indiana charges for public school. what?!


let me preface this post by saying i have had a “bit of a day” today.

and when i went shopping for school supplies (see above photo) for three boys, things seemed to get worse.


just ask anyone who was anywhere near me in the school supply aisle, because they all heard me. including one woman who either has 10 kids (totally possible, though she was alone and really skinny) or is a teacher.

it was ugly. (though the kids were laughing at me as i railed against the entire scenario, which at the time was, i admit, a  bit funny, but now i realize may not have been the best idea since my first-grader may just repeat some of the things i had to say about the situation once he gets to school next week. and yes. the kids start school already next week. in my day, we started school AFTER labor day. don’t get me started on that, too. shit.)


today’s shopping extravaganza went something like this:

me: aww. how sweet. look. the list says the teachers prefer crayola. isn’t that nice. i bet they do. i say we get some generic brand just because we can.

grant: LOL. (and by LOL, i mean he SAID LOL, which is even worse than typing LOL. i told him to never, ever say that again because he sounds absolutely ridiculous.) yes! let’s. great idea …

… but mom, the crayola ones are on sale for 97 cents.

me, feeling defeated: shit. of course. give me four boxes.

a few minutes later …

me: what happened to the days when you just showed up at school with a metal lunch box and a trapper keeper? geeeeezus.

eli: what?

me: nevermind.

a few minutes (and lots of swearing and grumbling later):

me: i seriously am not buying dry erase markers or highlighters. is luke really going to use those? he’s in first grade for crying out loud. this is stupid.

grant: no. those are for the teachers.

me: they can forget it. i’m over this. they aren’t getting all the crap on this list.

other mom looks at me and moves cart–with small children–quickly away from me.

then i touched a box of pencils and it exploded. wonderful. i’m not picking them up.

another mom hears me grumble about teachers wanting certain brand names and me not wanting to comply. she laughs, looks at me and says, “i’m with ya. i’m doing the same thing. going against the grain.”

yeah. that’ll teach ’em.

and so it went. up and down the aisles of walmart. (and yes, we went to walmart. kill me now. because … you know why? they’re cheap. yes, they are evil, but they are cheap. and dammit, i’m so irritated by this entire back-to-school bullshit that i could scream. and you know what? it’s NOT like it was when i was in school. you know why? because we aren’t in pennsylvania anymore, folks. we live in one of the few states in the entire country (3 or 9, depending on which article you read) that CHARGES KIDS TO GO TO PUBLIC SCHOOL.


and when you have three kids in school, it adds up. quickly.

and i’m running out of sanity.

so here’s the deal.

in 2006, school fees were ruled unconstitutional in Indiana in the case of Frank Nagy v. Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corp. Know why? Because of this:

Article 8, Section 1 of the Indiana Constitution

Knowledge and learning, generally diffused throughout a community, being essential to the preservation of a free government; it shall be the duty of the General Assembly to encourage, by all suitable means, moral, intellectual, scientific, and agricultural improvement; and to provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all.

after the ruling, this happened:

“We are pleased the court decided the Indiana Constitution prohibits the Evansville school corporation from imposing a fee for services that are essential to young Hoosiers’ education,” said ACLU attorney Jacquelyn Bowie Suess.

awesome sauce.

but wait. there’s more to this story.

while ruling that the $20 service fee was unconstitutional, the idea of charging for textbooks was brought up, again, and quickly dodged. (it has supposedly been an issue in the courts for 20-plus years …)

according to an article dated August 18, 2008 on the Indiana Law Blog:

“The Indiana Supreme Court has succeeded supremely in dodging this issue. The solution is for the General Assembly to face up to the state’s responsibility to cover the cost of public education, as the Constitution requires — including textbooks.

That would mean changing the Indiana Code.

But the Indiana Code, enacted by the General Assembly, says that school systems may charge students to rent textbooks.”

so. here we are.

a quick investigation into how much book rental fees will be this year for our family finds that price will come in between $294 and $350. not sure, because i’m only finding old numbers online. we will find out once the kids go back to school.

and, by the way, that’s just it. it’s a rental fee, people. not a deposit. meaning we don’t get any of it back. and it’s not like the schools are updating the books every year. in fact, i think i read somewhere that this rental fee allows the schools to update their books about every SIX years. i could be wrong, cause i can’t find that fact now, of course, and i’m too tired to look. but one article i found online was boasting that this is a good thing because “most other states only update their textbooks every 12 years.”

uh. yeah.

so anyways … i spent almost $100 today on school supplies and am still not finished shopping. i still need to buy, according to the school lists:

  • 2 flash drives
  • 1 lanyard
  • 6 boxes of tissues
  • 1 pair of scissors
  • 2 yellow highlighters (Sharpie brand preferred)
  • 8 black dry-erase markers (EXPO preferred)
  • 1 3-inch, 3-ring binder
  • 3 reams of white copy paper
  • 1 set of addition flash cards
  • 1 set of subtraction flash cards
  • 1 3-ring pencil pouch with zipper and holes to fit into a binder

oh. and the kicker. this is printed at the bottom of the supply lists:

“Please do not label supplies with your child’s name, except for their backpack and flash drive. All supplies will be stored at the school and used as COMMUNITY SUPPLIES.”

you know what? you ask me for all this crap and i would LOVE it if you’d allow my kids to actually use what we bought.

and this is just the tip of the iceberg, people. i still have to pay for a band instrument and a fee for my kid to run in cross country, which is probably a normal thing at schools around the country. but still. it’s a huge amount of money all hitting at once. and it’s not all necessary.

our government, our elected officials, need to do something to lessen the burden on families in indiana. it’s time. it’s the right thing to do. and it should’ve been done years ago.


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