photo by Sheri Dixon

Monday, August 22, 2011

Don't Forget Your Milk Money

Today, bright and early, a whole lotta kids were poked and prodded out of bed, force fed cheerios or poptarts, swaddled in new and uncomfortable clothing and summarily delivered into the maws of the educational system.

We saw it coming from the frenzy at Walmart and Office Depot for pencils and paper and the right kinds of binders to Academy where pint sized quarterbacks (quarter-pints?) stood solidly and proudly while being fitted for all that plastic armor football players need to wear to keep from killing each other in the name of sportsmanship.

All this stuff costs a lot of money. Anyone with kids knows starting about July, the places that sell school supplies all have kiosks of lists- list after list of what parents need to buy to prepare their children for the school year.

So this morning I had another one of my (increasingly and disturbingly frequent) conversations with Ward that starts out "Remember when we were kids?"

"Remember when we were kids and there was the School Store? You lined up on the first day of school with the rest of the class and stood in line. The old lady (who was probably 30) served you from behind the dutch door. All your school supplies- pencils, erasers, crayons, ruler, notebooks- could be had for like $5.00 and we all got the same thing."

Once we got old enough for "gym suits" the gym teacher ordered them and they cost like $20.

None of this school supplies costing several hundred dollars crap.

Ya, I know that was a million years ago and considering the cost of living and all, that $25 my parents spent on school supplies...STILL doesn't = several hundred dollars so shut the hell up.

How hard is it for families to cough up that kind of money, especially in this economy?

This hard- the same day Ricky and his minions (about 30,000 of them) were having their big ol' hootinanny for god inside the air-conditioned Astrodome, the convention center about 10 minutes away was overrun by more than 100,000 people standing in line outside in the heat school supplies, and they had to turn quite a few over that 100,000 mark away. By 10am.

Luckily, we don't have to worry about that. We home school.

Our son was still abed this morning when the school bus rumbled across the wooden bridges at the road. In fact, I'm pretty sure he's never even SEEN the school bus rumble across the wooden bridges at the road.

Sure we have to buy his curriculum and go on field trips and get him involved in sports and stuff, but we work our own hours, are free to vacation when we wish, and don't have to buy any school-appropriate clothing. We feel fortunate to get any clothing at all on the Feral Boy of Dedmon's Branch.

We also pay school taxes.


Back when I was young (this won't be so bad- I promise) I'd hear my grandmother complain that they still had to pay school taxes even though there were no kids at home anymore. She said it wasn't fair to them and grandpa quietly but firmly interjected (the one and only time he ever did) that they had US- between my mom and my aunt there were 5 grandchildren. They were paying taxes for OUR schools. And she'd quit bitching about it. Till next time.

We don't have grandkids and all our nieces and nephews are out of the public school system, but we still pay our school tax. We have friends who say "You don't use the school system, doesn't it make you angry to pay the taxes for it?"

No. No it doesn't.

Because it matters. It matters that children whose parents can't (or don't want to) home school them have a safe place to be during the day. It matters that the schools are staffed with caring competent teachers who have enough supplies to do their jobs.

It matters very much that Rick Perry says there should be no such thing as public schools regulated nationally. That he's cut billions of dollars for schools and teachers in an apparent attempt to wrest the Trophy of Absolute Ignorance from Mississippi once and for all and proudly display it in his cabinet right next to the ones for "Most Teen Pregnancies" and "Highest number of minimum wage jobs" and right under the spotlight glowing on "Largest percentage of citizens without health insurance".

See, just like a health care tax would supply free care to everyone in the country via Universal Single Payer coverage- there would be no need for individual insurance with its accompanying premiums, but you could certainly buy it if you wanted to (like in Canada).

Paying school tax so all children can go to school is the right thing to do. Making truly good health care available FREE to citizens is the right thing to do.

At least I think so. Guess I'm just a terrible American.

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