Back To School Hell

As the commercial goes, ‘it’s the most wonderful time of the year!’  That is until you get that school supply list in the mail.  When did this start exactly?  When I was a kid we bought some new clothes, new shoes, a backpack (more on these Evil Suckers later)  and maybe a case for our pencils….that we’d get AT school.  All the basics: pencils, paper, glue, ruler, tissues…these things were available to us in the classroom…it was a given.

Here’s my son’s 5th grade supply list:

1 one inch three-ring binder

4 marble composition books

1 package of loose leaf paper with reinforced holes

1 zipper pencil-case

1 box of washable markers

1 box of colored pencils

5 folders…(green, red, blue, yellow, orange)

1 plastic folder

3 packages of post-it’s 1 1/2 x 2

2 highlighters

1 ruler

3 gluesticks

1 pair of scissors

3 boxes of tissues

3 packs of one dozen pencils

1 ream of copy paper

Why not one desk, one chair, 2 blackboards and one excellent teacher?  I understand times are tough all over and I think teachers are some of the most admirable people out there, but where did all of these basics go?  We had scissors and rulers in my 5th grade classroom, what happened to them?  There was a closet with paper and pencils and other necessities.  And what’s with the specifics?  The local big box store had lots of folders, but not one orange folder and for the life of me I couldn’t find 1 1/2″ x 2″ Post-It’s.  Now if he were to need these to have at home to use, ok.  But these get delivered to the school ahead of time and stored in a closet for everyone to use.

This is just to start the year and for the classroom.  There will be other special requests throughout the year from the class as well as the art teacher etc.  I have no problem saving egg cartons or toilet paper rolls for projects, but do I really need my kid to have his own compass, protractor and three-hole punch…wait, can’t have a compass anymore because it’s probably considered a weapon so scratch that.

I think a more reasonable list from a teacher would include:

1 bottle of wine

1 fifth of hard liquor

2 bottles of prescription painkillers

6 sets of ear plugs

any unused frequent flier miles

1 change of address form

These are thing that taxes don’t pay for that a teacher can REALLY use.

And backpacks?  I think I had maybe a grand total of MAYBE 3 back-backs when I was in school.  One in late elementary school one in Jr. high and one in high school.  I only got a new one when duct tape would no longer hold the old one together properly.  For some reason my kids need new ones every year in elementary school because the old Super Man one isn’t ‘cool’ anymore and he needs a new Super Man one.  Luckily once they get to 4th grade or so they’re away from characters into more basics, though my 10-year-old has one with 245 pockets so none of us can ever find anything in it.

At least the house will be quieter in a few weeks…


About J

I am a happily married Father of three living in Westchester County New York.
This entry was posted in Humor, Kids, school and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

136 Responses to Back To School Hell

    • This is one of the reasons that we opted to homeschool, which is not a realistic option for everyone, I realize. But I must say I don’t miss the mad dash to Target or Wally World to spend oodles of greenbacks on all of that stuff. Makes me crazy, those school supply lists. I heard (not verified) that a school district in Hawaii was asking parents to bring in toilet paper! Our neighborhood public school cannot afford the basics, as indicated by the lists of needed supplies they hand out to parents; but apparently they can afford a $25,000 new splashy electronic sign and can afford to power it 24/7. The neighborhood association filed a petition so that the school would shut the darn thing off between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. so folks didn’t have to have the lights blaring into bedrooms at night. I’m stymied by the mismanagement of funds in the public school system and think it is a bungled mess. At least with homeschooling I can control our expenses; although we do pay taxes and I’m sure some of those dollars helped to purchase that new sign to make our neighborhood school look good :). I’m with you, buddy.

  1. Wow, that list has doubled since I was in elementary. Where did all the basics go?

  2. I’m a teacher and I like your class list a lot better!

  3. LenaDeeAnne says:

    Don’t forget 1 box of ziploc baggies- gallon for boys, pint for girls, 1 pkg of wipies, 1 roll of 35 mm film, and a $25 activity fee! WTH?

    And if you had high school kids, as I do: textbook covers, scientific calculators, binders, binders, binders, “lots and lots of copy paper,” and $25 art fee *per semester*!

  4. I’m glad I’m past those days as well. Now my kids school supplies (going away to college) consist of deoderant, shampoo, dishes, mac N Cheese, and other college essentials.

  5. brythianakathryn says:

    You are very right. 😦 I provide tissues for my classmates and myself.

  6. Wow, that is a big list. Several of my friends have to get lists like this (and more!) for their kids. I guess we are lucky our list for our son this year is short. I’m amazed by some of the stuff that people have to buy for their kids. I was born in the 70s and I don’t remember bringing much (if anything?) to school on the first day. maybe a new pencil case??

  7. Michelle says:

    Where I live, some schools are asking for double so the entire class can have supplies. While I don’t have any children, I just think it is rediculous that parents have to buy for Timmy and Sally, when the parents can barely afford the list for their kids!

  8. J says:

    This was my 3rd grader’s list and that did not include Spanish and Chinese. Both wanted folders, paper, copy paper, spanish/english dictionary… I was thinking you all better take what I gave the home room tracher and share lol.

