Most people these days know the importance of investing in their child’s education. The real question for them is: how much? My answer? You should invest not just money, but time and effort into your child’s education. How much depends on you.
As far as time and effort go, you should invest as much as you possibly can. Being a teacher that has taught in many different environments, I can tell you that you can live in any environment–high poverty, rural, low poverty etc.–and the amount of time and effort you invest WILL make a difference. When I taught in a lower income, but higher crime area there were a few parents I could always count on when it came to their child’s education. If I called, they answered. If I requested they come to school, they came. If I emailed them, they responded. Research is clear that the number one factor in determining school success is parental involvement. That’s right–the success of your child’s entire school rests firmly on your shoulders.
Now for the more pressing part for many, the money question. How much you invest in your child’s education is entirely up to you and your finances. You can choose whether to send your child to a public school or a private school. In either choice you need to expect that you will be purchasing school supplies. Some people actually think ‘I shouldn’t have to buy supplies for my child because we attend a public school. It’s not free if I have to buy supplies. Can I tell you how disheartening that is to me? Just because you have your child in a public school does not mean that everything is free. Yes it’s a free education, but the tools that allow your child to fully take advantage of that education are not free. The teachers are asking for supplies that the kids use almost daily–things like tissues to wipe their nose, wipes to help keep the desks and doorknobs sanitary, baby wipes to help clean their hands when having a messy project, and more.
Why does your child have to bring 3 packs of pencils, 2 packs of crayons, 10 glue sticks, and a bottle of glue? Much like socks in the dryer, pencils, crayons, and glue sticks just mysteriously disappear never to be seen again. They are all rejoicing in another land that they escaped to. Seriously though, pencils break, crayons break, and kids use way too much glue. You might be thinking, “well not my child,” but I’m going to tell you that yes, even your child, will do those things.
To those that think, I pay taxes why aren’t my tax dollars buying the supplies? Your tax dollars are being put to work, but there’s only so much it can do. Teachers need to be paid, facilities need to be updated and taken care of, electricity and water bills need to be paid, not to mention all the other support staff it takes to run a school.
There are then people who wonder why teachers are paid year round when they only work about 180 days a year. Well, we aren’t! We are only paid for 10 months. Some parishes or private schools may let the teacher elect to be paid year round, but that doesn’t mean we are paid more. It just means our weekly checks are less than if we elect to be paid in 10 months. We work way more than 180 days per year. Most teachers have their own families and kids to tend to, but they still take time away from them to continue working. Each night teachers can be planning for the next day or week, making a test, grading a test, entering test scores, researching, preparing new games or fun ways to learn, or talking to parents. On a daily basis at school teachers are responding to parents, reading and evaluating data, preparing for the day, adjusting to schedule changes, and meeting with other colleagues. At any time a teacher could be attending a workshop to further their learning. They could also be taking college courses to advance their skills, which means they are doing everything mentioned above and studying/doing work for their courses.
Teaching is a special calling. We love and care for our students as if they were our own. When a supply list is sent home instead of complaining about buying those supplies, buy them and send them to school. You are helping out the person who is with your child 6-8 hours a day. When the teacher sends home a note asking to help replenish supplies, instead of asking where they all went just send them in happily. By doing these things you are not only helping the teacher, you are helping your child.
I am speaking from the aspect of a public school teacher and parent. Please be considerate of those who teach your child. Please invest in your child’s education not only financially, but with time and effort as well.
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