Last weekend was the tax-free shopping weekend for school supplies in North Carolina. Here in Forsyth County many parents, yours truly included, had a common problem: no supply lists from our students’ teachers. Sure we could buy the basics like pencils and paper, but any parent will tell you that every year they get a list that has some very specific items on there that you just can’t anticipate.
Heck, we’ve gotten lists that tell us which brand of a particular item to buy, apparently in an effort to avoid brand-envy among students. God forbid a kid show up with a generic binder and not the "BLACKWATER BINDER: Made of bullet-proof KEVLAR. Tested and approved by the Navy SEALS and perfect for today’s student. Available in green or pink camouflage" despite the fact that the generic costs 1/10 what the BLACKWATER costs. No, we must make sure our little
robots students all look exactly alike!
Anyway, it caused a problem for a lot of parents that we didn’t have a list of supplies for our big tax-free weekend. Who’s responsible for the lack of supply lists? Eh, I’m willing to bet the responsibility can be distributed pretty far and wide, but I have to say that the folks who write editorials for the Winston-Salem Journal cast their net of blame in the wrong direction. Here’s what they wrote:
It would be even more helpful if parents knew exactly what their children will need for school. But some parents told the Journal late last week that they had not yet received supply lists from their public schools.
The culprit here is
the school-calendar law that the General Assembly passed at the behest
of tourism and real-estate interests a few years back. For business
purposes, they wanted a later start to the school year. So, the
tax-free weekend now comes three weeks before the school bell rings,
and teachers don’t have supply lists ready.
Some will propose to push the tax-free weekend to the middle of August. We argue for a different change.
Assembly should repeal the school-calendar law and let school boards,
not real-estate agents, decide on what is best for educating our
So let me get this straight. The reason we don’t have the lists we need is because several years ago the real estate and tourism lobbies got the General Assembly to move our school start dates to later in the summer? And the way to fix the problem of our not getting the lists on time is to give the power of school scheduling back to the local school boards?
Did our school administrators and teachers not get the memo telling them that the start of the school year has been moved back? Is it too much to ask for our teachers and school administrators to adjust their schedules? And as Celeste (my lovely wife) pointed out to me, last year we received our lists before the tax-free weekend and we had the same schedule then as we do now. What changed?
Seriously, it would be like me telling my client that because this year their annual conference is two weeks earlier in the year than it was last year I didn’t get the attendees their information in time. I think the question they’d ask me as they were cancelling my contract would be, "Since we published the date of this year’s conference over a year ago shouldn’t it have occurred to you to move your timeline up so the attendees would have the information when they needed it?"
Now, I don’t disagree with the Journal about allowing local school boards to determine their own schedules, but blaming the tardiness of our teachers and administrators on the General Assembly’s actions is some seriously flawed logic. Kind of like the Journal editors’ argument that the state lottery is a tax.
Oh, don’t get me started.