Response to recent conversation

Commenters on the AJC Get Schooled blog had a range of reactions to whether teachers ought to keep a stash of pencils and paper for forgetful students. They also disagreed on whether teachers can penalize students who repeatedly show up without supplies. Here is a sampling of comments:

SGATeacher: Federal law, as you know, does not "require" parents to purchase materials for school. Schools have to provide some materials. My school district has a disclaimer that if students continually abuse the privilege, such as being forgetful or in another instance, a student who would break the pencil each day the teacher gave him one and throw it on the floor, the students are responsible for their own materials.

Dg417: I don't lend out writing utensils, paper, calculators etc (if a student's pen runs out of ink, I do make an exception here) - but I tell my student that in the class of up to 36, I am sure that one of their peers has one that they may borrow. If there is a county standardized test which requires No. 2 pencil, I will make them available for one of the following forms of collateral: Photo ID, powered off electronic device, left shoe, or $100 Federal Reserve Note. Collateral is returned when my pencil is returned.

Logical: I think the child should remember their pencil. I do not think it is appropriate for the teacher to give a zero for a student forgetting a pencil. I think the school should have supplies for the children, including extra pencils and paper. I do not think teachers should spend their own money on supplies. I do not think parents should be responsible for those silly "send home" lists that basically beg for supplies. I think schools should get enough revenue to pay for the "necessities" that they annually beg from the parents.

HeWhoSaves: My wife is a 15 year educator in Fulton and, since I do the shopping at our house, my shopping list always has school supplies for her students. No, I shouldn't have to buy supplies for others' kids but it was just simpler for my wife to have extras on hand. Interestingly enough, she said the kids who never had supplies routinely showed up with iPhones and new sneakers.

Jeremy: You will get zeros and failing grades in college if you do not bring a pencil for the exam. You will be sent home from the job site if you do not bring your tools. Perhaps middle school is a bit early to teach these lessons, but when should we start? It seems right now we wait until the students actually transition to college and/or the job site and, by then, the stakes are high and real damage can be done.

Lreich: Although it is true that students are more prepared to learn when they come to school with necessary supplies, grades and behavior should not be connected. Student grades should reflect their mastery of the standards in the class — what they know or are able to do. I haven't seen anywhere in Georgia Standards where bringing necessary supplies is required. There are many solutions to the lack of school supplies that students display — such as gathering freebies from local banks or businesses — that will not place additional burdens on teachers or families. School leadership teams, school councils, and business partners can help to solve these issues.