McGregor Says: The rising cost of crayons

There was a bit of morning fog and the evening coffee on the deck was a tad chilly. I had a suspicion that August was trying to sneak past us and creep quietly into September before we noticed.

Then as I was leafing through the flyers I noticed an ad for ‘Back to School.’ I smiled at that knowing that those frustrating days were long behind me. I can see me as a kid trudging behind Mom and Dad as Mom read from the list and Dad complained about the cost of crayons, glue, paste, pencils, and paper.

Then of course there were all the new clothes and multiply that times five kids.

Then I could see me as the Dad, following my wife as she read from the list and I complained about the cost of everything. “An electronic calculator!? How the hell are they going to learn to add, subtract, multiply and divide if we give them all a bloody calculator? I learned to do math with a pencil and paper. When they get a job, is their boss going to give them a bloody calculator!?”

Of course I complained about the cost of new shoes, jeans, dresses, backpacks and winter coats. I had to, I was a Dad and that is what I had been taught to do.

But then I took a second look at that Back to School flyer and realized the ads were not about pencils or crayons and there was no mention of shoes or jeans, they were all about the electronic gadgets and computer related products that would promise “an A+ School Year.”

Instead of paste and glue there were advertising  IPads, Smartphones, ear buds, flash drives, tablets, software, laptop bags, printers, selfie sticks and even an ergonomic mouse. As I checked out the prices, I realized I had gotten off easy paying a mere $15.99 for the Canon LC-33 Electronic Calculator I was forced to buy 30 years ago. I know that is the model number because I still have it here on my desk in my office and it still works just fine.

A quick calculation of just the first page of the ad (using the trusty LC-33) comes to over $1,000. I’m not buying back to school stuff but I’m having an anxiety attack for those Dads that are.

A survey shows that Langley elementary school students these days are required to buy almost $100 of school supplies and that doesn’t include the electronic gizmos and gadgets.

I can remember having a supply closet at the back of the room in elementary school and we could get stuff we needed from there during the year. But each year, school supply budgets are reduced and many teachers will pay over $500 a year out of their own pockets to provide for classroom materials. A Federal Tax Credit of $150 was introduced this year for teachers who are buying supplies to be used in the classroom. I’ll bet their spouses, most of them Dads, are complaining about the costs.

I’m sure we all remember the excitement of that first day of school showing up with new clothes, sharp pencils and a bag full of school supplies.  But it’s not cheap now.

Maybe those of us that remember those special September days can check with the local schools and find out which families might need some help putting those memories together. At least that’s what McGregor says.

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