School supply lists change from generation to generation. The time has passed for merely purchasing protractors and spiral notebooks, and parents now have to aid their children’s digital needs for school.
In elementary schools, teacher ask for various types of supplies, depending on the school and grade and—often with individualized lesson plans—supplies that are specific to the student.
For example, teachers at Glendale’s PS 113 are asking for one-gallon Ziploc bags that are used for organizing reading materials borrowed from the school. They also ask for headphones for individualized lesson plans on a student’s school computer.
The complete cost of the list could range from $75 to $100, depending on the grade of the student.
“The growing number of supplies students need can become quite expensive, especially if a family has more than one student attending school at the same time,” said state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), who recently held a back-to-school drive for students in his district.
Local state and city politicians are holding similar supply drives throughout the month. One elementary school parent said that some teachers ask for them to purchase a ream of printer paper.
“That’s ballsy,” she said.
She noted that supplies often requested for parents of younger elementary school students include tissues, baby wipes and hand sanitizer.
Teachers recommend that parents send their kids—especially smaller children—to school with the supplies gradually. Such items as papers towels, tissues, and baby wipes are shared by the whole class and can be brought in at a later date. Teachers recommend that children bring in the smaller items that they need on the first day of school for their desks. Pencils, notebooks and folders are the top three items. Teachers also recommend that children come to school without a bookbag on the first day because parents could wait for them to go on sale.
But Miranda Barbot, a spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Education, said that city schools are prepared to provide the necessary items for children whose parents cannot afford to purchase them.
“Our schools ensure that every student has the supplies and materials they need to be successful, regardless of whether their families are able to purchase suggested supplies,” she said.
If parents cannot afford all of the items on the varied supply lists, Barbot confirmed that each school will make sure that students have all the supplies they need to succeed.
Frequently, teachers often reach into their own pockets to buy tools to effectively help them teach their students.
Harriet Taub—the executive director of the Materials for the Arts, which is a program with the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs—said that the program has more than two million pounds of school supplies available for New York City teachers in its Long Island City warehouse on Northern Boulevard.
“It’s back to school for us every day of the year,” Taub said.
At the end of August, Materials for the Arts put together “goody bags” for teachers with supplies that the program has collected over the course of the past year.
“It’s a large bag that they can later fill up in our warehouse,” she said. “If you are a New York City public school teacher, before you start digging into your pockets, plan a visit to Materials for the Arts. Everything is free.”
However, the program currently does not provide supplies for pre-K teachers.
Taub said that teachers are required to make an appointment to visit through their respective schools. If teachers are not sure whether their school is registered, they can email Materials for the Arts through a school email and get signed up.
She noted that if teachers cannot get to the warehouse before school starts, they can visit at any point during the school year.
“Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, use your school email, tell us your school name and your principal—and we will add you to list,” she said.
Once teachers are added to the school’s account, they can receive a password and become a member. She noted that technology has taken over the education system, and now parents might be asked to buy an iPad, so that students can email teachers.
“Some parents used to go to the dollar store, now you’re being asked to buy a piece of equipment. It’s more expensive, but probably more sustainable,” Taub said.
Taub pointed out that the Materials for the Arts warehouse has more than 50,000 binders and a number of file cabinets as well as markers, crayons, art supplies, glue sticks and paint brushes.