Sunday, August 29, 2010

Back To School Madness

My older child starts first grade this week. My how time flies. Sniff. The school has helpfully provided a list of school supplies they recommend our child should bring to class.  All the stores were madhouses today with back to school shoppers.  Target was a total disaster area.  There were stuff on the floor, piles in the wrong bins and racks, and generally they were out of the things on my list. Staples was crawling with parents and kids. I managed to snatch the last box of Crayola 24 ct. crayons off the shelf. Thank goodness for Office Depot.  Not so great for them because their business seemed quite light, but good for me since I was able to finish my shopping list there.

And what a list it is.  I wonder if our school system gets kickbacks from the Crayola company.  Very clearly, in no uncertain terms, they only want us to buy Crayola products. They specifically mention a competitor's name as one to avoid. Hmm. Heaven forbid my kid should be the only one to have a different brand crayon.  There were stacks and stacks of competitors' crayons at cheaper prices but because the school specified Crayola, these were nearly swept clean from the aisles.

Let's see what else is on this list.  They want fifteen glue sticks along with a bottle of glue. Fifteen? I thought it was usually one or the other.  Why have both glue sticks and regular glue? And why that many sticks? And why specifically Elmer's? Another kickback? They also need four dry erase markers, again brand specific. Do first graders really need all this? This feels very different from when I went to school eons ago. In fact all this stuff won't fit into the cute little backpack we got; we have to go buy a bigger one, just for first grade. Wasn't there a study about increased incidences of childhood back pain in association with these massive backpacks kids wear nowadays?

After looking through this list and checking it twice, I realized there is something missing.  Looking at the picture can you tell what's not there that is fundamental to education as I remembered it to be? Any guesses? That's right, there is no requirement to have No. 2 pencils for our child to bring to school.  There is a demand for a set of headphones to use with computers but not writing instruments to learn basics, like maybe penmanship and writing.  How times have changed.

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