  9. kaykay says:

    i have seen lists in France which stipulated brandnames – prefixed by “in the style of…”.
    It made me think the stationary industry has made a secret pact with teachers and principles to force parents into buying all that stuff.
    looking forward to find out what it’s going to be like for my little boy who will start school here in Australia in January. We will have to buy the uniforms too…

  10. Wow! I’m glad my time in elementary school was eons ago and with less stuff. This is from the 80’s but remember when you only needed the simple 8 crayon set? My 3rd grade teacher taught us how to mix those colors to make a different color. Learning with fun!:)

  11. Hippie Cahier says:

    As a former teacher, I give you my seal of approval on your suggested teacher list.

    Have a great school year!

  12. Such a funny post and so very true. There was even a big difference between when my kids went to school (the 80s) and when I went, before the industrial revolution. And our bookbags weighed 1/10th of the behemoth backpacks kids carry nowadays.

  13. Thank God my kids are all grown up and I don’t have to deal with the modern school system. With five children, we’d have never been able to afford it all.

  14. Take heart, Kisco Dad. I just sent one of mine off to high School. No supply list. Oh, there is the obvious, such as a backpack, and notepad, but what they do is let the teachers decide, and they are given the requirements by the teachers on the first day of class. From friends I understand that it is really much more like when we went to high school. A notepad, and pen and pencil, however you’d like to arrange that. My twins, however, in 8th grade, had the dreaded supply list. My annoyance peaked in 3rd grade when I was asked to send in markers, after I’d already done so. When I inquired, I was told that not everybody brought them in. So, in the lower grades, where they have community supplies, it really sucks, because you end up buying for the parents who either don’t care, or cant afford it. In middle school it was better, because they no longer bought community supplies. They just bought what they needed. Nevertheless, I am sure I have enough lined paper to last all three of mine through Jr. year in high school simply because the list was too generous for the last 9 years. In these tough economic times, more and more of us are salvaging from the prior year (such as spiral notebook paper, where we tear out the used pages and give the notebook back to continue using). One teacher, the religion teacher (it’s a catholic school), prefers the students use the same journal and notebook for all three years. They just leave them in the classroom over the summer to be picked up by their owners in the fall. Good planning, I think.

  15. bearyweather says:

    Great post.
    If school funding does not change, I am afraid these lists are just going to grow each year.

  16. kiscodad says:

    My niece’s teacher said to just bring in $30 and they’d buy all the supplies for them. At least my kids got to pick out their own and we got to teach them how to comparison shop and look for the best deal.

  17. groovychic75 says:

    Amen on this whole blog. Oh my! I was appalled at the fact that I had to buy my kindergartener a pair of $20 headphones (in addition to a long list similar to yours), which will apparently go into the community pool of supplies as well. I do hope I wasn’t the only sucker parent who actually bought this commodity, which will now be plugged into the only stereo I saw in the classroom……dang it, I probably was…..

  18. ryoko861 says:

    OMG, I just blogged about this kind of stuff, but on a more light hearted note. Just spent $88 on just SOME of the graphic art supplies my son needed for his first semester of college. That doesn’t include the books! Amazing isn’t? But I like YOUR list from teacher!! LMAO!

  19. My biggest complaint about getting this list is that we seem to get the list after everything has been bought at the store. They either wait until the week before school, or my son brings it home on the first day. Hello? How about sending out the list in August so I can actually find these items on the shelves.

  20. Steph says:

    Oiy…Out 4th grade list was just as bad, but add crayons, paper towels,dry erase markers and erasers, pens, and 1 subject notebooks in addition to your list. The first grade list was bad, but luckily the PTA did a box deal with Staples so you just shelled out the $32 and they deliver it to the classroom with his name on it. I must be a mean parent, if the backpack is not worn out with holes, or so dirty you can’t wash it, then use it for another year!! However, Spiderman is never an option, pick a color you can live with for a couple of years!!!

    • That’s funny. I never asked my kids what backpacks they wanted. I just bought run of the mill, and they carried them from K-5th grade. I would have kept going, but they were too small for middle school books and binders. But when I did buy again, I bought big enough to accomodate high school. Not planning on buying new bookbags again…

  21. Oh memories. As I neither have children, nor am in school any longer myself, I find myself looking fondly upon the fantastic days of back to school shopping. I try to avoid the Walmarts and Staples of the city during days like this, however when I do find myself in one, I smile broadly at the frazzled mother arguing with her daughter about how NOT cool she will look with THAT colour binder. When I started to purchase my own backpacks, I ended up with a new one every year (and this obsession has morphed into an overall bag obsession).

    I’m particularly a fan of the *real* teacher shopping list. I bet it would catch on quick if you suggested it to a few teachers you know…

  22. Evie Garone says:

    I remember those days! What fun!! Ha, ha! Just remember be careful what you wish for, I just sent both my boys off to college, and now it’s a little lonely around the house! Also, the books alone were $250 for one & $780 for the other, so get ready. Problems & costs just get bigger as the children do!Hhmmmm!

    • That reminds me of my nephew when he went to college. He was a music major at a music focused college. They had everything, and after he got there he found out he needed an Oboe. Ouch! Apparently they are one of the more expensive musical instruments, as used ones are in the thousands.

  23. CrystalSpins says:

    How much does that whole list of school supplies cost?


