Houston and I ventured to Wally World (that big box store everyone hates but shops at anyway) today to buy school supplies. I know the tax-free shopping days are only a few days away but I've decided my sanity is worth the $5 in taxes. I made that mistake only once. The overly rude people, crowded aisles and picked through shelves are not worth $5 in savings. As a teacher it bothers me to hear people complain about buying school supplies. If I go ahead and make that trip now I can usually do it peacefully. Usually ...
So there were about three other parents in the school supply section tonight. You know that nice little area they set up near the front of the store to help meet all your school supply needs except for that one item that is still going to require you to travel to the other side of the store before you are done with the list? Yep, that one. (It was tissues today.) It was almost a stress-free experience. Almost.
We casually picked our items from the nicely stocked and neatly organized pre-back-to-school-shopping-mayhem shelves and were almost headed to the checkout when a mom looked at me and very snarkily said, "This is ridiculous. Pretty soon they're going to make us start paying to send them." I'm pretty proud of myself for giving the polite smile and nod that I did. On the inside I was giving quite a stern lecture while jumping up and down flailing my arms around explaining how I am about to spend $72 for my own kids and then will proceed to spend several times that over the school year stocking my own classroom and buying things for my students and how dare she complain about supplying her own child with things needed for her free education so her very underpaid teacher doesn't have to.
This experience got me thinking. Do people just feel entitled to have everything for free nowdays? Do people not value the education their children receive for free? Don't people know? Do they know how much teachers spend? Do they have ANY IDEA? (sorry, had to yell) Maybe if people had to pay for it they would value it a little more. Maybe if they cared a little more then we wouldn't be in the situation we are in. Maybe? I don't know. What I do know is our education system is hurting, teachers are underpaid and undervalued, and too many people expect things for free. It's sad and it makes me worry for our future.
I get all excited like a kid at Christmas when students bring supplies to my classroom. It's awesome and unfortunately rare. I know everyone can't afford it but in my experience over the past few years I can tell you that I've only received supplies from a few students each time I've sent out a request. I usually even end up supplying notebooks and pencils to many of my students because they never bring their own. I would rather spend the money to have them prepared so I can do what I'm there to do ... teach. And I know many other teachers do the same. We aren't in this profession for the money (obviously) and could really use your support.
So I ask you to please consider not complaining when you go buy school supplies. Consider it your contribution to your child's education. You might even consider buying the big bottle of hand sanitizer and getting the items marked "optional" on the supply list. (Crazy, right?) And when your kids are in high school, you could even still send in things like tissues, hand sanitizer, clorox wipes, etc. We use them too but don't have the nice little lists at the front of the store asking for everyone to purchase them for us.