Our point of view: Pony up, parents! “Back to school” means spending rule – now more than ever


Artwork by Ken Schop
With higher prices on everything these days, families with school kids will on average spend more than $800 on clothing, gear and school supplies this year, bringing the price to more than the average of the year. year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Somewhere between the graph paper and glue sticks on your family’s back-to-school supply list, add inflation to the litany of things you’ll pay for.
With higher prices on everything these days, families with school-going kids will spend an average of $864 on clothing, gear and school supplies this year. That’s $15 more than last year, according to the National Retail Federation.
In the organization’s just-released Back-to-School and Back-to-University 2022 survey, overall spending for the upcoming school year will at least match last year’s record high of $37 billion, which has exceeded pre-pandemic levels.
Despite this robust spending structure, parents will spend more, but receive less. Almost half of parents surveyed said they expected to buy fewer products this year, focusing on basic necessities due to the impact of inflation.
For example, items like computers, dorm furniture, and other supplies have seen inflation ranging from 2% to 22% since 2019. Since then, total planned spending has increased by 36% for back-to-school and 41% for university expenses.
Here in Grosse Pointe, parents face the costs of school-issued supply lists to start the school year, whether they have students in a public, private or parochial school.
While this never seemed like a “suggested” list versus a mandatory list for public school parents, our district is actually mandated by the Michigan Department of Education to provide certain “necessary” supplies to students, including pencils, paper, pencils, scissors and glue stick.
For example, language on Kerby Elementary School’s supply list for 2021-22 included the following:
“Students at Kerby School receive many necessary school supplies and textbooks that are mandated by the Michigan Department of Education. However, parents who prefer their children to have their own personal school supplies may wish to purchase some or all of the supplies listed below.
Who knew our kids might have been sharing supplies all this time? Ticonderogas for everyone! That’s good news for families who end up with the obscenely long receipt from Target or Staples every August.
Also add to Grosse Pointers’ annual purchases the plentiful supplies of antibacterial wipes, Kleenex, and paper towels provided by parents (and teachers!), even before COVID hit. We say the pointers are doing a great job helping our classrooms be fully equipped to kick off the school year.
Oh, we almost forgot the electronics. It goes without saying that no student could really navigate school without their own laptop, so put the parents to the test. You are also free to provide your young students with a phone, laptop, Chromebook, or iPad for use in class, thanks to our district’s “bring your own device” policy.
In fairness, BYOD is standard practice in Michigan’s public school districts, and our district lends Chromebooks to those who need them. So at least there is that help.
What if you have children in both age groups? Cha Ching! Put away that bathroom remodel vision board, because Best Buy or the Apple Store absorbs that funding. This assumes, of course, that you even had it in the first place.
The fact remains that parents will continue to hear the beeps of a cash register in their heads, in keeping with the upper lip sweat beads that form at the checkout line with each item that enters the basket.
The optics might suggest Big Pointers aren’t overly concerned about what it will cost to get ready for the new school year, but the fact is, everyone is feeling the pressure on their wallets.
And a gentle reminder: just when you step out for some fresh air after dropping your kids off at college, remember that you also have to pay your high school student’s Pay-to-Play sports fees and/or for your high school student’s musical instrument and yearbook, or your elementary school’s PTO fee.
It may sound like the cadence of the children’s classic, “If You Give a Pig a Pancake.” Only the version back in class is “If you want to give a parent a panic attack”. And as the book says, you’ll probably decide you need a “syrup” (read: a cocktail) to go with it.
So in the event that we have raised your blood pressure or heart rate a bit, we recommend that you start shopping. I hope you can take advantage of all the offers and promotions, or make comparisons between different stores. Buy locally where you can, and maybe you can recycle your mileage receipt into a notebook, while you’re at it.
At least you’ll have plenty of glue sticks to work with.


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