    • kiscodad says:

      Looking at the receipt and since we already had a few items at home I’d say it was a little over $30. Plus I have a first grader who had his own list…

  24. Samantha says:

    I seen these lists for all the schools in our area at a local Target and it blew my mind. Much like you that stuff was supplied for me at school. My daughter is one and I’m terrified to see what will be cut by the time she enters school. One of my favorite quotes that I heard in regards to schools cuts went something like this: Next time the air force needs a new plane let them hold a bake sale.
    Backpacks are another issue. This started going crazy when I was in High School. First we were allowed them, than they could only be a certain size (do to all the school shooting), than they needed to be clear (do to even more school shootings), and finally they were taken away all together.

  25. claireeee123 says:

    When i was in 5th grade.. that was basically the same list! And when i got to school.. The teachers took all my suplys! And by the end of the year, everything was gone! The kids should be able to keep there stuff and do what they want with it. not let the other classmate destroy your stuff that you paid money for! If they want to destroy a pair of scissors. Let it be their scissors, Not mine!

  26. LM says:

    The item that cracked me up on my daughter’s list last year was (2) USB Jump Drives. She was 11 at the time. I end up having to get her about 5 because what 11 year-old kid do you know that can keep track of teeny tiny jump drives.

  27. STLAVONLADY says:

    My daughter started 1st grade and several of the items on her list are questionable. I fear the older she gets the worse it will become. I have no problem buying things that I know my child will be using. Will your child really be using the post-it notes and the copy paper?

  28. Nice! Whatever happened to just paper and a writing utensil? Yes we send off our kids to school with all the stuff on the list and they have to hand it over to the teacher as well. Where is the justice?

  29. Victoria says:

    I SO hear you. I have a 5th grader and a 7th grader. I’m also in my last semester before I become a teacher myself. So, on one hand I think that the cuts made to education are disgraceful, but on the other hand…we just have to deal with it. And it sucks.

    If you can, buy things at 75% -90% off at the end of the Back to School rush and hang on to them, plus reuse the reusables. Take a look at what your child’s list for next year is. They’re usually all on the same page, but sometimes they’re not. If not, it’s pretty much all the same anyway.

    You’ll always need pencils, erasers, crayons, paper, composition books, 1 subject notebooks, folders in various colors (with prongs), and as they get up higher in the grades they’ll need a red pen for grading and regular pens. I try to get them to bring home scissors, pencil boxes and rulers at the end of the year to be cleaned up. We’ve been lucky so far in that. I don’t do character backpacks anymore. We do well-made solids or patterns, and they get used twice or more. Honestly, the quality of things has seriously deteriorated since we were kids. Mine somehow destroy backpacks within the 9+ months they’re in school. I don’t get it. Anyway, good luck! I loved your supply list for teachers 🙂

  30. Chelle says:

    I remember my school lists were similar. But we usually had a lot of it on hand from the year before. My mom would buy like 20-30 spiral notebooks when they would be on sale for around 5-10 cents each and that would last me a good two or three years. Same with folders. Buy a pack of them when they are like $1 for 10 or so. But after awhile I just started taking the same markers & colored pencils back with me. They didn’t care if they were new as long as they worked. My biggest peeve was (even when I was in middle school) when they told us we needed a notebook, folder, and some looseleaf paper for each and every class. Then half my different classes notes could easily be put into a single 5 subject notebook.

    The copy paper, post its, and 3 packs of a dozen pencils seems a bit excessive to me. But it’s been a few years since I had to get school supplies. Good luck!

  31. kiscodad says:

    I also believe that the local Target still donates a portion of their sales to the local schools…

  32. loooty says:

    LOL .. what a huge list

    I don’t know where are u from .. I’m from Saudi Arabia and YES we bring the same stuff for kids every year ..

    and I realized after I entered University that teachers are making these trouble .. they ask children to bring this and that .. and no excuses ..

    my art teacher at the intermediate school were really tough ..

    I was spend about 1000 riyal every semester only for her course ..

    she was asking for proffesional materials and it was expensive !!


  33. Piper Bayard says:

    Great post! I was thrilled when my son’s list for high school was only a few notebooks, a calculator, and some pens. Then I found out that we have to print out his science books on our own computers. And, instead of supplies, they want money. LOTS of it. The worst, though–he signed up to play football, and it seems the whole family is expected to join a cult of endless cash donations, decorated stadiums, and group-funded tailgate parties. I’ll take my reputation as a football deadbeat, thank you. Thanks for bringing humor to this emotionally and financially trying time of the year.

  34. LOL! I feel your pain! I ran all over the city looking for specific water colour paints! Five stores later, no luck…I guess they will just have to make do with typcial crayola paints!

  35. I actually got a note back from my son’s kindergarten teacher that I was to buy him crayola crayons because the red is really red and not pinkish. And we were to buy volume control headphones. $17 a pop and I have three kids in school. Not happening.

  36. Harry Jones says:

    Boy do I agree with you, and this isn’t even private school. What the heck does “Public” mean. Check out our lineup: 1st grader, 4th grader, 7th grader (starting a new middle school) and ………drum roll please………a 12th grader, yep that’s right a senior in high school. Can you say on the door step of college. I agree it will be quieter but at what cost. Bottom line I love my kids but saving for college while they are in elementary, middle school and high school almost makes it impossible. Good luck to all the parents of the 2010 school year.

  37. Pingback: Maybe Parents Should Just Say No « Highonhomeschool's Blog

  38. MrsOdie2 says:

    Two bottles of prescription pain killers? You realize the school year is NINE months long, right?

