School Supply Time

August 6, 2009 at 11:36 pm 13 comments

It’s that time of year again… time to shop for school supplies.  I have fond memories of school-supply shopping.  I think we did our main shopping at Ribordy’s Drugs and McShane’s Office supplies – two little local businesses that provided an enjoyable school-supply shopping experience compared to the mayhem, banners, “teen section” of Target.  And what’s with the frantically competing flyers from Staples, Office Depot, and Office Max?  When did our school supply dollars become so sought after?

Somehow now that I’m the parent, the whole school supply shopping seems wrought with stress.  The first shock as a CPS parent involves learning that we are required to purchase paper towels, various sanitizing products, and tissue.  This brings on confusion until another parent explains the paltry budgets of our fine school system and why we need to provide what used to be considered the basic supplies in a school.

The rest of our lists have been pretty standard.  But I still find things to stress about.  With a background in advertising/marketing I take it seriously when a teacher lists a specific brand name.  When she says Crayola crayons does that mean she finds that brand superior in some way and wants only that brand?  If I buy Rose Art will my child be looked down upon?  Or God forbid if I buy crayons at the Dollar Store?  What about the Target brand of plastic bags?  Do I go for quanitity of tissue or box attractiveness?  And for the second year in a row I am confused about what type of paper I’m supposed to buy.  Does “primary” mean the baby kind with the dotted line halfway up? Or is it regular notebook paper?  So many decisions.  So many questions.

I thought it would be fun this year because my son gets to pick out 2 folders and a pencil case.  For some reason all the pencil cases at Target looked really girly but he did find a blue camo one.  The folder selection was equally paltry, dominated by High School Musical.  We scavanged and finally came up with Harry Potter and Spiderman (because yes, those franchises need to rake in even more money.)  I suppose my parents rolled their eyes when I went for the Partridge Family and Josie and the Pussycats school supplies.

Despite the stress, I still geek out a little when it comes to school-supply shopping.  I love looking at all the markers and crayons and blank paper.  Somehow it makes me remember the excitement of starting a new school year.  I can’t tell if my son is feeling any of that yet.  He’s mainly lamenting that 1st grade means no snack time.  And he hasn’t even been told yet that the afternoon fun time doesn’t happen either.   Or that his new room won’t have air conditioning.  Or that the grades are actually A’s, B’s etc.  Best to roll the news out slowly.

Happy shopping!

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13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. School supplies for everyone  |  August 8, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    You know what I don’t like about school supplies? Why I have to buy for everyone in the class (ex: a pack of number 2 pencils don’t label with your child’s name). Also, I hate the miscellaneous items, paper towels, tissue, hand sanitizer, reams of copy paper, etc. I know the budget is tight! Good Grief! Is there any way I could only provide for my own child!!!

  • 2. Peggy  |  August 9, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    It does stink that parents have to shell out so much money at the beginning of the year. The only thing is, if we don’t bring in all that stuff, the teacher ends up buying it, unreimbursed, out of her own pocket. I used to spend $200-300 a month on my classroom on everything from pencils, crayons, paper, coats for kids who had none, etc….My non-teacher friends were horrified that 5%+ of my salary went to do my own job. Can you imagine a nurse being asked to bring in her own syringes? Or a lawyer told they had a copy limit of 300 pages a month…and if they needed more they should go to kinkos and pay for copies themselves?
    Also, kindergarten and primary teachers like to “hold” all the supplies and dole them out in small doses, There is usually one box of supplies (pencils, crayons, scissors) in the middle of the table and the kids all share. This eliminates the “teacher, I need a pencil” requests that can occur multiple times each day. It is difficult for young kids to keep track of all their own supplies and this helps.
    Doesn’t make it easier when you have to buy all the stuff on the list, but it is something teachers REALLY appreciate.

