"BACK-TO-STRESS" IN SCHOOLS AROUND THE U.S.
It’s that special time of the year where children across the U.S. head back to school after a fun summer break. There are nervous children entering elementary school to spend half their day without parents for the first time, preteens transitioning to the social challenges that come with middle school and high school seniors beginning their final year before facing life as an adult. Across all of our social platforms, we’ll see our friends and family members post cute photos of their kids embarking on this new journey, but the underlining financial and emotional stress caused during this time continues to grow over the years. The start of a new school year creates increased tension for parents and teachers who are dealing with the stress of providing proper tools and supplies needed for these kids to be successful.
Nearly half of the parents with children entering into school say they are extremely stressed during this time and the majority of this stress comes from purchasing school clothes and supplies needed to start the new year. In 2019, parents will spend an average of $500 on new clothes, electronics, and comfortable shoes to prepare their kids for the upcoming school year. For families with multiple children, this combined investment can be very difficult when trying to accommodate all the needs from different age groups. As these children enter their middle and high school years, there is even more pressure placed on the parents to purchase higher priced clothing from top brands and fashionable shoes that are considered “trendy”.
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), in 2019 the total money spent for students between kindergarten all the way through college during back to school is estimated at $80 billion.
It is every parents goal to make their child’s school experience as good as possible, but unfortunately there are many families around the country that are unable to purchase these items. In the United States there are more than 15 million kids that live in extreme poverty who’ll arrive at school on the first day without any new clothes or supplies. This not only makes these children unprepared to properly learn, but it can lead to teasing by other kids who are unable to understand what it means to live this way.
For teachers to be successful, it’s essential for students to be equipped with basic items like paper, pens, pencils, and backpacks. It’s been estimated that more than 90% of teachers spend their own money to ensure students have enough resources to properly participate in class. Nearly all public-school teachers spend close to $500 for extra supplies, which is double the amount received from the $250 federal tax deduction available to them. In many cases teachers will send a list home with the students asking parents for contributions to the class to avoid investing more of their own money for these items since our schools aren’t funded well enough to cover these costs. Teachers in the U.S. are already under paid with the average national salary around $58,000, so there must be changes to the system to prevent them from digging in their own pockets to help educate our nation’s children.
Sending our children to school should come with excitement and enthusiasm, but unfortunately it is sprinkled with the financial burden on all parties to provide the bare essentials that aren’t provided by the existing educational system. Luckily there are many organizations out there dedicated to support those families and classrooms in need of basic supplies:
- Kids in Need Foundation (https://www.kinf.org ): Offers multiple ways to donate money or supplies to classroom in some of the most challenged communities across the country.
- Donors Choose (https://www.donorschoose.org ): Allows donors to find and classroom project that inspires them to help reach a funding goal for needed supplies.
- Operation Backpack (https://www.voa.org/operation-backpack ): Through donations, they provide children in need with backpacks filled with grade-specific supplies.
For those parents who are fortunate enough to buy their kids new clothes, comfortable shoes, and the latest school accessories, remember those families struggling to just provide a backpack or the teachers spending their hard-earned money to bridge that gap. When those lists are sent home by the teacher asking for additional classroom items, know that every little bit helps and you’ll fill better knowing it helps kids gain the most precious asset on this planet, an education.1 comment