The new public school year in central Connecticut begins in about four weeks. And while most youngsters want summer break to last forever, the reality is that the first day of school is coming up quickly.
Along with a new school year comes the annual onslaught of store sales urging parents to buy their kids new wardrobes, backpacks, lunch boxes and school supplies.
Schools too, push parents to get to the department and discount retailers and buy pencils, notebooks, markers, rulers and more, from lists generated by teachers and school administrators.
According to the National Retail Federation the average student is expected to spend $669 on school necessities this year. That’s good for retailers, but daunting for many families.
While it may be an attitude booster for youngsters to start the school year with fresh, new clothes and the latest in trendy backpacks, the ever-increasing cost parents and teachers feel they are forced to pay out for even the most basic supplies calls into question the role public schools play in providing students with learning tools.
Baby boomers surely remember that things like crayons, glue, and paper were supplied by schools.
Now, not only do children need to bring these items, some school supply lists include demands for things like several boxes of tissue and enough hand sanitizer for the entire class.
Not every family can afford to purchase all that is required, which puts children in an awkward position and pushes teachers to use their own money to make up the difference.
Many community organizations including those in New Britain, Bristol and Newington, began requesting donations of supplies weeks ago to hand out to families who can’t afford to buy everything.
We understand that cuts in state aid to cities and towns have had a negative impact on some local school budgets. But taxes that every state resident is required to pay are supposed to fund the public education system.
That should include such staples as books, pencils and paper, as well as calculators, computers and yes, even soap and paper towels.