Socializing Public Schools

The other day at work, I was looking through the various school supply lists that our stationary department has received for back to school time. I noted a curious little note which appeared on several of the lists.

Under the requirements for certain classes, there were of course the common things like “Notebooks (wide rule)” or “Six folders with middle fasteners” or “School glue.” Not much had changed from when I was in school, unsurprisingly.

What caught my eye were things similar to, “Two boxes of #2 pencils (these will be collected at the beginning of the year and distributed throughout the year.”


I’m by no means an expert on, well, anything, but isn’t this socialism? Isn’t this teaching children that a higher authority — in this case, the schools — should be responsible for the management of resources or property? Isn’t this forced redestribution from the haves to the have nots?

Another reason why we have every intention to home school when we have children, as if we needed further cause.

7 thoughts on “Socializing Public Schools”

  1. They are only pencils. They probably do it to keep the kids from sharpening the whole box at the beginning of the year, and breaking them all in nickel hockey by the second week of October.

  2. Brandon: So the message is still, the civil authority has the right to decide what we can and cannot do with our own things.

    As you said, they are just pencils; does it really matter if they get broken or used up or whatever by October?

  3. Brandon: I suppose that is possible; the wording is ambiguous. However, I’m quite familiar with the practice of requiring students to each bring a box or two of facial tissue to class so that the whole class may use it. I assumed the same sort of thing would be being done with pencils.

    Quite frankly, I’m still surprised that in our age of environmental concern, schools aren’t requiring kids to bring mechanical pencils — one of which could last many times longer than a wooden pencil.

  4. Well if my kid doesn’t get to Harvard because he doesn’t have pencils to use in Grade 2, I’d feel pretty badly.

    Besides, I fail to see in your post that the pencils were going to be re-distributed throughout the year. Perhaps each student will have their name on their own box. (?)

  5. re: mechanical pencils

    Sure, the mechanical pencils would last a long time. But there are two issues there.

    Lost pencils.

    The pencil would last but I bet the kids would go through the leads at triple (or more) the rate of wooden pencils.

    Frankly, I think you’re reading way too much into pencils.

  6. Senior: Perhaps I am. :P

    A lot of the graphite of wooden pencils is wasted — through sharpening or through not using the pencil all the way down to the eraser mount. I can’t help but wonder which pencil results in more waste.

    Still, it seems like mechanical pencils could be made very sustainable, especially if the plastic is made from corn (as some clothes hangers are).

  7. There are several purposes of expecting students to bring a year’s supply (of whatever, not just pencils) right from the start; here are three off the top of my head:

    1. So no student will be “left behind” because they forgot a pencil that day.
    2. So the teacher can identify students who can’t afford pencils and find help for them.
    3. To make daily work flow without interruptions as everyone hunts for their stuff.

    As far as tissues, having the students each bring in a couple boxes is more communist (from each to each) than socialist (paid for by the government). There is, by the way, a significant government interest in providing tissues: prevention (to the extent possible) of disease transmission. Generally, though, teachers seem to prefer to spend their classroom budget (if any) on things that parents won’t typically supply with a little prompting.

    Often, purchased supplies are thrown into a common pool just because it’s so much easier for the teacher to manage than trying to keep track of who owns what and mediating “he stole my pencil” disputes; even the most capitalist of teachers has to bow to practicality.

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