Unbagging the Cats 1

Unbagging the Cats 1

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Provisions 'R' Us

Who needs a calendar when you can tell the season by the Walmart aisles? Apparently, the new school year is sweeping down the plain like an Oscar Hammerstein lyric in a Shirley Jones musical.

I've been quizzing my boys about what items they need this year. Then I saw this: "I've Got Whos-Its and Whats-Its Galore". Which set me off, of course. Because I'm an insider. I know what gets used in a classroom. And I don't see the reasoning behind some of these required items on the lists my kids have been bringing home over the past ten years. Maybe an elementary insider can fill me in. But as a high school and used-to-be middle school teacher, I am suspicious. It's a conspiracy in the making.


KLEENEX - What are we doing, building a Homecoming Parade float during recess?
Pardon my math, but my classroom uses about 1 box of Kleenex per week during cold and flu season. At most, that's 36 boxes per year. Yet some of my boys' teachers have requested that each student bring 2 boxes of Kleenex for the classroom cupboard. Estimate 20 students per class, 6 classes per day...that's 360 boxes of Kleenex. Even if that teacher doubles up, and teaches the same set of kids twice a day, for example, as in English/Reading or Civics/History, that's still 180 boxes of Kleenex.

Believe me, kids don't go blowing their nose that often. Have you ever seen these teens and tweens? They are more likely to let that snot rope dangle to the tile and then SNIIIIIFFFFFF it back in than to get up and grab a Kleenex. Granted, not all kids will bring their 2 boxes. But that's still too many tissues for the estimated usage over the school year.

ZIP-LOC BAGS - Does the teacher bring a sack lunch?
The only time I've seen my kids bring home anything to do with a Zip-Loc bag was sight words written on cut-up manilla folders. Once. In elementary school.

INDEX CARDS - Who's writing a graduate thesis?
In high school, the students I teach talk of writing 1 research paper. In 10th grade. They need 5 index cards for source cards. And more to record information. Which not many of them use, because this is not the dark ages where they hike to a monastery to do research in books written on parchment with a quill dipped into a cow-horn of ink made from roots and nuts. They use the internet on school laptops, and save their information on the student drive.

DRI-ERASE MARKERS - Fill out a requisition already!
I only know of one elementary grade in which my kids used a piece of white board at their desk to write things with these markers. But a lot of teacher lists include this item. Students should not have to buy classroom supplies for the teacher. We give them free lunch and breakfast, by cracky! Surely they can learn for free as well.

MAGAZINE RACKS - What is this, a classroom or a waiting room?
One year in elementary school, the kids needed a magazine rack. They said it was to put their workbooks in. I suppose their desks were too full of Zip-Loc bags and index cards and dri-erase markers. But seriously. What kind of masochist wants 20-30 kids with magazine racks under their desks. That's stuff my nightmares are made of. That, and sentences ended with prepositions.

You might think that when you send a 12-pack of pretty paisley pencils, or those manly camouflage #2s, that your child will be happily scrawling away on the loose-leaf wide-ruled 500-page pack of paper that you sent so loving on the first day of school. Au contraire. Those items go into a community bin to be stored in the pantry for when somebody needs one. They are doled out randomly by the teacher. If you want your child to actually use the items you pick out, send them a couple weeks later, in the backpack, clandestinely. Because in elementary classrooms, what you thought was yours is theirs.


What do I require my high school students to have for class? A notebook and a pen. Period.


Sioux said...

I cannot speak for other elementary grades, but I know that a class of third graders can go through a box of kleenex in 13 minutes and 7 seconds. (I've timed it.)

And as a high school teacher, you probably don't have 19 bulletin boards to decorate in your classroom, do you?

The magazine racks? I agree with you on that one. But let us keep the glue, the index cards, and the baggies.


Val Thevictorian said...

I'm dying to know the mystery of the baggies.

Glue? I can see it on the bulletin boards.

Index cards? Maybe if they misbehave and have to pull a card? What else do you use those for? Sight words? Making sentences like in that Scrabble cube game? Multiplication facts flash cards? I put all my students' names on index cards, and use them to pick out-loud readers, lab partners, volunteers, question-answerers, etc. But that only takes less than 200 cards--or two packs of the neon cards.

I buy a lot of my consumables myself, because we are not an affluent district. Some teachers give bonus points for bringing stuff, but I don't think that's fair to the ones who can't afford it. So...I buy the Kleenex and the GermX and the Band-Aids, and six packs of colored paper, plus glue and glue sticks and tape at science fair time, and Solo cups, and 8 dozen eggs for the egg drop contest, and 14 packs of straws for building towers, and 30 bars of soap for weathering and erosion, and 10 Hot Wheels for graphing potential energy, and four sets of dominoes for graphing speed vs. distance etc. But no, I do not have 19 bulletin boards. Only one.

I have to use my requisition money for printer cartridges, and still end up buying one or two of those myself by the end of the year.

Gosh. Maybe I need to look for a part-time job to support my employment habit!

Linda O'Connell said...

We should put chocolate on our lists, don't you think?

labbie1 said...

It has been a while since I have had to take a child school shopping--and I miss it! Geez! I totally wish I could just borrow one to take shopping for school! Look out when I have grandkids of school age! It may be a while. My son is only 28! LOL

Lacking that, our church collects supplies each year for the local schools. This does help my need to school shop!

