By Nikki Darling, TSB Staff
With the start of the school year comes the back-to-school shopping kids anticipate and budgets dread. There is the new backpack, the pencil case, the fancy binders and folders, and the list goes on. Trip after trip to the store racks up the budget before classes even begin.
But even after classes begin, costs still add up. And if you have enough money, would you believe that cash on hand can help your grade?
Having graduated high school here in McKinney in 2011, I have seen that often teachers offer their students extra credit or bonus points for bringing in school supplies for the room, such as Kleenex boxes, hand sanitizer, expo markers, etc. While my mom was always willing to provide these for me to help my grade, our hearts went out to those who aren’t able to do so. There are well off students who can afford to buy some extra school supplies, but there are also those who struggle financially in the same classroom. Some of those students worry if they will be able to eat breakfast or dinner that day; they are not given the luxury of worrying about buying extra school supplies. It just even isn’t an option.
Fairness is a major issue when this goes on. So many schools pride themselves on giving each student a fair opportunity to succeed based upon academics and hard work. While many classrooms hold inspirational posters about this “fairness,” bonus points are being given away not for academics or hard work but for the amount of money mommy and daddy have in their pockets. And that is simply not right. Certainly not all teachers offer this advantage, but those who do are giving an unfair advantage to those students who can afford to buy their grade as opposed to those who cannot afford to do so.
There are programs that can provide school supplies for underprivileged students so that they are prepared for class. But while this gives these students the ability to keep up in class, thanks to the appropriate writing utensils and organizers such as binders and folders, it does not provide students the extra materials teachers are asking for to suffice for the bonus points.
“It is difficult for me to see friends in my classes get extra credit, when I am not able to do that,” said a former McKinney Boyd student who I talked to that wished not to be named. “My family can’t afford to buy me extra packs of expo markers for my teachers so I don’t get the extra credit. It makes it awkward, and I don’t think it’s fair that I don’t get the same opportunities those other students get.”
Again, not all teachers chose to participate in this during my years in school. From experience, approximately a third of teachers offered these non-academic-related bonus points, but that fact that it is going on at all questions the true fairness that is offered at public schools.
What do you think? Do you agree with me? Should this be allowed to take place in the classroom?