I have homeschooled for the last 22 years, and every year for the last 22 years someone inevitably says to me, “I can’t afford to homeschool,” or “Both my husband and I have to work full-time to make ends meet, so we can’t homeschool.” Now I am not going to debate those statements, but I am simply going to present my case. I can’t afford to send my kids to public school!
Twenty-two years ago things were very different. My oldest son went to kindergarten. The first day of school (not 2-4 weeks before), the teacher presented my son with a list of items they should have – a bookbag, a file folder (one of his choosing), a thick pencil, a 24 pack of crayons, and a few other miscellaneous items. This list did not break the bank. After kindergarten we decided to homeschool, and my days of mandated school lists were over.
Now when I go “Back to School” shopping I do not buy much. I have the luxury of spreading it out over the course of a year. I tend to pick up only the deeply discounted items – a handful (4 or 5) of glue sticks, a couple packages of lined paper, and about 10 spiral bound notebooks in my children’s favorite colors. My back to school shopping usually means I spend under $20. The crayons that I bought last year are still good, as are the colored pencils. I pick up a few pencils at our local fair that are handed out by some businesses, government entity, or politician (for free), and most times I can get a ruler there too! We don’t need a bookbag or antibacterial wipes. Most years I am simply oblivious to the plight of the public school mom.
As I was shopping for a few discounted items yesterday, I talked with a woman who had an extensive “School Supply List” provided by her local school district. She was instructed to buy 3 – 3 pocket folders with prongs in red, blue and yellow. She couldn’t find them. They did have 2 and 4 pocket ones available, but there was not a 3 pocket one in sight. A Google search revealed that these little beauties cost $16-22 each. Now maybe this is a typo; maybe it should have read 2 pocket, but it didn’t. It read 3 pocket (and had specific colors listed too). This was too much for me to fathom. My child needs to have a red, yellow and blue folder just like every other third grader.
Then I got home and across my Facebook newsfeed a timely article entitled, “Why Your Child’s Teacher is Asking for 45 Glue Sticks,” appeared. Later last night I heard my nephew’s son needed 16 glue sticks for kindergarten. It got me to thinking of all the reasons I can’t afford to send my kids to public school.
Forty-five glue sticks on sale cost approximately $12. I am homeschooling two children so I would be spending $24 on glue sticks. The hundreds of dollars spent by families for just glue sticks is mind boggling. 45 glue sticks works out to a glue stick used every 4 days. I am not sure this is even humanely possible. I suspect that the glue stick is a component in some highly illegal substance and teachers are involved in making said substance. They stockpile glue sticks at the beginning of the year to have a constant supply all year long for the production of this substance.
I also started thinking about all the time spent sitting in seats cutting and gluing. I realized that 2 of my 3 older children would never have sat long enough to use all those glue sticks, and if they did manage to use that many glue sticks, I would need to pay for some serious therapy for them. I could never afford this therapy. Furthermore, when they got home from school after sitting and using massive amounts of glue sticks, I would probably need therapy to deal with my children who came home from school after sitting for extended periods of time gluing. One of my children would sit and pretend to cut and paste, but at the end of class, his cutting and pasting would not have been done. He would end up with detention, and I would have to drive to the school to pick him up after school, using my gas, costing me more money every day.
I also saw a list that had 4 pink erasers. I still have the same eraser that I used in middle school. Those things last forever. What does anyone need with 4?
I did check my local school district supply lists to see what my children would be required to bring. Jack-Jack’s list would look something like this:
“Please be sure that your child’s first and last name is on all of his/her belongings, including individual pencils and markers.” (Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That)
Book bag (no wheels)
The really scary part is that I encountered some horrendous, abusive teachers. These were teachers that should have lost their jobs. Now I know you may be saying that things are different today, but I still hear stories, and read news articles. There are children that have been bullied mercilessly while teachers failed to intervene; there are teachers that have sex with students; there are teachers that have put children in closets and duffel bags; and there are bus drives and aides that have punched and kicked children. I know my children’s teacher and she really loves her students. In addition, she is selective with the people she trusts with them.
My children have been left with Sunday School teachers, piano teachers, babysitters, and I have had certified teachers that have tutored my children through the years. All of these people were wonderful individuals that have added to my children’s learning experiences. But friends have told me horror stories through the years of their public school experiences with their children. These stories are not for the faint of heart.