  39. miraclemama says:

    I just received my son’s second grade list (he was lucky not to have one at all last year) I was stumped at the tissues request. But, I see you have to provide three boxes. I feel better now. My son also has a backpack addiction. He wanted yet another one this year (Transformers is so lame now) and I directed him to the basement closet where they’ve multiplied.

  40. onesoybean says:

    I’m on my way to college, but a lot of my happiest memories from my child hood was school shopping. So yeah, I needed new binders every year… And Ticonderoga is the best pencil brand (with the best erasers), yet the most expensive.
    School shopping is my favorite kind of shopping. Though, I understand most parents’ anger and frustration.
    So here is my thank you to all the parents that put up with the driving to Target and grabbing their child’s notebook in his or her favorite color. Thank you ^-^

  41. I can’t believe you didn’t have to send in one box of tissues and one roll of paper towels and one box of baby wipes! Baby wipes! And my son is going into middle school! (Apparently, they use them to get the dry erase markers off the kids hands!) We also had to supply a flash drive last year (5th grade). That was $20 right there.

    I was pretty happy when I made it out of the store for $42 this year. My best advice, take an inventory of what you actually have before you go and buy all new. Colored pencils? Um, I think he used them about 6 times last year, so I just stuck them in a baggie. He doesn’t need new ones. We had some old Composition notebooks around, and if you find them for 1 penny, stock up: teachers love them forever.

    I am a teacher myself, and even I dread the shopping list!

    • kiscodad says:

      Paper towels, wipes, dry erase markers and hand sanitizer were on my my 1st grader’s list. We’ll need a flash drive for 6th grade…luckily we have a few already.

  42. Betty says:

    Holy crap. I don’t have kids, so I had no idea that parents are given lists these days. I made the mistake of walking into Staples the other day simply to pick up two items. It was a nightmare. Whenever I go to this particular Staples, there’s rarely more than one register open and that’s sufficient. This time, every single register was open and I still had to wait in line.

  43. Kristen says:

    My son’s 6th grade list…

    “#2 pencils(mechanical OK), red ink pen, ruler with metric/standard, scissors, 1 permanent glue stick, eraser, 5 pkgs. Wide-lined loose–leaf paper, 2 one subject spiral notebooks, colored pencils, 2 extra fine point black sharpies(one for class one for art), 1 pkg. index cards, highlighters, protractor (see through is best), compass, 1 pack dry erase markers, invisible tape, ½” or 1” binder, 8 tab dividers, 6 folders with prongs (2 red, 1green, 1 yellow, 2 any color), 5-10 sheet protectors, 2 boxes tissues, 1 roll paper towels, 1 container Clorox wipes, 1 box Ziploc bags(boys), 1 container hand sanitizer(girls), 1 four pack C Alkaline only batteries(music), one ream colored paper for copier”

    This is a public elementary school in middle class suburbia.
    Last year they specified brand names (Crayola only, Elmer’s glue only, Expo markers only, etc) but they backed off of that this year. Too much backlash?

  44. hotmommas says:

    Hilarious! This is like the opposite of “in my day” – because “in our day” there were school supplies!

  45. Acai says:

    i love this. perfect point, why don’t you buy the desk, chair, you might as well pay the teacher directly! It is sad how our schools have no money to buy supplies any more…

  46. Angelia Sims says:

    What’s hell is trying to get in and out of the high school -amongst the mulitude of 16yr old drivers – alive. Back to school hell indeed! 😀

    Our elementary schools sold pre-packaged school items. Made it a lot easier! Pay $20 and it’s on their desk the first day. Congrats on being freshly pressed. 🙂

  47. Jen says:

    I am 30 and my elementary school lists were similar to this… but I always seemed to be the only one with a full desk and we never actually used all the items. The only thing that definitely got used were the boxes of Kleenex, which were kept by the teacher and used by everyone throughout the year.

    It seems like some of the things — like the marble composition books and pencils — could be purchased over the course of the year, as needed? Or at least kept at home, instead of taken to school on the first day. And certainly some of those things should be able to be used every year (like the ruler), assuming the teachers don’t all demand different brands or kinds. The whole thing is a little ridiculous.

    Of course, I know of a public high school at which students have to pay for their own diplomas — and they’re a lot more expensive than pencils. Something is very wrong with the way we fund our schools.

  48. Paige Morgan says:

    My son’s class just collected $6 from each student – how did I get off so easy this year??? However, as you said, I will get more requests throughout the year.

    If your suggested list was a reality, we might have more teahcers! Bery funny!

  49. TamrahJo says:

    I have fond memories, too, of not having to give my self permanent back damage by dragging a back-pack along with me through school.
    And I remember a must shorter supply list too.
    I also remember when a ‘free public education’ was literally true.
    My mom and dad wrote checks so I could have a hot lunch at school
    Hubby and I wrote a check for $150 just to get 7th grade son paid up to attend local public school – this is before any extracurricular activities.
    It’s all ridiculous to me.
    I will say the school I attended and where my mom still works has their you-know-what together –
    I paid $11 to help with insurance fees for my son to participate in football.
    That’s it….
    From insider knowledge, I’ve come to believe my local school administration just isn’t as good with finances as my school was and is.
    Instead of griping about teacher wages, etc., perhaps we should be asking more appropriate questions about the budgeting and fiscal responsibility skills of the superintendents.

