Today, I got an email from my daughter’s band teacher. This year, he said, sheet music for the class will not be provided. Instead, parents have been instructed to print out the music themselves, then collate into a sheet protectors and a binder (parent-provided, of course) for our children to use at school. This is in addition to the workbook we already bought and the online music practice software to which we are required to purchase a subscription. Oh, and he’s also looking for volunteers to paint the band room (no word on whether we should be sending in the paint).
When my kids started school, I expected to provide school supplies. Pencils, binders, backpacks, a cute little pencil box, probably some crayons and nice big eraser. I was a little bemused when the lists also included scissors, glue, paper, tissues, cleaning supplies, paper products and markers for the white board, but I figured that just must be the way things were. But I must say, It’s surprising to be asked to provide the instructional materials, too.
This is not the first time it’s happened. For the last two years, I have supplied the novels required for my daughter’s English class. I also bought her a math book last year, not because it was required, but because it was the only way she’d have access to any instructional materials at all. It’s not that the kids no longer need instructional materials (a common refrain among those who are comfortable with cutting supply budgets), rather that the schools no longer have the ability to provide those materials.
Now, I realize it may be unseemly for me to be complaining about providing my child’s school supplies and instructional materials. After all, I’m a wealthy(ish) stay-at-home mom living in a wealthy(ish) area. I have a printer at home, as well as a computer and access to the internet. And I can certainly afford to spend a few hundred dollars on my kids’ education. But what about the families who can’t? Spending $15 for one of the novels my daughter needs for class is an inconvenience for me. For another mom, that same novel represents over two hours of work at minimum wage. That’s a pretty stiff burden in a state where our Constitution is supposed to guarantee every child — no matter how wealthy their family — a sound, basic education.
The NCGA keeps shifting more and more of its Constitutional responsibility to individual families, and it’s all too easy for us to assume it’s normal. But it’s not normal, and it’s not inevitable. As always, the answer is to vote out candidates who don’t take their responsibilities seriously.