Monday, August 04, 2008

Welkum too edukashun n da Yoonited Statz uv Amerika

When the Selma Elementary School instituted a dress code, I pretty much supported the idea. Even when I was in elementary and high school, there was an expectation of appropriate attire. As I look back at old school pictures, I marvel at the clothes we wore, although they were not as risque as outfits often are today. They were funky looking clothes, but it was, after all, the 1970's. I still chide my mother for dressing me in such weird clothes whenever we look over a photo album together. In high school, I grew up in an area where flannel button shirts, blue jeans, and work boots were normal attire for a large portion of the school year. We wore Buck knives in leather holsters on our hips (just like in "The Dukes of Hazzard") to school every day and never thought anything of it, nor did the school administrators. A Buck knife was seen as a necessary tool, not a weapon. Anyway, rabbit trail aside, I supported the school dress code until recently.

As I had written previously, I have been active in the life of a boy who is now five and about to enter kindergarten. In a couple of months, this boy will become my step-son, so I have an active interest in his success at school and getting him prepared for it. His grandmother took him shopping for some clothes, but you don't generally find school uniforms at Macy's. I took him and his mother to Target last weekend to buy the requisite school clothes and supplies we would need. After all, the school system was kind enough to post the uniform code and school supply list on the internet for us to find (after hunting down the information by surfing a while).

Like I said, I was all for a school dress code. I believe in modest apparel. What I found, however, was that clothes that should be perfectly acceptable by public standards are not necessarily so for school uniforms. The real trick was finding clothing for winter while still in August, of which we found nothing but a few pairs of pants that met the criteria. We did find some polo or golf type shirts. The real problem was finding them in solid colors with no brand logo on them, and in the appropriate size 5. The boy already had some nice, appropriate shirts in his closet, but they had stripes and a Polo logo. Those shirts are plenty nice for church, but not for sending a tot to kindergarten, apparently. We can buy solid shirts in orange, red, blue, purple, black, white, or whatever color we want, but they can not have logos, pockets, or stripes. If the school REALLY was shooting for a school uniform, one style of shirt of one color should be required, but I digress.

For pants, a good looking pair of corduroys or nice, new blue jeans are taboo. Wow, that would have shot my whole school career attire down, except for the bell bottom hound's tooth or plaid pants my mother used to buy me, along with white patent leather belt. I do find the requirement for cotton twill only to be a bit excessive. We are talking about 5 to 10 year olds, not teenagers. For kindergarteners, we are talking about children who just recently learned to wipe themselves after using the bathroom, may have just learned to tie their shoes, and have recently gotten used to the use of forks. They may still often use "sippy cups". Maybe my future step-son is the "Messy Marvin" of his day (wow, that is dating me a bit), but there is extensive clean up after each meal. He play rough with me, his toys, and my dog, so I am dubious about not putting the lad in denim to go to school.

I am not disturbed so much by the cost of adhering to the dress code, though. I would have to buy him new clothes anyway, since he has grown like a weed just since I first got to know him late last year. We did find some $5 polo shirts and $10 pants. It was the exclusivity without adherence to a true uniform standard that sort of annoyed me.

Here is what DID annoy me...the school supply list. Parents are expected to purchase an entire shopping list of materials and simply turn them over to the school at the time of a parental conference. We are expected to furnish brand name crayons, markers, scissors, baby wipes, paper towels, hand sanitizer, Ziploc bags, tissues, dry erase markers, napkins, highlighter markers, index cards, and more. We are not supposed to put the child's name on anything except his change of clothes and his book bag.

I am sorry, but the last time I looked, we still live in America, not the former USSR. Furthermore, I just got my Johnston County property tax bill this week and I am wondering why I am paying all that money in taxes, the school system keeps asking for more money, we constantly are having school bond referendums, and I am being asked to supply basic classroom materials. Does the school not have a janitor? Do they not have cases of paper towels somewhere in that building? Are the teachers not supplied with dry erase markers to write on their boards? Chalk was used in my day, right through college and that worked fine, but I can understand using dry erase boards now. But still, the school system, with all the millions of dollars we are paying in taxes for their operation, should be furnishing something as basic as paper towels. If the school can not afford the materials, I am sure we can afford enough dry erase markers for the entire school system by cutting Superintendent Parker's salary to a reasonable level for what he does for a living. I will do the same job only better for half of what he makes. That is an official offer to the Johnston County Board of Education, by the way. If not that, then one less assistant principal at the elementary school would furnish all the paper towels we would ever need.

Why I mention the USSR is that by confiscating the materials that we are furnishing for the classroom as a whole, we are teaching communism. When I was in kindergarten, all I had to show up with was my daily lunch and/or snack. The rest was taken care of by the school system, which was much smaller than that of Johnston County with a much smaller budget and much older facilities. Furthermore, we learned. We did not have issues in which we did not pass mandates for performance. As a matter of fact, the state where I grew up used to consistently score in the top of the national SAT averages while having the lowest per capita state expenditure per student for education in the country. Thus, I know that education is not a matter of dollars and materials can be furnished for said education.

Sure, when I got older, I had to furnish my own book covers, but an old paper bag from a shopping trip to the A&P did fine. I furnished my own notebooks eventually, but they were MY notebooks for my use alone. By taking the crayons that I purchase and pooling them with that of others, we are employing a communist system. I was told by the office staff that 60% of the students at Selma Elementary are Hispanic and from families in which English is not the primary language. If Jose and Maria can not afford to buy a 27 cent box of Crayolas, that is their problem. It is not my responsibility to furnish their children with crayons, markers, glue, and paper towels. I bought the crayons, so I know how much they cost. I bought my boy some pencils with his name on them some time ago. I surmise that he will not be able to use them at school, since not all children are so named. We are supposed to protect the self esteem of some illegal immigrant children or even some poor family's kids by furnishing them with Crayolas? All this redistribution of school supply wealth has got to be all one big joke, right? That is liberal academia social engineering with lower educational results for you.

First, I am ticked that the schools are not furnishing these supplies after we are constantly being asked to "pony up" an ever increasing amount of tax dollars for their operation. Then I am extremely annoyed that our children are being taught communisitic principles for politically correct reasons. If you can not afford a trip to Wal-Mart or the dollar store for your child to bring his/her own supplies and not take from others, then I suggest that you forgo that next DVD purchase, 12 pack of beer, tattoo addition, or carton of cigarettes and buy some 22 cent glue sticks and crayons (at least the non big named crayons were 22 cents, but the school specifically requested the five cent higher Crayola brand). Better yet, let the school system slash its over bloated bureaucracy and maybe we could afford to buy the needed supplies instead of double taxing us by demanding a grocery list of supplies before the first day of school. It gets better, though. We were informed that we will be furnished an additional supply list later. Doggone communists of academia. I miss America.

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