    • kiscodad says:

      Our school district recently fired a Superintendent with several years left on her contract (details were not made public) and sent her off with around $650k in walking money in addition to her more than $250k salary…oh and free lifetime health care for her and her family.

      My sister’s kids will have to pay $225 each annually to ride their school bus from grades 7-12.

  50. sayitinasong says:

    Love it! I actually work in a school… so that did make me chuckle… in our school scissors are banned- somewhat surprised to find that on your list…lol… (this was after a scissor incident that resulted into a bloody earlobe…)

  51. Three boxes of tissues? Are they expecting a lot of weeping?

  52. josephine says:

    EXACTLY! And you got off easy…We had Expo Dry Erase Markers, 1 Saprano Recorder, index cards, wipes, Ziploc bags, paper towels, sock for the dry erase board, red ink pens, basically stocking the classroom because the schools don’t have the money to buy the basic supplies! Our schools doesn’t have a lunch room, so the lunches are catered in and not free. Save the ruler for next year.

  53. pbandchutney says:

    Unbelievable! And the amount of detail in that list is insane. It’s like punishment for parents who are itching for relief when the kids actually start school and it’s the teacher’s turn to deal with them.

  54. woldham says:

    “when I was in school . . .”

    Why does every dad, grand dad and great grand dad start off with that expression?

    Maybe it is something to do with male memories.

    Regards, Bill

    PS I did enjoy reading your post.

  55. Abby says:

    I used to be a teacher and think your list is much better – by the time the teacher is through the alcohol and onto the pain killers, all they’ll be thinking about is their frequent flyer miles, and who cares if the kid doesn’t have a glue stick?!

  56. brookeaziz says:

    Great article! The latest I hear is now more schools are requiring parents to pay for kids to participate in extracurricular activities and sports – that’s crazy! Public schools are supposed to be equal opportunity, not a place for “haves” and “have-nots”! It’s a sad sign of the times…

  57. As a confirmed Staples/Target junkie, I started buying school supplies in early July. I found lots of great sales and may have bought enough stuff to get my girls through next year as well. All those gel pens and notebooks just call to me of things I have yet to write and create. To me they represent possibilities rather than obligations.

    I think back in “the good old days” the PTA may have used some of their funds to pay for classroom supplies. This is not the case in most places today. When my mother was a high school teacher she got a $50 budget for each school year and had to provide receipts to prove she had used the money appropriately.

    My older daughter teaches elementary school in NC and is given no funding at all to supply her classroom. It’s all on the students and many of those families simply have too little money to buy all the supplies on the list. Thus my daughter winds up shelling out some of her paltry paycheck so that the kids have what they need.

    My advice, shop the sales all year round and pack the stuff away. Know that teaching a glass full of other people’s children takes a great deal of patience and commitment. Be a little understanding that some of the extra supplies you send may help out a less fortunate child.

    Thanks for the great post!

  58. inkgwen says:

    LoL…what happens if the student shows up with only pens, paper and backpack? Do they get banned from the class for not paying their tissue and sticky note dues???

  59. What happens if you refuse to send in the supplies to be handed over to your child’s teacher – would they bar your child from attending class? How is the demand for “community supplies” enforced? -Jen

    • kiscodad says:

      I’ll send my 5th grader in empty handed and report back to you… 😉

      • I just blogged about this very thing – why can’t parents just say no to the supply list?? What’s to stop us from doing so? I think it’s a great idea. Maybe parents can ban together and make school districts manage their dollars more efficiently by boycotting supply lists!

  60. frenchmajor says:

    The list hasn’t changed much at all from when I went into 5th grade 10 years ago, only back then we got to keep everything we bought except the boxes of tissues.

    Now I’m half way through my undergrad degree at college and the supply list has shifted from the classroom to the dorm room/apartment. Almost everything listed on college supply lists are for their dorm room. The sad part is they don’t need most of that stuff. Shopping for the room and school supplies on top of tuition, fees, room and board and other things like certain sports just gets more expensive.

  61. Chrissy says:

    I am a teacher and I have to buy all of the supplies for my students. Pens, papers, note cards, crayons, scissors, you name it. And realistically if you work in a school district with a high population of low socioeconomic status kids, as I do, the kids will come to school with nothing. I’ve spent probably 200 dollars already, and we just starting school on Monday. These class lists, while semi-ridiculous, really help ease the monetary burden of teaching.

    • kiscodad says:

      Seems unfair that teachers should have to pay out of pocket for their own standard supplies. Where does all the money go? Must be those six figure teacher salaries…if only.

  62. jdschaefer says:

    I remember the cringing looks my parents would give my back to school lists…and I don’t recall a class ever going through the 30+ boxes of tissues we were ‘required’ to supply. If you need motivation for the back to school blues, check out the current ‘Back to School’ pep talk series from and get the year started off right!

  63. h3steve says:

    lol I totally agree with you

  64. bachic says:

    Wow… we used to have to buy a specific type of trapper keeper from the school so that everyone had the same one and there were no arguments (private elementary that is). Once I got to high school we brought in a pen and notebook the first day and took supply lists in class- most of the time it was a notebook or two- one or two teachers who collected notebooks required a specific type. They supplied everything else- tissues included. My public school friends had much the same experience, but they were allowed to buy the cool trapper keepers (this is of course when trapper keepers were cool…) we had three computers in the library in high school… and I didn’t even have a flash drive in college!

