Back To School Madness

As a new school year begins, I just have to shake my head and sigh. The kids have to start back to school sooner and sooner every year and I don’t see that there is any more improvement in their actual and practical knowledge. Some of them, too many of them, come out of high school not being able to form a complete sentence or even spell contractions! Many of them come out of high school with a huge dose of apathy and a detrimental sense of “I don’t care” or “I don’t wanna” as if there was no point in gaining knowledge.  It’s no wonder, really.  But I’m already getting off the topic I wanted to discuss. This was supposed to be a post about what you have to buy to begin a new school year.

While private schools have always had uniforms and fees galore, this is the first year that I heard of public schools charging a fee for kids to ride the bus. This is yet another way to charge the taxpayers more money because for those kids who can’t afford to pay the fees, the American taxpayers will have to take up the slack. Here’s one article on the subject: 
Now if you are from one of these states, chances are you  might be in part of that 54% the writer of the second article mentioned.  But if you aren’t ‘lucky’ enough to be in the low-income category or if you are like my family was when I was growing up (low enough income but owned a home) then you might find this a bit burdensome. My first question is this: Aren’t schools non-profit organizations? Shouldn’t any money they make from fund raisers go back into the schools? And if this is happening then why isn’t there enough money for the schools to be able to support themselves? 
Kids are supposed to be able to get an education.  After all, that’s what the public school system was created for in the first place, to be an affordable option as opposed to the private schools that cost more.  But it’s becoming quite obvious that it’s costing many folks just as much for public education as it does for those sending their kids to private educational facilities.  It used to be the norm for kids to get a better education at a private school but such is no longer the case. More of the private schools are moving towards the same curricula as public schools and therefore, the knowledge gained is the same across the board. So why would I pay more to send my kid to a private school when the education standards are all the same and there is no extra educational benefit in sending my child there?  So my choices in schools are much like my choices in bananas at the less than perfect grocery store: green or over-ripe? Neither option is acceptable to me, which is another reason why I continue to school my children at home.  
Another friend of mine was speaking of how much it cost her to put her public school children in uniforms and buy all their supplies. She figured that she probably spent $300 per child.  By shopping normally for clothing for my own children, which means bargain shopping these days or making their clothing myself, I save a /ton/ of money. By shopping for curriculum very carefully and taking advantage of coupons, discounts, special sales and great websites that offer free resources, I spend a lot less than what a person might spend on tuition fees. I get to choose which method I wish to use for my children, planning the curriculum in such a way that it is tailor made for each child.  This is a win/win situation, in my opinion.  
My second question is this: Why is it necessary for all the kids to have the same brand name supplies? Some of the schools in our area are actually specifying which brand of supply to buy. Isn’t a binder a binder? Isn’t a no. 2 lead pencil a no. 2 lead pencil? What difference does it make if the pencils have Spiderman or Barbie on them? Heaven forbid we actually allow our progeny to form unique personalities! Heaven forbid we actually encourage them to think for themselves and learn about how to be able to live and make life decisions and then live /with/ those decisions. Nah. They don’t need any of that, do they? Pardon my sarcasm but it seems to be the only weapon I have these days. I’m sorry. I don’t want a cookie cutter kid who looks, thinks and acts just like every other kid. I want to have a child that grows up into a responsible, thinking, fully functioning, unique adult.  I want to encourage them to reach their potential.  While I believe it’s possible for a child to do this while attending public or private school, I think it’s a much harsher environment in which they would need to learn.  Why put them through all that when what they are truly supposed to be focused on is not all the social stuff? The focus is education, right? I really am beginning to wonder about the true purpose of our ‘education’ system. Actually, I am past the beginning of wondering about it. I’m truly skeptical of it. 
Remembering to breathe…