School supplies used to consist of one three- inch three-ring binder covered in blue fabric, a five-pack of tabbed dividers, a 500 sheet pack of lined notebook paper, one blue ball-point pen, two #2 pencils and an eraser. If you wanted, you could also add a few duo-tang folders.
Last week, I was out with the masses on the hunt for a rubber fuchsia binder that folds in thirds, an 11-inch metric ruler, tabulated composition books, desk size sanitation cream, a 1.5 inch cardboard binder, a hard cover 2- inch binder, a bendable plastic 3-inch binder, a pack of all mint colored dividers, a pack of all magenta colored dividers, a pack of mixed primary color binders and of course duo-tangs with side pockets but no” paper holder thingy,” a pack of duo-tangs with “paper holder thingy,” but no side pockets, a pack of duo-tangs with both, a rainbow pack of highlighters, 540 #2 Dixon Ticonderoga pencils (that’s three per day), erasable ink pens in black and blue, non-erasable pens in black and blue. Of course, that meant that there was something new that appeared on the list for the first time this year, corrective tape! Don’t forget, red felt pens for grading. Couldn’t they just use one of the colored pencils? Maybe, but according to the kids, teacher by teacher, you can’t be sure. Oh, and don’t forget to get a flash drive with enough memory to run a third world country.
The kids will tell you that some of the mandatory stuff never gets used and some of the optional stuff is really mandatory. So, you scour the isles and scout several stores until, proudly, you have it all. At home with your bounty, you divide and analyze, then head back to the store because the not too big, plastic, but not the brittle kind, protractor was somehow missed.
We stored some stuff for later, packed the stuff needed for the first day and readied ourselves. The children were excited until suddenly it dawns on them. They have to carry all this stuff on their backs. On Tuesday and Thursday, the back pack will weigh 25 pounds. The other days it will be roughly 18 pounds. Good thing it isn’t the other way around, the optimists inform.
Budget cuts explain some of the requests, but corrective tape… Really? Come on teachers, give me a break. Future kids may have to come to class with their own brick and mortar.
Guarantee the children will arrive home tomorrow with, yep, another list! That’s the truth.
Amy Donner is the president of Red Sunset Merchants association. She can be reached online at firstname.lastname@example.org.