    I developed scoliosis in high school (and am still living with it- it never goes away once you get it) partly due to the weight of my book-bag (carried daily while I was still going through growth spurts). Make sure as your kids get older they get one with good padding, good balance, and they WEAR BOTH STRAPS. You do not want to have to deal with the back problems I deal with later in life just because you were an honors student with a lot of homework. You can develop scoliosis at any point in time until you are done growing. They stopped checking in my school after the 7th grade.

    I graduated just before the public schools in my area started requiring clear bags/ banning book bags due to bomb threats or whatever violence there was. I had the same bag from Freshman year high school to sophomore year college (when finally the bottom ripped out completely) and I currently have it’s replacement from Sophomore year (If I go, I’ll attend my five year reunion with it this May). Book bags last a while if you take care of them… even with 50 lbs of books in them!

  65. Costa says:

    As mean as it sounds, but you know a good way to cut down on what you have to spend on school supplies?

    Get involved in local politics and your local school board. Get involved in how much your local community spends money meant for education, like high school sports or electronic signs or school buses. Make your voice as a parent heard!

  66. Owen says:

    This is probably THE most realistic school supply list I’ve EVER read

  67. admin says:

    What a wonderful post! You know, I had forgotten all about that. The scissors, all that good stuff, WAS at school! Thanks for jogging my memory…my oh my how times have changed.

  68. BakerTray says:

    What a wonderful post!

  69. jenkline75 says:

    Your post is sooo true. My sons are in 4th and 1st grades and our lists look a lot like yours with a few other things added. It’s amazing to me that we have gotten to this point. I really don’t mind supplying the things my kids are going to use (crayons, markers, pencils, etc) in their learning process but when they start asking for tissues and toilet paper…that’s a little insane!

  70. pajamadays says:

    And what happened to the days that paper grocery bags were acceptable book covers? Now the teachers request those stupid book socks! I had to buy 7 book covers this year – holy mother of crankiness.

    – Emily

  71. Awesome post! You really had me laughing out loud. I heard one school was requesting toilet paper. Times are tough and I’m just praying they get better before my child enters the school system!

  72. rtcrita says:

    Uggh! I feel for you. I am so glad those days are over for me! My son is a senior in High School now and my daughter is in college.

    I quit buying all those supplies around the time the kids got to the middle of their grade school years. The teachers would send little notes home or make my son feel like a criminal for not bringing in THREE boxes of Kleenix. I refused. He didn’t even use that kind of tissue due to his allergies. I sent him to school with his own tissue in a baggie when he needed it. He told me they needed it in case they ran out of toilet paper! I told him, “Then I’ll put a roll in your backpack for YOU to use ONLY!” They went to school with the basics–paper, pencil (2) and a pen. I would send a binder, but it was the kind I saw fit. If they needed something else during the year, I went and bought it for them (Because half the time I found out they weren’t even using all of those colored folders. The teachers would save the left over ones for the following year!).

    I didn’t like the explanation the teachers gave me that they put everything in a community place so no one looses their pencils or can give the excuse they have no paper (Because some kids wasted theirs drawing cartoons instead of paying attention. And lets not even talk about the germ factor!). It really angered me that because some other parents might not be teaching their children how to be responsible and respect the things their parents worked hard to pay for, that I was suppose to pay the price (literally) for making sure they had supplies to do their school work with by buying so much more extra than my own child needed. A whole pack of pencils (12) for one school year?! Really?! I had two when I went to school, in case one broke while I was in the middle of doing work and couldn’t get up to sharpen it. Besides, I was a single parent. We don’t buy EXTRA anything!

    I’m glad you could find some humor in this situation. Because it takes a lot of humor to get through the school years, believe me! 🙂

  73. solshards says:

    As a student, I personally do not like going shopping for new school supplies unless it’s absolutely needed, I tend to just reuse the same supplies from last year, provided that the binders and pens are still in working conditions, therefore I am not caught up in the hassle of back-to-school shopping. 😀

  74. Wow! This is all beyond me. Never had lists. Never had a back pack until College. Then I had to jerry rig one because the only backpacks were those used for hiking.
    Don’t believe my kids had lists either. (they’re in their 30’s now) But they did use backpacks
    Don’t like these lists? Don’t like paying for extra supplies? Then demand taxes be raised. Keep in mind that a good education is beneficial to the whole community, not just the student. We should be willing to pay for it as a society. As said above: You want a new B2 Bomber? have a bake sale!

  75. rah86 says:

    I’m a soon-to-be teacher and I’ve had the oh-so-unfortunate “honor” of seeing where funds are placed in schools. The real reason, in my humble opinion, that we no longer are able to fund the basic supplies is because of the incredible amount of technology that schools need to fund. Back when I was a child, computers were unheard of in schools. Now, it’s almost a requirement.

    Additionally, the school district my youngest brother currently attends has an amazing pay package for the superintendent. They imported him from another district, paid all of his moving expenses and such, and are currently paying him 1.5 times what his other district was paying him. The saddest part of it is, that district was doing poorly to begin with and I’m not entirely certain he’s not the cause of our dropping test score rates over the past two years.

    The Department of Education, in all its levels, needs to begin a systematic look at where funds are placed and who they pay exorbitant payrolls to. There is simply no need to use tax-paid Bond Issue funds to put AstroTurf on high school football fields when it could be used for new windows at the alternative school.

