School supply shopping is yet another stressful task on every parents’ never-ending to-do list. Parents hunt down all the supplies necessary for their own student to do their work for the year from paper to pencils to $100 calculators, we get what is required for our child to succeed in the classroom.
One mom, Shanitta Nicole, got her son all prepped for his new school, school supplies ready to go for his first day. However, he came home with an interesting request from his teacher regarding supplies, and now this mom is wondering if she’s overreacting about the entire situation.
She explains that a couple weeks into school, her 13-year-old son informed her that his 7th grade honors teacher told him he needs to help provide “classroom supplies.”
“And I’m like, ‘That’s weird because we got you everything on the list that you would need for the class and you’re not going to be using it in classroom supplies,’” she recalled in the viral video.
She didn’t think much more of the situation until her son came home again and told her that he was going to get a zero grade if he did not bring in school supplies for the classroom.
“Why would she give you a zero? Why are you getting a grade for it or whatever?” she wondered.
Despite her confusion, she went ahead and bought the classroom supplies including tissues, Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, pencils, Expo markers, and red pens.
After turning in the supplies, her son still has a zero grade, despite excelling in every other subject. Shanitta decides to e-mail her son’s teacher to get to the bottom of the issue.
“I was like, ‘We bought the supplies anyways, but I don’t feel like it’s the parents’ responsibility to supply your classroom. And I definitely don’t think it’s appropriate to assign a grade to students based off of whether or not they’ve supplied your class with supplies. That doesn’t make any sense,’” she said.
Shanitta goes on to say that she did get an email back from her son’s teacher about reconciling his grade. However, there was no. mention about her school supply concerns.
“So, I emailed the principal because I just, I might be extra, but I just want to see what’s going on. Why do I have to buy supplies for the classroom?” she concluded.
After her video went viral, gaining over 1.6 million views, several TikTok users weighed in on the school supply issues with their own theories on why her son’s teacher is asking for supplies as well as how they feel about her son being graded for the task.
“That is so unfair!! Especially for the kids whose parents CANT afford groceries let alone classroom supplies,” one user wrote.
“A grade is RIDICULOUS. that’s so so so so out of line,” another said.
Shanitta says multiple times in the comment section that her issue taken up with the school has nothing to do with her son’s teacher asking kids to help supply the classroom with the items they need in order to be successful learners. It has everything to do with her son’s failing grade on the assignment. It has to do with the fact that kids are being graded at all.
“The grade I don’t agree with! As a former teacher I spent a lot of my personal money on supplies. New teachers don’t even get a stapler,” one user chimed in.
The OP replied, “I understand that but to assign a grade is wrong bc what if there are families that literally can’t afford it, a child get penalized?”
In a follow-up video, she clears some misconceptions up about her original vent session and gives an update on the principal’s response to her email.
She explains in the updated video that the principal called her, apologized, and explained that grading kids on school supplies is, “not their common practice.”
The teachers are allowed to ask for donations for classroom supplies, but in no way should it be a mandatory grade.
The principal went on to say that she didn’t know, “what the teacher was trying to accomplish, but it definitely wasn’t appropriate,” and planned to forward Shanitta’s email to the direct supervisor of the teacher.
The discourse over school supplies seems never-ending. The costs are too high, the lists are too long, and teachers are never given enough funds to properly stock their classrooms.
A 2022 study conducted by Savings.com reported that the average parent spent a total of $697 on school supplies for the 2022-23 school year.
Another study conducted by Morning Consult, polled 2,000 parents about back-to-school shopping. Only 36% of those parents said they can afford their kids’ back-to-school shopping — down from 52% last year — which also saw a 5% increase in parents expressing anxiety about back-to-school shopping.
Alongside that, most public school teachers will spend an average of $673 per year on school supplies out of their own pocket, according to a recent survey of more than 1,100 educators by the Association of American Educators (AAE).
Teachers earning between $35,000 and $50,000 yearly buy on average $715 worth of supplies with their own money. Teachers who work in high-poverty schools, where 75% or more students are eligible for free- or reduced-price lunch, also are more likely to spend higher amounts on supplies—an average of $761.
Seems that the costs of school supplies are too expensive no matter if you’re a teacher, a parent, or a student. This is a burden on everyone. How can we grade kids on their ability to supply pens and pencils for the classroom if districts can’t even manage to give teachers enough funds to do it themselves?