I was watching the news the other day, and was shocked to see what it costs to send a child to school these days. On average, a grade school student requires $474 per year, a middle school student will need $545 in supplies, and a high school student will cost you $1,000! This is just to go to a school that you pay state and local taxes to attend! I have to admit, we couldn't afford to send our two children to school these days! How did this get to be so expensive? I'm still amazed that class trips end up going to foreign countries for a week or more, and parents have the money to pay for their child to go along. Is it that they can afford it, or do they do this on credit, paying it back over time?
Life was different when I was growing up. There was no list of items that the school system demanded you have. We would take a family trip to the Ben Franklin 5 & and 10 to buy our one folder for 10 cents, a pad of notebook paper, a notebook (if we ruined the one we had the year before), a box of 12 crayons, pencils, an eraser, and a fountain pen. That was it! We would get 1 pair of tennis shoes (the "high tops" were more expensive, so we didn't get them), and perhaps a couple of pairs of pants. All other clothes were home made, or hand-me-downs, often times from neighbors and relatives. We walked to school, and home for lunch, no matter what the weather was, no buses, nor "Mom Taxis". Kindergarten was a private school, that cost more than we could afford so we went right to First Grade.
By about 5th grade, the school decided to start a band. While we were dieing to join and learn to play music, it was just too expensive, a ridiculous cost of $4 a week!
Still, we didn't feel underprivileged in any way. While we were poorer than most of our classmates, we didn't really feel left out. It wasn't until High School that we began to feel excluded. Our school was in a different town, populated by many more affluent families, as well as the surrounding towns. I remember just how out of place I felt on my first day of school! Most of my classmates had lived in the city, and seen things I had never even imagined existed. They wore new expensive clothes, while I wore hand-me-downs, some kids even had a transistor radio! Such things were clearly out of our reach!
However, we got an education, and prepared for life as an adult. We learned the value of hard work to reach our goals, and how to behave in a public environment. The school, and our parent's tax dollars, paid for most, if not all, of the required classroom supplies.
So what has happened to education? What on earth would cost a thousand dollar out of pocket expense to attend a public high school? Has the world gone crazy? And what of the parents who can't afford this cost? Will children be banned from the school because their parents can't afford a new laptop computer each year? Thankfully, there are groups to help the less than fortunate families to get supplies.
Still, one has to question the cost of the whole thing. It seems to be all about the money, as always. A school is an economic engine, not a place of education!
Shop 'till you drop, and charge it if you don't have the cash. And no, we will not teach your child to write in cursive!
Sad, isn't it?
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