    • kiscodad says:

      I don’t know as much about our Superintendent as much as I know about our Principal and Teachers, but I do know they do an excellent job and deserve every penny if not more. I’ve always been wary of the person at the top of the totem pole of ANY organization…absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    • offeringmyownconfusion says:

      It worries me a little that a soon-to-be teacher does not see the need of technology in schools. No, maybe computers were unheard of when you were a child, but technology skills are skills that students need in today’s worldare essential in student’s educations today.

      I am not a teacher, or even part of the education system, except for the fact that I am a parent of students and hope they get the best education they can receive. Every organization, business, needs to continue to look at where the funds are being placed; but teachers are really underpaid for the work they do, and superintendents should be paid well, but paid such as long as they perform well.

      Good luck on your new career, having spent countless hours volunteering in schools, I know you have a challenging road ahead of you, and respect you for devoting yourself to such a career!

  76. jcdeacons says:

    Um, my mother won’t go by the list at school. As a matter of fact, she rants every time it comes out. She’ll buy all the stuff on the list but she does not send it all to school. In her mind it’s not her job to put kids she didn’t have through school. And I quote, “Their parents need to work sixty hours a week like I do, and send their kids to school with the things they need.” Sigh. I can’t say I disagree with her too much. So every year she sends the kids to school with enough stuff in their bags just for them, and she writes their names on everything. And every year she get’s a dirty letter from the teacher. Too bad they don’t know that every year she flies them the bird, and saves about a hundred bucks.

  77. cheneetot08 says:

    I remember before when I was still studying days like these were my worst nightmare. I’d rather skip a day and move on to the next day rather than going through this day. 😦

  78. There are many things wrong with systems like the above. The possibly worst: It is immensely wasteful. If schools, not parents, where to buy these items, it could be done in bulk (a lot cheaper), possibly even with a VAT reduction; the working time needed would be reduced to a fraction; many items could be re-used the next term; the number of items needed per class would likely be reduced (say, three “public” scissors instead of thirty “private”); etc.

  79. fallnangel says:

    Ah, so glad I am done supply shopping and can sit here enjoying how quiet it is when they are back in school!

  80. Nathalie says:

    It’s kind of been like this since before I was a kid. And for me that was 17 years ago. School supply lists have been getting more and more eccentric and involved and the first place parents want to point is in the teacher’s direction. Teachers hardly have an income that allows for the incurred costs of over 150 students every year, in school supplies alone. But many teachers still bear minor school supply costs here and there, simply to improve the quality of learning. The school budget used to accomodate for these things but ever since they realized that running a beauracracy is more of a money maker than teaching in one, school supplies have been absent from the budget, if not ghosts.

    Thank teachers for the smallest contributions they make.

    • kiscodad says:

      Parents have to be the ones to stand up for the teachers here. In today’s day and age a teacher could get fired for speaking their mind on such an issue.

  81. Steph says:

    My kids’ school system always adds the comment,”in case of financial hardship please contact the principal.” Okay..maybe I will do just that! Does that mean I can forget the trip to Staples and the like and gathering up all the supplies, and just say I can’t afford them, or don’t want to afford them?? I would love to have the nerve to say that I could not afford them, and see what the alternative really is! My daughter is the first to report if someone has the incorrect item, or not at all…I will have her be on the lookout this year!!

  82. raisingable says:

    I used to fight with my four children every Sept. over their extensive back to school lists as I tried to get them to scale back or use what we had on hand.
    Then the special algebraic calculator made the list – at a cool $85 or more. AAACK!
    When my son got his driver’s license, I gave them my credit card and sighed and let them do the shopping while I was at work.
    Children are expensive.

  83. raisingable says:

    Kisco Dad- how do you contact you by email?
    Would you review a book on parenting — on chores and more?
    susan at susantordella dot com

  84. Megan Miller says:

    My list is similar to this. Not quite so specific with the colors of folders, but similar all the same. Why do I do it? Well if I didn’t the supplies would come out of my very poorly funded, “classroom funds” which we get $225 a year for supplies and $50 during the year to spend if we “need” anything. Now you may be thinking that is a lot of money, sure it is. But if I bought all the little things (pencils, paper, etc. ) I would have next to nothing to spend on learning materials, lesson plans, books, etc. As my classroom has no “curriculum” per say because I am in special ed. and have to tailor every lesson to every child’s individual IEP, I do not have the standard “math book” or “science book”. So I start from scratch and have to come up with everything on my own..

    I would say that 50% or MORE of my classroom materials were purchased out of my own pocket because the classroom funds didnt cover what I felt I needed to teachthese children! To top it off, buying Education materials is not CHEAP! The average “workbook” cost anywhere from $15 – $30. The average “Unit” plan book with worksheets cancost anywhere from $50 – over $500 depending on what it is. So as you can see, it isn’t cheap from my perspective.

    Knowing my stlye and how I teach, I would not want to give up those lessons to buy “the little stuff” so I enlist the parents to do so. Often times I have students who cannot afford to get everything on the list so I tell them to get what they can and either I or one of my teacher’s Aides will purchase the rest. OR I try to find people in the community or other parents of my students to donate extra “stuff” to help out.

    I understand that times are tuff and that jobs are hard to come by! Schools are the same, we have to squeeze every nickel to get the most for that nickel.

