Guest Post by Melissa McCreery
As parents and caregivers around the country are in the midst of back-to-school shopping – stressing over the latest trend or which electronic device to purchase – it can be hard to keep perspective. I’ve talked to a number of parents over the last few weeks frustrated by the long lines at the store, the vanishing pencil and paper supply, and the lengthy lists of preparatory tools provided by their children’s school.
In the midst of the gargantuan lines and crowded aisles (trust me, I can definitely sympathize!) I think it’s increasingly important to stop and celebrate the very fact that you have to participate in the back-to-school shopping ritual. That is, celebrate the fact that your child is, in fact, going back to school. That you have resources to buy pencils, notebooks and maybe even a new cell phone.
Whether your child is an anxious kindergartener or seasoned high schooler, the fact that they have access to an education is something to be cherished. It is something extraordinary; something coveted by millions of people around the world.
- 61 million school-age children around the world do not enroll in primary school because they have to work to survive or because there is no school where they live.
- 250 million children around the world cannot read or count.
- Only 6.7 percent of the world’s population will earn a college degree.
The battles facing children and the education system today are not just global issues. In fact, right here in the United States, millions of children herald the start of the school year for the stability it provides in an unstable and unpredictable world.
- 31 million low-income children receive free or reduced-price meals each year through the National School Lunch program. Unfortunately, just 2.3 million children participated in the Summer Food Service Program. For these children, going back to school means knowing they will have lunch that day. Going back to school means a full stomach.
- In Deschutes County last year, 51% of public school children were eligible to receive free or reduced price lunches during the school year.
- 15 million children in the United States live in households that cannot provide all the resources they need to succeed in school.
- Ensuring each student is equipped to succeed often falls on teachers who spend on average $365 per year out-of-pocket to supply their students and classrooms.
So as you’re checking items off lists and waiting in long crowded lines, consider whether your child needs the latest electronic gadget or whether a good old-fashioned notebook and pencil will do. Most importantly, stop and say thank you that your child has a back-to-school list and that he/she has the privilege of attending school. After all, “Education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela.