The absolutely most important thing, my mother used to tell me, is a good education — and this was something that nobody could take away from you. This is why my parents would always pay whatever cost necessary to give my brother and me a good education.

I remember going at the end of August to stores with my parents to pick up supplies — pencils, paper, etc. Now it seems that more than ever, the cost of buying supplies for school is going up and parents are increasingly feeling the pinch.

Between last summer and this summer elementary school costs shot up from $474 to $530 or 12 percent; middle school costs ballooned from $545 to $681 or 25 percent; and high school costs increased from $1,000 to $1,091 or 9 percent.

One reason for the jump is a continuing increase in pay-to-participate fees for sports and other extracurricular activities. Mokrzan says the fees for high school students went from $125 to $145. Middle school students can expect to pay on average about $125.

The second part, about the pay to participate fees, really threw me off. I do not remember my parents having to pay an extra fee for my being on the swim team when I was in high school, for example — it was included with paying the taxes that pay the school. The idea that parents are being hit with fees for participating in sports is a troublesome one to me because I imagine that parents may be wary of paying more money on top of the money they are already paying and thus, not wanting to stretch out their budget any further, opt their children out of sports.

This can only lead to an increasing waistline for the children in schools which down the line will lead to increased medical costs — it is well documented that as people are more overweight, their medical costs spiral out of control.

As for the other costs — supplies — I have to remember my father’s great advice on saving money in general when shopping and that is to buy more when things are on sale and this goes particularly well for buying school supplies. Some students feel that they will not prosper in school unless they have brand new textbooks and while that may work well for some, if the budget does not meet this want then they have to learn that used textbooks work just as well, particularly when it comes to subjects that have not really changed that much in years — simple arithmetic, for example.

Above all we must bear in mind that a good education for our children must come before non-necessities. If you have the budget in your home for a flat screen television, you have the budget to pay for school supplies for your children and if you don’t, then you are making your budget incorrectly, I believe.


  1. This is a sad article, Gordon. Instead of making easier, and less expensive for kids to get a basic education in America, we’re demonizing teachers and raising the price point for participation.

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