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The Principles of School Supplies

Friends with kids: Here is why you need to buy the school supplies and (try) not to complain. Also titled, "Response to the Lady Saying Horrible Things in the School Supply Aisle".

1. In my 25 years in education across 3 states, I have NEVER seen a supply added to a list frivolously. Teachers are notoriously frugal and reasonable. If it is on the list, they need it.

2. Please don't question 10 glue sticks. When you volunteer in a classroom with 26 5 year olds creating the ultimate plant cycle representation, you will understand.

3. Teachers are paid a shamefully low salary. In many, many schools, teachers end up buying supplies with their OWN money. Sorry....but nothing you can say will make this "ok". It is unacceptable. (And why I give a decent amount over to teacher-controlled classroom budgets)

4. Your “I pay taxes and shouldn't have to pay more to schools/education” philosophy is bunk. Your taxes are barely keeping schools a float across the US. Do you really want me to choose hiring as many staff members as I can and keeping class size down, or absorbing all costs of school supplies? I will always invest in people over "stuff".

5. Let's talk about buying some Kleenex to share. Your math is correct. Your teacher should get about 50 boxes from the supply lists for the year. And you know what? By the time they share with Music, Art, PE, Media, and the office, we will have NO TISSUES in the building by April. True story. Please trust us (see #1).

6. "Shouldn't have to buy extras for kids who can't afford it." You are right. You don't. But if you "can", I hope you do. Giving to others with no expectation of recognition or return is a gift I wish for everyone.

7. If your lists have something strange on it, ask about it! Understanding why your child needs a "blue 1-inch three ring binder" will only help you reinforce the expectation of use at home.

8. Do you really have to buy the "brand" listed? Your teachers are requesting a certain brand because they have seen 42 varieties and feel THIS ONE is the best. You want to save money and go with Rose Art over Crayola? Go for it. Seriously. Your kids will survive and the teacher won't hate you. (I speak from experience here...)

And one final thought...if you cannot manage the whole list now, simply let your teacher know. Let them know you can't now, or even simply can't. Happens all the time. Teachers

will appreciate knowing and that item will be supplied. Because in a few short weeks, we will take care of your kids like they are our own.

Kristin W. Stolte has 25 years’ experience in education. She is currently the principal at Linton Elementary in Fort Collins, CO. She is also the President of the Colorado Association of Elementary School Principals and the NAESP representative for Colorado


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