Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sending the children back to school

This is another one of those when I was young “I walked up hill to school, both ways”.  Which I did. 

We went with a new notebook, and later on mom might buy a package of notebook paper for writing themes and such, if last year’s package had run dry.  Most work was done in pencil, although I can remember writing essays out in ink.  Announcements and permission forms came home via child and were returned the same way.  Some announcements were made on the PA, and children were totally responsible for having those fulfilled.

Fast forward to educating my grandchildren. Announcements concerning the current school year, which began last Wednesday, commenced at the end of last school year.  Why do they do this?  Because there is electronic media available to send requests and requirements down the line at the speed of—electricity.

It seems to me, having enrolled these children last year, I could at most check and sign off on a list of facts about them.  I’m still completing pages and pages, times three: their address and who to contact, what meds do they take at school (are nurses’ stations  loaded with drugs to be doled out!  What is going on?!), are they allergic to peanuts.

The supply lists! The book lists (when I went to school texts were passed out the first day and returned the last.  Do not write in your books, children!).  The fees! The fees!  Band is one hundred dollars per.  Lab fees.  Science fair fees (yes, science fair is a requirement!).  School pictures.  Gym uniforms.

I get daily, or more, announcement/reminder emails from the high school, the middle school, the band.  These used to be called morning announcements, children, remember to tell your parents.

I refuse as much as I can.  The grand kids know there is precious little money to spare; they fill in their school picture packets and I see twelve dollars worth of pictures checked. Hamilton and I had a pretty good laugh about the senior pictures.  I bought the cheapest sitting, two poses.  I told him he got one pose with his suit jacket on and one with it off, pick his favorite for the year book.

I looked over the price of pictures while he was being shot—hundreds and hundreds of dollars. We could have a sofa portrait for three hundred dollars.  Hamilton over the sofa, not on it.  A mantle portrait is four hundred dollars.  Notice to relatives—Hamilton’s senior pictures will be cash in advance, and may or may not include a suit jacket.

I do not remember going through this for my daughters, who graduated high school in 1982 and 1985.  Beth, in fact, completely bypassed senior pictures by announcing at the beginning of the prior year she had accumulated enough credits to graduate.

The internet is to blame.  Without it our children would still be responsible for their schooling.

Graduated in 1982 without pictures

Graduated in 1985 with pictures.  I wonder where they are.


  1. What a lot of red tape and fees for a public school system!

  2. Yes it is ridiculous what the schools ask for these days. Some of it is good and a result of government cutbacks in providing schools what they need. But a lot of it is not necessary in my view. My mother and I co-raised my niece and nephew and we experienced constant requests from the schools, just as you are experiencing now. On top of that there were things the children wanted/needed as extracurricular activities. It really opened my eyes to how things have changed for parents and given me more empathy for single parenthood. I'm sure requests have even increased since the days when I was last involved in this as that was already over 10 years ago.

  3. I left school on a pictures no nothing (except with the thought of my exam results due in late summer).That was the UK 1980. I'm fine.
    Jane x

  4. It has gotten ridiculous. I didn't even bother going to my high school graduation. They sent my diploma in the mail...I was at work. The daughter attended grade 8 graduation (rows of little girls dressed like hookers) and her high school graduation (two seconds on stage and they got the diplomas mixed up so she didn't get hers until after the ceremony).....She got one class picture each year of her entire school career....the cheapest package. Last year we attended graduation for our grandson from kindergarten....good grief.

  5. No school kids in my family at the moment looks like I lucky.

  6. If you want Hamilton to have a "senior picture" he can distribute to his friends and relatives take your own and make copies. MUCH cheaper!

  7. My great nephew (in Napa CA) graduated from kindergarten last year. As Delores said - good grief. Mortar boards were worn too (shudder).

  8. I raised a couple of non-conformists... they graduated high school in 1980 and 1981... neither had a senior photo taken... neither had a photo in their yearbooks. To this day I feel like I may have instilled in them a little too much of my independence. They've done just fine, but there are no photos on record of what they looked like then. HOWEVER.... there are a LOT cheaper ways now that digital photography is so readily available than going the hundreds of dollars, 20 photos looking like a hooker, way of getting it done!

  9. I remember starting the school year with only new exercise books and new pencils. Texts were handed out and handed back at the end of the year, anything left from the year before, rulers, other math equipment, was reused. When my kids went to high school, text books had to be paid for as they were new and different every year, why? And some of the books were so very expensive, but because they were new editions, we couldn't get secondhand ones. Those were the years I worked overtime three days a week and on Saturday mornings, for so long, just to pay for their schooling.

  10. There's kindergarten graduations now????
    next thing there'll be potty training ceremonies...where will it end?

  11. Hari OM
    The thing that gets me is that when we were at school, it was one small 'satchel' to carry the stationery with homework and maybe a packed lunch. Lockers were provided for items used on a weekly basis - or held by the relevant staff.

    Nowadays, the kids backpack to school and home again and complain of spinal pain, neck pain, headaches...

    ...and all of it paid for on top of the tuition fees.

    I don't envy you this one Joanne! YAM xx

  12. The internet is certainly deeply involved in school today but I would disagree with you about blaming it. I agree with the comments above about the craziness of pre-school and kindergarten graduations. I see that as a sign that many of these changes are brought on by the parents and their hyped up attitude regarding showing off their kids. There seems to be a balance of care and concern that is out of whack.

    1. You are right Bill; the internet didn't precipitate this crisis of too much information. I looked at all the directives, schedule changes and $$$ requests rolling in one day and said, "You know, this is all Al Gore's fault." Or some such immature reaction.

  13. Holy Moly! That is really REALLY expensive. My daughter only buys one picture of my little granddaughter. Then she scans it and e-mails it to me and probably her husband's family. School fees are on the rise, but I didn't know they were going up that much. That's really scary! No wonder my daughter is sticking to just one child. Darn.

  14. Buy the cheapest package and if you need more, just scan and print.

    I remember that when I graduated, getting my school ring was a really big thing. In the late 80s through the late nineties when my children were graduating, having a school ring was dorky so I saved money and was thankful for that. I wonder if they even sell them today?

  15. and as long as parents and grandparents tolerate this, it will continue..Too many people making too much $ on nonsense..

  16. Dear Joanne, I didn't realize that getting an education had gotten this bad. I've been aware, when I've gone into K-Mart, that the store has posted a school list of necessary supplies from each school in the area. And that in itself bemuses me. We got by--in the '40s and '50s--with so little:paper, pencils with erasers on one end, and rulers. That was mostly it. Maybe crayons in the early grades.

    It's so sad that all this has changed but that the ranking of the American children in reading, math, science, history has gone down, down, down when world records appear. Something is so wrong. Peace.