I recently saw a Facebook post written by a teacher where she described two different interactions with parents regarding school supplies.
It’s a post from last year, but now that it’s that time of year again, the post is resurfacing.
In a nutshell, one parent was complaining about how much money she had to spend on school supplies for her kid, and the other parent was completely supportive and understanding about the whole thing.
As a parent, I get it. With five kids in the public school system this year, we will spend between $100 – $200 getting everything on the school lists for our first, second, third, sixth, and seventh graders.
As a former teacher, I also get it.
When I first started teaching, there was money in the budget for most supplies.
We got paper and pencils and crayons and scissors and tissues and almost everything we would need for our students. And then, as budgets were cut, those things were some of the first to go. And gradually, students were responsible for more and more supplies until eventually, they were responsible for pretty much all of them.
It’s not a fun position to be in as a teacher or as a parent.
But here is the thing…
You do have some say and some influence in this department.
But it’s not by complaining to the teacher. It’s not by complaining to the principal, either.
Your influence comes at the times that most parents choose to be ignorant and oblivious.
Every year there is a vote on our town’s school budget.
The first five or six years we lived here, I was completely uninvolved politically. I was as clueless as you could possibly be.
If there was a budget vote, I couldn’t even tell you when it was.
Ignorance was bliss.
Until my kids entered school and I saw the f*&@ing supply lists.
They were massive!
How many goddamned glue sticks does one kid need?
It took me a few years to educate myself with respect to local politics.
And I don’t have the exact numbers. Not even close.
But here is what I have learned: the percentage of people with children who vote on school budgets and who attend Board of Ed and PTA meetings is embarrassingly low.
And I know it’s not just my town. It’s every town.
It’s something like less than 20% of parents who vote.
But it’s 100% of parents who complain about how much money needs to be spent on school supplies.
You know where your influence is? It’s at the polls. It’s at the Board of Ed meetings.
But you have to be involved. You have to speak up.
And you also have to approve budgets.
The last time one of our budget increases for the school was shot down, the increase in taxes per family was something like $38.
Thirty eight dollars.
You could be involved, know what’s in your town’s budget, speak up regarding what you are unhappy about, and approve a $40/family increase that could pay for a lot of those supplies you complain about having to buy, or you can remain completely uninvolved, bury your ignorant head in the sand, and shell out two or three or four times the amount of a proposed tax increase at the beginning of the school year depending on how many kids you have in the school system.
Those school supplies you are paying for? They aren’t the teachers’ faults.
They are the parents’. The 80% of the parents who don’t want to be bothered participating in the decisions that will affect their kids in school in the years to come.
And waiting until your kids are in school is not early enough! But the time they are in kindergarten, there are decisions that have been put into place that could take several years to reverse.
You need to get involved well before your kids are ready for kindergarten!!! You need to get involved as soon as you are a taxpayer!
So before you complain this year about how much money you have to shell out for your kids’s school supplies, first you might want to consider a few things.
Did you vote on your last school budget?
Did you vote in your last local election?
Are you even registered to vote?
If not, you really have no right to complain about anything.
And instead of spending time bashing school systems and teachers in an angry Facebook post about how much shit you have to buy, maybe you should focus your energy on being a responsible citizen, filling out a voter registration card, and educating yourself on what is going on in your town.
please take 10 seconds to vote for me!!!!!!!!!