I have noticed a trend in the last ten years in schools, which I like to call the “Big Binder Revolution.” It seems that for every single class, a student now needs a binder. Oh, and not just any binder. There are very detailed specifications for 1.5″ binders or larger (they cost more, by the way), specific colors, having a front insert, etc. etc.
Their Poor Backs
The average high school student juggles six or seven classes per semester. That means at least six thick textbooks, a notebook for each class, a folder for the gazillion papers passed out and for some classes binders, too.
In a UC Riverside study, researchers found that a high percentage of middle school students had ongoing pain due to the weight of their backpacks.
Since students do quite a bit of homework that also means lugging books, binders and other supplies to and from school. It is just too much.
Middle School Binder Mania
When my youngest started middle school, I spent over $55 on just binders. Yep. Not only did each and every class require a binder, but many classes required the bigger binders that are pretty expensive. One binder had to be 2-3″ and cost $10.00. No, they didn’t have one at Walmart, I checked. The ones at the Dollar Tree are 1/2″ to 1″.
Personally, I don’t see why these wouldn’t be fine. Just empty the binders every so often if they get full.
I get the thinking behind the binders, sort of. It is a great way to get and stay organized and they are trying to teach the kids organization and study habits to help them juggle more difficult high school classes. However, a better use of the binders would be for students to keep them on a shelf in the classroom instead of having to lug them around.
And, do we really need a binder for computer class? Isn’t all the work in there done on the… I don’t know… computer?
Cost of School Supplies
In a couple of weeks, I’m going to share my tips for saving on school supplies. However, I want any educator reading this to stop and think for a moment about the hardship buying all these binders puts on families. If I spent $55 a few years back on required binders, imagine how much more they are today.
I am frugal. I didn’t just go out and buy the most expensive binders I could locate. I shopped around, got what I could cheap and bought what I had to. I put off buying the $10.00 binder so long that the teacher told my daughter if she didn’t have it the next day that her grade would be impacted. Seriously? I guess her A work wasn’t enough, she needed the big binder to really be a good student. Cough. Cough.
We are middle class. We were able to spend $10 and budget elsewhere to make up for that cost. But, what about families that are on such a tight budget that they really don’t have an extra $10? Does the teacher expect them to go without eating to buy a 3″ binder? Or maybe they can do without electricity for a month to buy school supplies.
If we HAVE to use these binders that I have come to hate, then can’t we just stick with a standard 1/2″ or 1″ that can be easily found and inexpensively purchased?
Gasp…Defy the Teachers
As my girls got older, I started to ignore many of the items on their school supply lists. While I don’t mind helping out and buying a box or two of tissues, when they hit middle school and high school every teacher wants something. The costs started to add up. While I don’t want any teacher to have to spend money out of her own pocket to buy something like tissues, I also refuse to be the only parent bothering to supply them.
The final straw for me was the day my daughter needed a tissue and the teacher told her to go get some toilet paper from the bathroom because she only had a few boxes (aka none of the other parents bothered to send in tissue). I had purchased two boxes of tissue for this class. I am positive my daughter didn’t come close to using even one box as she rarely has a drippy nose.
That was when I decided I would ignore that request and instead purchase little packs of tissue for my girls to keep in their lockers. When the teacher requested a 2″ binder, I bought a 1″ binder and just laid low. It was more than roomy enough for her work and the teacher never said anything. I saved money.
So, when you get your school lists this year and you see that very specific binder listed see if you can get buy with a Dollar Tree binder instead. If they teacher demands a different binder, you’ve only spent $1.00 and you can be certain that at some point the school will require yet another binder and you’ll be able to use that one, too.