Schools supply clothing

When I was in school, we bought our own school supplies: Books, notebooks, pens, pencils, paper, rulers, protractors, even a slide rule in high school. Now schools expect to provide everything for students from calculators to clothing, reports the New York Times. Some districts arrange for parent groups to donate school uniforms to low-income students. In Elizabeth, New Jersey, the district simply buys two sets of clothes for all students, regardless of financial need.

The Elizabeth (New Jersey) school district has spent more than $2 million since January 2006 to buy navy blazers, khaki pants, polo shirts, gym shorts and even socks as part of a new policy to put all its students in uniforms.

The district, which serves mostly poor and minority families, has outfitted more than 9,000 students — nearly half its enrollment — so far as it phases in the uniforms a few schools at a time over five years to spread out the cost.

“They’re just getting another school supply; that’s how we see it,” said the Elizabeth superintendent, Pablo Muñoz, noting that schools had long provided uniforms for athletic teams, choirs and marching bands.

Parents are supposed to replace the clothing as children grow. If it’s just another school supply, that hardly seems fair.

Andrea Torres, a machine operator who is a single mother, said she usually spent at least $300 on back-to-school clothes for her 8-year-old son, Jordy Mora. But this year, she is buying him only sneakers, since the school has provided the rest. “It’s a lot of money,” she said. “I’m going to pay bills and buy myself clothes.”

I’ll bet two sets of the school uniform costs a lot less than $300.

About Joanne


  1. Now schools expect to provide everything for students from calculators to clothing, reports the New York Times.

    The New York Times may report this, but at *my* local school district, there were posted lists of things the students were expected to bring. The lists were broken out by grade level. Some grade levels included cash amounts.

    -Mark Roulo

  2. timfromtexas says:

    Just demand better and much less expensive textbooks,and then spend $600 per student for uniforms. The district would at least break even on the money side, and would benefit greatly on the academic side.

  3. Walter E. Wallis says:

    How about uniforms for teachers and parents?

  4. Uniform items can be inexpensive–Old Navy has a uniform line, for instance. Unfortunately, Mills (which my daughter’s private school is affiliated with) isn’t cheap. Just a few days ago, I spent $93 to order one embroidered polo shirt, one plaid jumper, and one cardigan. I suppose that isn’t totally unreasonable, but it all adds up. I’ve certainly spent over $300 by now on a very minimal uniform wardrobe. On the bright side, it’s amazing how little clothing a child needs when there’s a uniform at school. Another happy fact is that the school maintains a uniform closet so that parents can easily sell outgrown items to each other and also runs a big used uniform sale during the summer.

  5. timfromtexas, that’s hilarious! We could solve all our problems by just demanding better quality for less money.

  6. timfromtexas says:

    We can solve some problems in just that way. It is hilarious how much is spent on textbooks. My son’s Algebra 1 text contains 1020 dizzying, multi-colored pages. How many print-pages are actually utilized, maybe 125 at best? Wow, and all those cute, colored pictures really inspire the students. This is the case, more or less, for most texts used in this country. It’s ridiculous and extremely wasteful.

  7. timfromtexas-
    Agreed. The oversized textbook craze is largly responsible for many of the back problems that students are developing. There is no reason that a 5th or 6th grader should be using a text larger than most of what I used in college.

  8. Walter E. Wallis says:

    $100.00 laptop and a bundle of CDs.Forget books.

  9. My kids were expected to take supplies to elementary school, and they were not allowed to keep them. Everything was put together, and would be available to all the students when they needed them. So, new rulers, scissors, protractors, etc every year, even though the old ones were likely in perfect order. I wonder where they all went to.