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Suggested Supply Lists for Parents Get Longer, Is Meaningful Classroom-Spending Data a Solution?

Suggested Supply Lists for Parents Get Longer, Is Meaningful Classroom-Spending Data a Solution?

Supply lists for some parents are longer than ever this back-to-school season as public schools are increasingly relying on parents and teachers to provide supplies for classroom. The editorial board for AZCentral thinks that classroom-spending data needs to be more meaningful for reform to happen and supplies to make their way back on to the budget.

This school year, research indicated that teachers will spend around $500 of their own money to provide supplies for the classroom, spending more on supplies than their districts. To remove some of the burden from teachers, schools are asking parents to provide more supplies for the classroom than usual.

"With school districts strapped for funds and looking to trim expenses, many have turned to parents for help with basic supplies that many people assume are part of a school district’s operating budget," said The Washington Post.

According to the article, Huntington Bank has been analyzing school spending since 2007 and annually looks at the cost of supply lists in six states. It found that across elementary, middle, and high schools in these states the cost of supplies has increased 83, 73 and 44 percent respectively.

"Those rising costs, which far outpace the rate of inflation and wage in­creases, place a particular burden on the growing number of students from low-income families in the nation’s public schools."

Of course, school supply lists are a request and not a requirement, but families still feel the burden of helping fund their child's education where the district cannot.

Teachers feel that burden, as well, and many are turning to crowdfunding- or the donations of strangers via the internet- to acquire supplies as simple as art supplies or gym equipment.

According to the editorial board for AZCentral, one way to help fix the issue of underfunded supplies is by collecting meaningful and usable data concerning classroom-spending. The board looks strictly at Arizona, but their opinion has implications for the rest of the states, as well.

Holding fault with the way Arizona's Department of Education organizes classroom-spending data, AZCentral says more needs to be done to let the community know exactly where spending is going and how it compares statewide and nationally.

"Providing context and facilitating comparisons could make the information useful. Putting it someplace the average parent could find it, such as in the spotlighted school report cards, would make it accessible," the article said.

"That would require more effort than the department has exerted so far. But it would be worth it, because until these changes are made, this new information does more to foster frustration than accountability."

Read the full article here and comment with your thoughts below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

08/13/2015

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