Schools Supplies on a Big Scale

From the Progressive via Bill Moyers&Company, Is Back-to-School More Expensive This Year? Yes, and Here’s Why:

The most recent survey asking teachers what they pay out of their own pockets for their students’ school supplies found teachers spend nearly $500 on average, and 1 in 10 spends $1,000 or more.
This is not to say parents shouldn’t complain about getting hit up for the costs of school supplies.
The annually compiled Backpack Index, which calculates the average cost of school supplies and school fees, reports parents face steep costs during back-to-school season: $662 for elementary school children, $1,001 for middle-school children, and $1,489 for high-school students.

Middle-school parents face average costs of $195 for athletics, $75 for field trips and $42 for other school activity fees. In high school, the fees spike much higher to $375 for athletics, $285 for musical instrumentals, $80 to participate in band and $60 in other school activity fees. High-school fees may also include academic courses such as Advanced Placement classes, which more schools are emphasizing. The average fee for tests related to these courses is $92. The costs of materials to prepare for these tests and the SAT average more than $52.

Someone has to pay for these things, or kids go without.
One SPS school is stepping up...again.  From Soup for Teachers:

I am so proud of the work we are doing at the John Muir PTA toward equity in our school. For the second year, we are purchasing all the supplies for every student - from notebooks and pencils all the way down to the hand wipes and kleenex. 

We buy in bulk and everyone gets the same brands and quantities. It's good for teachers, students and families. 

The cost at our school works out to about $20-$25/student.
Man, the money you could save -teachers and parents - buying in bulk.  Congrats to the parents at John Muir.


Anonymous said…
It's certainly not just John Muir doing this bulk supplies idea. Lots of SPS schools are doing this. Which is terrific.
Steve said…
Shouldn't Seattle Council PTA organize a bulk buy of school supplies? Going to vendors saying "We plan to buy $500k of stuff - what kind of deal will you give us" seems like a good approach. Same thing for banking - what could we collectively get for $1 million in deposits if PTAs worked together? A community-based bank/credit union would probably love that..

Anonymous said…
Steve, why would I want my PTA donation to go to another school? If people want to donate to another school's PTA fund there is nothing stopping them from doing that.

We already have contention with how PTA funds are spent at our own school, I can just imagine the problems with commingling funds. Ripe for theft and fraud and favoritism.

PTA Parent
PTA Parent, you didn't read what he wrote. People put in one set amount for their school, for their child but buying in bulking will bring huge savings. No one is saying buy stuff for other people's kids (except if they are kids at your school).
Steve said…
Thanks Melissa. I just meant pool funds for bulk purchasing, although this could also be a mechanism for people to contribute $ for supplies beyond their own kids. I'm betting a lot of people would choose to do this.

NNE Mom said…
It would save so much parent time if just one parent or parent team went shopping for a large number of kids, too. Imagine the bulk discount if you were buying pencils for 54,000 kids. Or even 500. Or even 25. It's so stupid that I have to make my own trip to the store to buy 2 pink erasers. And one year I was asked to buy one dry erase marker. One? Really? So inefficient.
Whitesail said…
Of course if the District had "full funding" to provide school supplies the 2 pink erasers or a box of crayons would cost $8.00 from the "Approved District Supplier" rather than the 80 cents purchased in bulk by the efficient non-bureaucratic PTSA.
Greenwoody said…
There are a lot of organizations in the area that claim to be supportive of education but are in fact vehicles for the Gates Foundation and others of their ilk to privatize and destroy our schools. Are there any organizations out there that a new parent with the interest in fighting back for public education and some experience at organizing can get involved with? Or do I need to start something on my own?
Greenwoody, if you are looking for social justice in Seattle Schools, Soup for Teachers. Parents Across America is also a good org but not particularly strong here in Seattle.

But the best one is the Network for Public Education,started by the great historian and educator, Diane Ravitch. They are the bulwark against Gates and Company, calling them out over and over. It has a mighty reach across the country and, I believe, has been instrumental in calling out the issues of data privacy, privatization, etc.
Greenwoody said…
I looked at some of Diane Ravitch's stuff, but I'm turned off by her relationship with the group "by any means necessary" and it's leader Shanta Driver. It's to hot of a political mess to get associated with.

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