A while back, I had an unplanned conversation with an old friend about the expense of sending kids to school. Not having children myself, I don’t have first-hand experience with the costs involved, but I am smart enough to know that it costs a lot to raise a child. In fact, that’s the number one thing I hear my friends talk about – just how much money it costs! But my conversation with my friend was about the cost of school supplies they needed to purchase per the teacher’s request, because the public school district couldn’t afford to supply the items the classroom needed. We weren’t talking a lot of money here; rather, we were probably talking about maybe $40-$50 in supplies, or just enough to have enough on hand for their kid and to help cover the costs for those who truly couldn’t afford to spend the money. My friends have enough money to spend $50 on school supplies, especially considering that their kids go to free (taxpayer supported) public school. And yet, here I was listening to them complain about having to buy supplies with statements like:
A. the taxes they already pay should cover it
B. the teacher shouldn’t need this much stuff
C. they shouldn’t have to help cover the poor kids
I was absolutely flabbergasted by their attitude about not only spending a pretty minute amount of money, but also that they were doing so over money needed for their child’s education. For a family who definitely has the money to spend, taking issue with buying a few dollars in school supplies for their own and some needy kids seems misguided. That could be the end of the story, and I still would have been sitting there with a gaping mouth, but it wasn’t, because the week before this conversation happened one of their FB status updates was…
“Just installed our new 50” flat-screen TV in the living room. Bring on Monday Night Football!”
I’m not kidding. It’s not that they spent the money on the TV that annoyed me, as I myself have a big flat-screen TV in my living room, and it was worth the money. It’s that just a week later they were taking issue with spending $50 on school supplies for their child’s education! They would rather either have the kids go without supplies or have the teacher making $25,000 per year buy the supplies for their kids than shell out a few bucks to help out the classroom.
It really seems to me that our priorities have gotten truly screwed up, and I don’t know how we can get them back in line. Conservatives are no longer fiscally conservative, Liberals are no longer socially liberal, and I have friends who value spending cash on a new flat-screen TV more than they value buying pencils for their children. Education used to be an important value we all shared, but now it’s the first thing cut when it’s time to chop up the budget. When I went to school, I had music, art, drama, woodworking, and assorted other classes, along with a daily recess and gym period. Now, lots of kids barely get a recess and have lost all the extracurricular activities that help to form what kind of adult they will become. And some parents don’t even want to chip in a few bucks to help out. Our priorities are so out of whack.
What are your opinions on this? Am I right to feel this way, or am I making this into something much bigger than it needs to be? When it comes to kids, I really think we should be making sure they get everything they need to be a success in life, even if we need to cut back on other things in life in order to do so. What do you think?