Dear Teacher: Get Real

Mr/Ms Teacher:

As you are no doubt aware, each of your students has 5 other classes. Each of these classes has their own supply requirements, although some things like “pencils” and “notebook paper” are universal. There is only a 5 minute or so passing period between your class and the previous or next class. While it seems like many schools are set up with an area dedicated to students at one particular grade, the fact remains that some of your students will have classes in another part of the building (such as gym, choir, art, or foreign language) and not have an opportunity to visit their respective lockers during some passing periods. Furthermore, it is highly likely that a student might have homework in multiple subjects, requiring that quite a few things be taken home.

These are things that I would have thought obvious to a professional in your position. However, it seems clear that some teachers have not considered the idea that students might have no choice but to carry supplies for multiple subjects at once. I can think of no other explanation for the extraordinary supply lists that have come home for the last several years, including fact that several of your colleagues each require a minimum 1″ binder, and a couple have required 2-3″ three ring binders.

Really? They need that much stuff for one class? Do you really think it’s important for them to carry around every scrap of paper issued in your class from now until June? Is every assignment, every graded quiz, every set of scribbled class notes of such critical importance? Can’t we use this opportunity to teach prioritization? Frankly, I didn’t need multiple 3″ binders per semester in graduate school!

Further, there is the issue of space and weight. These are still kids we are talking about. There is a finite amount of physical room in their book bags, and heaven forbid they should need to cram a book in there. Experts recommend that they put no more than 10-15% of their bodyweight in a backpack — including the weight of the bag itself. Let’s say for the sake of argument that these kids weigh the same 120 pounds I do. That means no more than 12-18 pounds. Have you considered putting your required supplies on a scale to see how much you are contributing to the load? The 500 sheets of paper that will fit in just one of those 3″ binders is 5 pounds alone.

Please understand that I don’t even want to address the expense of all these supplies despite the fact that 1 in 5 American workers is living paycheck to paycheck. I consider myself fortunate that I can just go out and get all this stuff without worrying about whether I can pay all my bills.

Just do parents a favor and think about the whole picture rather than your one class when preparing your list of required supplies.

In Closing: On illegal immigration: on the broken mess we euphemistically call an economy; the chicken sexers of Japan; why doesn’t Bernanke know??; insurance companies scramble to raise prices before somebody tries to institute price controls, results in people talking about price controls who weren’t before; I told you the mandate was a screw-job; shut up and do what you’re told, authority figures are the enemy, and other things we are inadvertently teaching children; energy; click for the first paragraph, stay for the rest; the first dinner party; the miracle farms of Brazil; and fast food.