    So I Thank You for purchasing all the “little things” your child is going to need for this year! I’m sure your child’s teacher appreciates it as well!

  85. Oh, this is hilarious. I remember bringing home school lists and begging my parents to buy school stuff for me—and they always refused except for the bare essentials. It was a good move, a bunch of the stuff on the list were totally unnecessary. I at least felt cool with my Sailor Moon backpack.

  86. offeringmyownconfusion says:

    I hate to say this, but wait until middle school! There are that many supplies (plus a few more) for the main curriculum, then an entire back side of lists for the other courses. Not to mention band, sports, and the extra c’s you child may want to take afterwards. But the truth is, times are tough, for the schools, teachers, and families. Just know that hopefully, your child is getting the best education they can have..

  87. Kelly Hay says:

    Funny post! Particularly the second “list.” I have a daughter in high school and a son in college so our “lists” include things like ridiculously expensive graphing calculators and the latest, greatest laptops. *Sigh*

  88. SallyK says:

    How I DON’T miss buying school supplies! Even the during the year request can be a pain. I remember one year, 2 days before an art project, a note was sent home that my son needed a plain white T-Shirt for tye-dye. By the time I got to the stores, every plain white T-Shirt in my son’s size was gone! So his turned into a nightshirt. A friend of mine told me each of her 4 kids came home this week with 10 page “info” sheets to fill out and return. HER homework for a few nights!

  89. summerfey says:

    Haha, wowza! At least when they get into middle school you wont have to worry about markers and crayons (unless their like me and have a fixation with these, ahaha). Good luck! 😛

  90. Katie says:

    I liked your point. The new list for teachers was pretty funny. 🙂 But I’d like to say that I’ve learned kind of how these school supply lists work over the years, at least in my area. I’m a junior in high school, and I can say with confidence that every year in my experience those generic grade lists are useless. In elementary school, what you really need is the basics, plus a few specific teacher-requested items during the school year. In middle school and high school, you should wait until the first day of school, when teachers give you their individual lists that only list the things the students actually need. All those tissue boxes, quantities of rainbow folders, and armies of composition notebooks are unnecessary. I never even use composition notebooks or folders – I just keep my stuff neatly organized in binders that I use year after year. These back-to-school generic grade lists are just like let’s-see-if-we-can-think-of-everything-the-kids-could-possibly-use-during-the-school-year lists. Even so, I see your point. But I seriously can’t imagine all the obvious basics like paper and pencils being available in the classroom! That would be so cool… All my school life I’ve had to be self-sufficient with the bare basics.

    • kiscodad says:

      Ahh but this IS the teacher list and not the generic list. I wonder if maybe the teacher just added a few things to the generic list….or was told to.

  91. I think that buying all of this stuff should be totally unnecessary: most of your list is made up of stuff that the schools should provide themselves. I assume your kid is of elementery school age, so when I was that old I didn’t have to take ANYTHING to school: no pencils, pens, paper, nothing.

    Well, times are tough I guess but it’s a bit scary. On the plus side, we never had good glue or any scissors that would cut, so at least they’ll be getting those!

  92. kiscodad says:

    My wife made an interesting observation while discussing this. Last year we had scissors on the Kindergarten and 4th grade lists. Therefore we KNOW that those classrooms had 25 pairs of scissors. Where did they go? We didn’t get ours back. Yet the teachers in those classrooms have them on their lists again this year. I’m going to check Ebay for teachers selling large quantities of scissors 🙂

  93. Stacy says:

    This is great! I definitely like the idea of adding alcohol to the school supply list. Recommendations should at least be featured in the parent handbook. I had my own kind of @##% in “Broken Promises” ( if you want to check it out. Great to hear a funny Dad’s perspective on your blog.

  94. smftw07 says:

    I can’t believe your kids teacher is asking for so many things! Most of the things on that list is usually provided by the school. Although, just be happy your kid isn’t in college and you’re buying his books for classes.

  95. andreatte says:

    I am absolutely floored as well. I have two high school students and here is “Some” of the things on their list………..really? And now we have to provide Kleenex, wipes, sanitizer, post-it’s etc for the teachers use….i am already $300+ and not even close to done…just on supplies!

    12 – #2 Pencils
    2 – Glue Sticks
    1 – White Glue
    1 – Pink Erasers
    1 – White Eraser
    1 – Pkg. Washable Felt Markers
    1 – Pair Scissors
    1 – Pencil Case
    10 – Pocket Folders
    2 – Pkg. Lined Paper
    1 – Pkg. Plain Paper
    10 – Blue Pens
    3 – Red Pens
    1 – Ruler
    1 – Pkg. Pencil Crayons
    2 – 1″ Binders
    8 – Subject Dividers
    1 – Scientific Calculator
    1 – Geometry Set
    1 – Pocket Dictionary
    1 – Thesaurus
    1 – Pencil Sharpener
    3 – Highlighter Pens
    1 – Agenda Book/Student Planner
    1 – Stapler
    1 – Staple Remover
    1 – Bottle Correction Fluid
    1-4 gig USB drive
    1-package of Tissue
    1-bottle of hand sanitizer

  96. It is pretty ridiculous how many school supplies kids need nowadays.

  97. Rose says:

    What, no Kleenex on that list? I recall when my children were in public they had to supply their own Kleenex too.

  98. Need a box of tissue’s.

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