But NOT this weekend!!! NOOOOOOO!!! Tax Free school shopping weekend!!!! Wow! This is cool! They didn't have that when I was in school and still don't have it in Oz, the mid-south or the great southwest where my youngun attended school. I feel cheated!

Last year when I saw the local lists, I was like what the heck???? Really??? Who comes up with this stuff? Where is the tax money going???? I don't see the teachers being overpaid by any stretch of the imagination and by the lists, I don't see a lot of supplies being purchased--so where is the money????

Back to the lists...

First, not having a child of a specific age, I cleaned up last year after school started and bought all the supplies on the cheap! Yay! I have 3 boxes of stuff packed away to haul out and take to the school.

I have dutifully added a TON of kleenex and some glue sticks. BTW, what happened to good old flour and water??? Totally edible and sticks pretty well... :)

Post it notes for Kindergarten? What are they doing? Wall papering the classroom? Just wondering...

42 count Clorox disinfecting wipes? For each kid? and why Clorox? What's wrong with XYZ brand? Kickbacks? (just going with the old Conspiracy Theory).

This is aside from a bottle of hand sanitizer--why sanitizer AND disinfecting wipes?, resealable sandwich bags, gallon ziploc bags, 10 count markers, and an empty cereal box? Why an empty cereal box?

They all ask for scissors. Okay. I get that. And they specify no plastic blades. Yep. I get that. Can't believe parents would actually get plastic blades, but...Some specify blunt or pointy tip or longer scissors. Okay. But some specify Fiskars. Okay, these or kindergarten kids, folks. Fiskars!!!! Really??? I didn't get Fiskars until I was married!

They now want the gym shoes left at school huh? That's new.

Now, the first grade wants a bottle of germ (8-10 oz). I guess this teacher has decided to make her classroom easier to teach by lightening the load. Tough kid? Give em the germ!!! That'll get rid of 'em for a while! LOL

Paper plates? Perhaps to use with the sandwich bags for teacher's lunch? Why not Peanut Butter and Jelly too? Don't forget the bread!

1-2 reams of white copy paper and 2 reams of colored copy paper??? Really? Copy paper???

36 pencils per student??? What do they do--feed them to the classroom hamster?

Skeins of yarn--thank goodness it is any color! Whew!

And what in the world is a $14 Happi Nappi for 3rd graders???? Do they nap? Is it a napkin? A diaper? What?

On the good side, one of the teachers wants those specialty scissors with the wavy and zigzag blades. I have been thinking about weeding out some of my scrapbookking scissors...hmmm...

This stuff is just for grades k-4!

On the other hand, what I DON'T see is the Big Chief Tablet. How can you learn without a Big Chief????

I fear for this generation! ;-)

irishoma said...

I love back-to-school shopping--the smell of pencils and erasers and crayons has tempted me more than chocolate when I was a kid.
Besides buying school supplies for my grandkids so they have their supplies I stock up for the entire year and keep everything in a huge plastic bin. Writers love pens and notebooks!
Along with the other supplies, my grandson has to have book covers in different shapes and sizes. My granddaughter has already bought supplies for her locker.
I don't understand why students are asked to bring in computer paper and dry eraser markers,though. Plus we pay quite a bit for tuition for parochial school. At any rate, I'm looking forward to their going back to school, being around their friends, and learning.

Val Thevictorian said...

Of course. That would foster good will all around.

I worked at a tiny little school in western Missouri that required separate gym shoes. They did not have to be new, but had to be worn only in the gym. The reason was that the gym floor had been sanded and resurfaced to the tune of a pretty penny, and they did not want gravel in the shoe soles to destroy the finish. If kids didn't have a second pair of shoes, the school found a way to get some for them. Nothing fancy.

Yo ho ho and a bottle of germ! But I fear that you are out of touch on the peanut butter and jelly suggestion. Now we have to be peanut free.

I, too, love shopping for school supplies. For most of his life, my son Genius has voiced a desire to work at Office Max.

One of our teachers tried the book cover idea for new texts, but too many kids didn't get them. Those locker shelf thingies are handy, but my youngest son won't use one.

I can understand the paper and markers for a parochial school. Their budget most likely depends on the tuition. I know from friends who have worked in parochial schools that the teacher pay is less than in most public schools. Yet one friend was shocked that she did not get a Christmas bonus after she had switched to a public school.

It seems like today's kids are not getting the same education we got. I don't think more money, or entertaining them to keep their attention, is the solution. I wish I had the answer. I wish we could ban all cell phones from the classroom without patrolling the aisles to take them away.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I just thought that maybe there was a need for black market kleenex and that is the only way the teachers could survive on the salary they got.

labbie1 said...

Is just Jelly okay? Or does it have to be high fructose corn syrup free?

I never thought about the gym floor thing. Makes sense.

BTW this is NOT a parochial school that is requiring copy paper--it is the public school.

I know I was very verbose on the supject, but it just amazes me how long the lists are getting.

Kathy--LOL That's a good one! Black market kleenex...hehehehe!

Val Thevictorian said...

Some survive by setting out a roll of school toilet paper for kiddie nose-blowing. That usually does not end well.

Well, we serve the kids Little Debbie cakes, so I'm guessing there's no limit on the high fructose corn syrup.