Unfortunately, it won’t be a level playing field for academics among all students for the obvious reason — money.
Not all households will have the means for providing a full contingent of school supplies for their children. For this reason, some youngsters will arrive at school fully tooled in the material needs of their classrooms; some will come partially prepared due to their parents’ limited budgets; and sadly, some will have little or none.
It isn’t the fault of any one person, home or circumstance.
The reasons are multiple.
Some parents could be out of work; in the case of a single mom, the problem is compounded. The same can be said for the single dad who is raising children on his own.
Some families could be staggered by catastrophic illness where too great a portion of the household budget is being spent on medicine, doctors’ bills and appointments; again, the problem becomes critical when insurance is not there to help carry the load.
Some residents remain in the midst of recovery from the tornadoes of April 27, 2011, a time of devastation 15 months ago from which local observers would have felt the rebuild of most victims’ lives is complete or at least nearing a new normal; yet, and again sadly, this is not always the case. A simple drive through some of our community’s hardest hit areas will verify this unfortunate truth.
Some workers are caught in low-paying careers and with children to raise, food to buy and bills to pay, many parents must work two or three low-paying jobs for sheer survival; and this does not include the annual seasonal need for school supplies.
Nowhere that we know is it written that all children are guaranteed the same opportunity for a quality education. It is a sound principle, but its practice is far too dependent upon the socioeconomic environment of the homes that send their children to school. In truth, most children have the financial backing needed for education. But many do not.
It is this group of children — the “have nots” — that new community programming is seeking to reach.
A few of these initiatives are offered through civic organizations, churches, private companies or maybe even the schools themselves. And sometimes even the teachers themselves are using their own hard-earned money to pay for needed supplies for their students.
Two such programs that have come to our attention include “Stuff the Bus,” a partnership between a major nonprofit, a private company and a local radio station to fill a yellow bus with school supplies that will be distributed among the city and county school systems; and the other is the third annual School Supply Provision sponsored by The Refuge Community Centre. We addressed the excellent Refuge initiative in Tuesday’s edition.
As for “Stuff the Bus,” it is a worthwhile project co-sponsored by United Way of Bradley County Inc., Don Ledford Automotive Center and WCLE Mix 104.1. On Saturday, Aug. 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., area residents are asked to bring their school-supply donations to Ledford Automotive where they will be stuffed into the bus and divided between our two school systems for use by students in need.
We encourage area residents to consider making their own shopping excursions and to include a few items for “Stuff the Bus.”
A generic list of school supplies needed and additional information may be found on the United Way website at www.unitedwaybc.com and on the organization’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/unitedway-bradleycounty.
Whether through “Stuff the Bus,” The Refuge Community Centre or other back-to-school drives, we encourage residents to help if possible.
Education is a genuine gift to young minds, but its field of opportunity must sometimes be tilted by the outreach of a caring community.