A dizzying 'Tax Free' weekend

Walking into Walmart this past weekend, I could have sworn that I had missed a few months and that it was Black Friday. People were everywhere, swarming in little circles around the school supplies. It was like bumper “carts” and utterly ridiculous. The “Back to School” tax free weekend has become a mini-Black Friday.  

Everywhere you turned there were big balloons screaming “TAX FREE,” people bustling about holding up school supply list and not watching where they were going. My mother had the boy this weekend and so it was just the little flower, Daddy and I. As we maneuvered our way down aisles filled with people, I suddenly realized that  I did not care about the “tax free” as much as I did my life, so I quickly got out of there.

I had my toes run over, was hit in the hip with numerous carts and my darling little one had the deer-in-the-headlights look as people scrambled over one another trying to get the last red folder or the skinny pack of dry erase markers (it’s a little absurd  how specific these school supply lists are). And why do we all have to buy dry erase markers? My child does not need them, his teacher does. So every class will have at least 20 packs of skinny and thick dry erase markers, which I assume are for the teachers’ use on their dry erase boards. I am empathetic to the budget cuts but this is crazy. Well, not quite as crazy as having to purchase 20 glue sticks, that’s right 20.

As I managed to successfully emerge from the throngs of eager parents getting their tax break this weekend, I breathed a sigh of relief.  I made it through without too many injuries and my child was still securely fastened in the cart. Score for me. As soon as I got home and the boy was dropped off, I heard even more horrific tales of shopping. My mother had to wait in an outrageous line just to buy the kids some back-to-school shoes that were severely picked over.  Others told tales of scrambling to grab the last zipper pouch pencil holder, and then there was my experience.  

I came to realize that really I wouldn’t be saving that much money and that next year I will shop when I want to, not when someone tells me it’s the “Back-to-School “ weekend and I need to go right now. The supplies will be there for at least another month and they will restock, supply and demand folks.  So next year will be more peaceful of a shopping experience and not the madhouse it was this year. But, at least the boy is ready for school, all 36 pre-sharpened pencils, 20 glue sticks, five color coordinated folders (that have to be plastic), dry erase markers for his teachers, a box of quart-sized plastic bags, a pack of baby wipes, three notebooks and so on, you get the point.


I agree that tax-free weekend

I agree that tax-free weekend is not the weekend to go school shopping. You can get much better deals without the crowds in July usually. However, I disagree with some of the points that you made about school supplies. Teachers do not request dry erase markers to use them themselves. Each child uses a personal sized dry erase board to practice skills and allow them to have more hands-on classroom learning experience. Also 20 glue sticks for an entire year is not excessive. That's about one glue stick every two weeks, and if your child is in a primary grade they will use that and more. As a teacher, glue sticks usually run out first. I have already purchased my own stockpile to supply the students when they run out (or if they do not bring supplies at all). In addition, school supplies are specific partly because if you have ever worked with twenty five little people, you know that any deviation from the "normal" school supply can be cause for arguments and tears. This is not something that you need distracting from learning. Also, teachers are under enormous pressure to provide a differentiated learning experience for each child and that requires very specific supplies. When a child does not bring in what they need, then the teacher must go buy it. Buying 20 gluesticks for your own child is not so bad when you compare it to buying 500 glue sticks to supply the entire class. As a teacher, I appreciate parents who send in the supplies that are listed and as a mother I appreciate that the teacher is requesting exactly what she needs so I am not confused at the store or have to buy something different later to replace what I bought because it was wrong. Perhaps you should consider volunteering at your child's school to see exactly how your child's teacher is using the supplies that you provide. (By the way, most schools do not provide supplies to the classrooms, what parents don't send teachers purchase out of their own pocket. What school supplies are requested really is not linked at all to budget cuts. Budget cuts mostly effect our salaries and class sizes.)

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