me her daughter is required to have $35 sent in for “party and field trips” at this same school. At 20 students per class that is $700. What kind of parties are they throwing in 3rd grade and can I be invited? A couple weeks ago we received a letter stating that our school system was underscoring with the government’s programs and the letter listed the steps being taken over the year to better that. My husband’s first thought was: have fewer parties and more actual class time. Unfortunately he was only half-kidding; it seemed to us there was about one per month in classes. And are the 3rd grade parents still going to be asked to spend $7 or $10 per field trip after this initial fund requirement? I hope not. Please address this before my youngest gets in third grade next year.

I wish you the best this year. And I apologize in advance for my daughter bringing a purple, college-ruled notebook to school and a colored protractor instead of clear.

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Okay. I’ll never send it, but it sure did feel good writing it.


The Pats said...

I think it should be sent! Sounds like the school administrators are not doing their job of running an efficient system. I am a little surprised that they aren't requiring you to have a computer for each child. That will probably be next. Good luck.


Carol said...

Don't send the letter, hand deliver it! And get your two cents in and bring a possy - I'm sure there are many other mothers who feel the same way. Together you can get the system changed, it always take one to start the process! Go for it.


Dan said...

I think you should send it to the Shakopee paper.I'm sure you aren't alone. There are plenty of parents and retired parents rich and poor who feel the schools are out of control. They don't feel they have to answer to John Q Public no one makes a loud enough noise. Go for it while you are still angry! The blog is well written and makes sense, something school administraters are missing.

Anonymous said...

Community pencils? Really? Send the letter.


Missy said...

I would send the letter to the paper and see if the administration reads it and hopefully something would get changed. We in Iowa think that school supplies should be given out to everyone at school so the kids all have the same and no one crys because they are using their stuff they brought to school. The supplies cost enough lets not share. Good luck and way to go.

Dan said...

I think you should send it to the paper as well....but more importantly I feel bad for my kids.

There is NO way I am going to abide by a list that tells me they need to bring two boxes of kleenex and community pencils.

If one of my kids classmates needs a pencil, then he or she can ask to borrow one. If my kid likes the pencil borrower, she can say yes, otherwise I could care less if the kid has to prick his finger and write in blood.

What do they do if a kid shows up with only a notebook, a pencil and an eagerness to learn....

"Sorry little third grader, but since you did not bring the trunk of supplies we specifically can no longer learn here."

Katelyn and Ashley will have a yellow #2 pencil....they won't even get the mechanical ones until they are in 9th grade...

So like I said, I feel bad for my kids...