I packed up my kids backpacks last night with all the supplies that they were required to get - seemed like a lot for elementary age children and in some ways so different then my supply lists.
I actually like buying school supplies, always did. I like the smell and the crack of a new marble notebook, wish they had the variety of colors they have now when I was a kid. These composition notebooks always remind me of English classes, which I loved, and of journal keeping which was my therapy, memory keeper and at times even the version of text that we had before cell phones were an option. I used to love those denim bound 3 ring binders that I could draw on - bubble letters, the bands I liked Led Zep's ZOFO sign comes to mind. I also have always loved a good pen. Some of these have carried with me as an adult - I buy my own notebooks for work and they are rarely the conventional kind, I do not write in black ink if possible and a good blue, not fine point, pen of any kind is still my favorite. I do like colors too and for some reason for a while I was into mechanical pencils. I guess as someone who is a writer none of this is that surprising.
As I packed up their supplies the things that struck me as quintessentially different were things that in my school world had no existence. I would never had to bring paper towels and tissue boxes to school - even in broke, brink of bankruptcy NYC public school that I first went to. I would not have had to bring chalk - my kids don't bring chalk either since they no longer use blackboards in their schools and have always had smartboards in their classrooms (admitting am bit jealous) but they do have to bring dry erase markers - or blackboard erasers. Even in a school district with good funding, good teacher salaries these things still are not bought by the schools? I cannot imagine what happens with areas where there is underfunding. I know they most likely do not have smartboards or even the limited class sizes that my kids have but these are basic supplies that many of those communities also cannot afford to buy for their kids.
As I packed up their backpacks I thought a lot of these things - if we want to help our society become better we need to ensure that the funding is better managed by all areas of the government that have it and that our kids are the special interest group that all politicians have to be taking care of. A society that provides quality accessible education is one that prospers for all. I did not do the ice bucket challenge nor will I , great how much money they raised here's to hoping the ALS charity uses most of it for people who need it not on fundraising, but I am challenging myself in an election year to keep aware of who is running and who to vote for from local on up based on the issues that are important to me. Education begins at home, is enhanced in schools and is carried forward by the students.
Good luck to all students - good luck to all teachers and thank you - good luck to all parents who will have to help drive, encourage, tutor and keep filling the kids as much as the backpacks with all that they need.