  • 3. C  |  August 10, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    How much can one really spend on school supplies? The added miscellaneous supplies consisting of tissue paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer, etc. don’t add up past $10! So what is the big deal? Considering how limited funding is for the public school system, it is a small price to pay. My only gripe is not knowing what I need to buy as my child prepares for kindergarten. I bought the “basics” but I know some teachers have specific suggestions.

  • 4. To cpsobssessed  |  August 10, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    You should do a thread about track e. I am sure you saw the news today about Earhart which is the school I transferred my child from and I do not believe the people who read your blog would be happy about changing to this schedule. I have noticed there really are not many north side schools switching to this schedule. But on the news huberman says he intends for all schools to be on the track e schedule. What would you do if your son’s school adopted this schedule and he had to go to school today.

  • 5. cpsobsessed  |  August 12, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    I do need to research the Track E thing a bit. I’ve been in serious denial about it. My initial reaction is that I’d HATE it, given that we have so few warm weather days in Chicago that I want my child to be out of school during all of them! On the other hand, I’ve seen the knowledge seem to flow right out of my son’s brain during the past 2 months.
    Ultimately, Track E seems like a nightmare for working parents, so despite the education aspect I can’t figure out how it works in reality. Must investigate….

  • 6. Track E  |  August 13, 2009 at 8:11 am

    The summer break is condensed. School starts the first or second week in August. Then, there are 3 intercessions (to make up for the early start). The first two break is at the end of Sept-beginning of October. There is a 3 week Xmas break and a two week spring break. Obssessed the knowledge is not flowing out of your son’s head. He will pick up steam when school starts. There are a lot of schools without air conditioning and children can,t learn if they are hot. Studies have shown that Track E seems beneficial for low-achieving, high poverty schools, especially if the schools provide or have a program nearby for children to engage in educational activities during the intercessions. The problem with Track E is that it is the PRINCIPAL’s decision. A good principal will get the buy-in of teachers and parents. Bad principals just do what they want. The parent’s at Earhart did not want Track E. Last years ISAT scores climbed to 88%. Despite what you may read about the poverty rate it isn’t true. Most people lie on their lunch applications. Earhart is located across the street from houses valued from $250,000-$375,000. Some people transferred their children (many of the children were very bright) and the principal had to take in more students from out of the area who may be behind academically. I believe more will continue to leave. The principal announced the move to Track E on the last day to subit GEAP & Magnet applications which caught a lot of parents of guard.

  • 7. Peggy  |  August 13, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    That is true about families lying on their lunch applications. I have worked for a school that openly instructed their families to do so.

    Regarding the heat issue, that is a BIG one. I personally think schools should all be year round, and that the school year needs to be increased by 3-4 weeks and the school day needs to be lengthened by at least 30 minutes, (in order to make more time for recess and or reading instruction) but that’s just the teacher in me talking. However, as a teacher, I could never see an extended year truly working unless all schools had air conditioning (that works). And that will never happen.

    On another note, where is Earhart? I have never heard of it before. Also, did your principal at Earhart have to get the track E approved by the LSC or was it strictly her/his call? Just curious.

  • 8. cpsobsessed  |  August 14, 2009 at 1:18 am

    Based on my experience on an LSC, I don’t think a principal would need LSC approval to go to Track E. Budgets are the only thing they actually need approval on from the LSC.
    The LSC could make a recommendation for or against the change and then when evaluation/contract renewal time came around it could influence their ratings.

  • 9. To Peggy  |  August 14, 2009 at 8:20 am

    Earhart is a neighborhood school on the south side in an area called “Pill Hill”. It was named Pill HIll because many years ago affluent doctors bought the expensive, large houses in the neighborhood. The principal informed the LSC and did some half-baked survey with the parents. She received about 30 surveys back and there are about 300 students in the school. She said most of the parents wanted Track E. The LSC asked to see the surveys and she said no. She lies a lot so I know the reaon we couldn’t see the surveys because the parents didn’t want Track E. Track E is solely at the discretion of the principal. A principal should try to bet the buy-in of the teachers and parents but they don’t have to. By the way Earhart is an AMPS school.

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