Rob Jenkins: Another new school year, another lesson in basic Socialism

Rob Jenkins

Rob Jenkins

The first lesson of the new school year is delivered even before classes convene, when Mom and Dad download little Johnny and Susie's supply lists. Call it Socialism 101. If the course had a textbook, it would be Hillary Clinton's "It Takes a Village."

Consider the list for one local third-grade class, sent in by an alert reader, which includes "two large boxes Kleenex tissue." I don't know about your third-grader, but when my boys were in third grade, they probably wouldn't have used one tissue the entire year. I mean, what are shirt-sleeves for?

Nor would they have used 1,000 pieces of notebook paper, even though the list calls for "two 500-count lined notebook paper." OK, they might have used 700 or 800, mostly to make paper airplanes. But not 1,000.

To put these lists in perspective, and understand why I refer to them as examples of socialism, let's extrapolate for a moment. Say you have a class of 30 kids. If each child brings two boxes of Kleenex, that's 60 boxes. Does anyone seriously believe there's a classroom in this entire country that will go through 60 boxes of tissue this year -- almost two a week? If so, please, let's go ahead and quarantine them now.

Of course no class will use 60 boxes of tissue, and every teacher knows it. But here's the catch: no teacher actually expects to end up with 60 boxes. If all 30 students are asked to provide two boxes apiece, 10 might actually do it. That's 20 boxes, which a typical third-grade class might realistically exhaust, given a normal flu season and several screenings of "Bambi."

What this means, basically, is that those parents who slavishly adhere to the supply list -- mind-numbed automatons/public-school products that we are -- provide Kleenex (and notebook paper, and hand sanitizer, and so forth) for kids whose families either don't have the means to supply those items themselves or else are too sorry to do so.

All of which seems curiously reminiscent of Karl Marx's famous dictum, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." Of course, Marx was predicting the demise of capitalism, the elimination of economic classes through re-education, and the rise of a new communal society. I'm merely predicting the nasal output of third-graders.

The worst part is, we've been so thoroughly conditioned to accept this kind of de facto socialism that we don't really give it much thought. After all, it's just a little socialism. It's not like the government is taking over banks and car manufacturers.

Oh, wait ...

Still, I console myself with the thought that America has not yet fully evolved into the socialist Utopia that Marx envisioned. Because while it may take a village to raise a child, it only takes a school to blow his nose.

Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and college professor. E-mail him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter@rjenkinsgdp.


jjhayden3rd 3 years, 3 months ago

No, What this means is that we underfund public education to the extent that the two groups most effected, parents/gaurdians and teachers must make up the difference. This is eth same as asking the heavy equipment operator to provide the fuel for his/her machines.


John 3 years, 3 months ago

Sorry, but I recall from my days in elementary school, K-6, we had to bring our own supplies to class and if we didn't have them we could buy them from an in-school supply store that was open before the first class started. From that point on we were expected to bring our supplies for classes each day & every day. Secondly, teachers are provided an allowance for extras each school year - I realize it is not a ton of money but it is better than a stick in the eye. Thirdly, based on an earlier report that there is a record percentage of students getting "free" lunch & breakfast - that does cost the school system 9tax payers) money. Seems like some parents/guardians regardless of income are taking full advantage of this "free bee".


covington300 3 years, 3 months ago

It definitely means we underfund the classroom but why let facts get in the way of a good argument...everyone love to bash schools as an example of Socialism and many give Marx "credit" for the concept...as a history teacher I challenge you "über smart capitalist religious conservatives" to bash the original socialist - Jesus. Maybe you guys should reevaluate and the listen to the Gospels and even read the lesser known ones and truly live His word...


georgianbornandbred 3 years, 3 months ago

Misunderstanding the title, I thought this column would be about education. No, it was about having to contribute too much to schools! My concern when my daughters were in school was having them graduate with an ability to do well and a record of having done excellently. It never occurred to me to be second-guessing Kleenex boxes. My daughters became an actuary and a chemical engineer, both employed. I wonder what would have happened if I had focused on the Kleenex boxes rather than their educations?


dennistay53 3 years, 3 months ago

For sure some of you don't pay property tax. Newton County property owners for sure fund the Newton County School System at a rate higher than most all other Georgia Counties. The problem lies with the high number of high paid executives who are absorbing to much of the money that should be going to teachers and the needs of the students. The words are wrong priorties and poor management of our system. How many boxes of tissues or notebook paper could be bought with the money spent by a board member on a unneccessary trip to Washington DC? How much more needs of the children could be taken care of if ALL parents had to foot the cost of running the school system and not just property owners? The problem is not under funding - it;s under management.


Bemused 3 years, 3 months ago

Actually, kids do go through this many tissues/packs of paper/bottles of hand sanitizer and then some. Feel free to go and observe in any first grade classroom this winter when flu season is raging on to see just how many boxes one class can go through. I'm a room parent in my child's elementary class and I can speak from personal experience.

I want to know why you and others think its fair that a teacher has to pay for these items out of their own pockets (because the school does not provide these creature comforts any more)?

Don't want to contribute your fair share? Home school you kids then!


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