The insanity of cost savings for those who should not be spending

Recently, the AP released a story about North Carolina parents receiving lists that are longer than usual for supplies that their children will need for school. It seems that even though some defenders of the state budget claim that the state has never spent so much money on education as it is spending right now (a fact disproven by the data), there just are not enough supplies for North Carolina’s classrooms. This is just more proof of how the budget falls short on supporting public education.

The list sent by a teacher mentioned in the story includes such basics as paper to make copies and materials to clean the classroom.

“We horde supplies,” said Ashley Montgomery, who teaches kindergarten at Nancy Reynolds Elementary School in Stokes County. “If there’s anything to grab, we grab it. Because whatever the parents bring in is what we’ve got for the year, unless we go out and buy it ourselves.”

The list Montgomery sent home with her students is pretty typical — notebook, crayons, glue sticks, pencils, etc. But, like many other teachers across the state, she also asked parents to provide copier paper, cleaning supplies and other items that were once provided by the school.

“We don’t have the funds we need,” said Montgomery, who has been teaching 10 years. “It gets kind of frustrating when you hear about some of the things they’re spending money on down in Raleigh and we don’t have paper.”

The simple facts reported in the AP story are enough to render the claims of those responsible for the budget utterly maddening. Whatever the state is spending, the growing list of supply demands make clear that it is not enough.

But when you think about it, of course, it’s crazy that parents and teachers have to spend any money to get supplies in the first place. We have become so accustomed to the list being sent to parents that the story is that the list is longer. The story should be that we even have a list at all.

Our Parent Teacher Associations are given the responsibility to conduct fundraisers. Some have made it easy by partnering with grocery stores to get a percentage of a parent’s purchase. Some of the fundraising provides money so teachers can buy equipment. But PTAs should not carry this burden. The state should provide everything a child needs for his or her educational experience. We have become too used to this being a function of parents.

Even more appalling is that we expect teachers to dig into their already low-paid pockets to buy supplies. It takes 15 years for a North Carolina public school teacher to make $40,000 but it only takes one trip to Staples or Office Depot to get a discount for supplies.

Parents living in poverty should not fear or be ashamed that when the list comes to their home that they will not be able to purchase everything or anything on the list.


  1. LayintheSmakDown

    September 3, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Not sure about anyone else, but EVERY year I have received a list of ~10-15 items the teachers want us all to bring in. I have had this experience in three school districts across the state and can say that this year is pretty much the same. This is really old news….decades even as I used to have to hear the mantra that “we don’t have any paper” back in the 70’s and 80’s.

    As a taxpayer I would rather pay $20 for some pencils, glue sticks, markers, and paper myself than the hundreds we would pay for the government to administer the supply of them them. It is actually a deal when you realize any time the government gets involved you get less of the item, at a higher price, and the item will be lower quality.

  2. david esmay

    September 3, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    I never heard that mantra in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s. In the 2000’s it’s increased as school budgets continually get cut. One this for sure, when the government runs a program, whether it’s medicare or education, it’s run well. When programs such a these are handed over to the private sector it’s all about profit, not quality, not efficiency, just profit.

  3. Alan

    September 3, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    Yet more uber-right wing talking points from LayDowntheCrackPipe. “It is actually a deal when you realize any time the government gets involved you get less of the item, at a higher price, and the item will be lower quality”. More unsubstantiated, and discredited, anti-government nonsense from the tin-foil hat crowd.

    I guess LSD/Doogie and the rest of the interns will only be happy when ‘government schools’ are replaced with a for profit school system, accountable to nobody for the results. I assume science classes would have to be banned also, replaced with some wacko creationist ‘theory’.

  4. emd

    September 3, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    I never sent any such list home with my students when I was teaching in the Triangle in the late 70’s. Not. At. All. My mother taught over 30 years in northwest NC, retiring in the 1980’s, and she never sent such lists home with her kids either. Ever.

    It’s appalling that teachers are forced to beg for supplies and/or pay for them out of their pockets these days, especially when Deputy Assistant Governor McCrony is passing out raises like TicTacs to his little buddies.

    I swear if LSDboy said the sun rose in the East I’d go check.

  5. LayintheSmakDown

    September 4, 2013 at 11:07 am

    The bad thing is that the highly paid executives of the schools get such rich perks like fully paid medical..plus a fully reimbursed full physical per year. Car and housing allowances. These decisions are made at the local level…..I guess fortunately for the school systems you guys come from it was not an issue….but in the district I was in we DEFINITELY had to being in supplies, and it has been an issue for decades. Maybe you guys should peruse the WRAL site like Brent here:


    I know you guys don’t like the play the class warfare thing though…unless it is a corporate CEO…but really these guys are making local decisions that are affecting your kids….and the locality is where the buck stops.

  6. gregflynn

    September 4, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Welcome to the 21st Century LyinTalkinSmakDoug. You think teacher can make it through the year with “some pencils, glue sticks, markers, and paper”? That $20 is a pittance, just a down payment on the needs of today’s classrooms. Our PTA spends $1,000s on a photocopier lease because there’s no text book money and the old one couldn’t handle the volume of worksheets. I spend $100s every year to supplement my child’s classroom and to carry some of the load for those who can’t afford it, including kids who live in shelters or in their parent’s car or who do their homework in the restaurant where their single mom works. We spend countless hours raising money for subsistence needs let alone enhancements, time that could be better spent helping our children and other children with their work.

    As to superintendent pay, the latest wedge issue from conservatives crying crocodile tears for teachers they don’t value in the first place, the issue is not that superintendents should be paid less, but that teachers should be paid more. The Wake County Schools budget is $1.3 billion, which coincidentally is the same as Red Hat’s revenue for 2013. Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst makes $7.2 million. The Wake County School Superintendent makes A LOT less. Just like parents “can” but have to supplement funding of their child’s education (and others), counties “can” and do supplement K-12 funding but the primary responsibility, according to the NC State Constitution, lies with State Government.

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