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 â€” nearly half its enrollment â€” so far as it phases in the uniforms a few schools at a time over five years to spread out the cost.
â€œTheyâ€™re just getting another school supply; thatâ€™s how we see it,â€ said the Elizabeth superintendent, Pablo MuÃ±oz, 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. â€œItâ€™s a lot of money,â€ she said. â€œIâ€™m going to pay bills and buy myself clothes.â€
I’ll bet two sets of the school uniform costs a lot less than $300.