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What in the world is Fun-Tak?

It's that time of year...back to school!  I'm not sure who is more excited about this: the kids or me.  But, the reality of it is, the preparation for back to school isn't always easy or fun - and my kids aren't even in elementary school yet!

Both my kids will be in preschool this coming school year, and we're trying out a different school with the Pre-K child, so I'm learning about the nature of two different types of preschools.  One is a nationwide chain and the other a smaller, faith-based school.  Both have very high reputations within our community, but there's a big difference...cost and preparation.

The nationwide chain school - while locally owned - has a much higher tuition rate and doesn't require any parental volunteer work, fundraising or purchase of communal/student supplies.  The other local school has much what appears to be an average tuition rate (amongst other local preschools) but requires 10 hours of parental volunteer work throughout the year, child/parent fundraising and I was given a lengthy supply list (all of which becomes community property once handed over to the teacher).

While I don't have a problem paying for school supplies, I do have to ask the question, why do I have to buy supplies for the school?  To me, it's not about the cost of the supplies (although it did cost over $80 for one child to purchase all supplies on the list).  No, it's about the fact that the list was so specific that it required over two hours of searching multiple stores in order to find what I can only hope are the right supplies (I still don't know if tropical waterproof Crayola markers will be an adequate substitute for the pastel waterproof Crayola markers on the list, but I decided to stop searching).

Personally, I have been a teacher and know that too much personal money is spent on preparing a classroom.  Most teachers don't mind this because they have a passion for education, but as a parent, I do mind because I worry that an amazing teacher who can't always afford to purchase those extra, yet needed, supplies will seek out other career options in order to make ends meet for his/her family.  I also worry that the personal cost to be a teacher is too high and that it may lead to a teacher spending the day wondering how to meet personal finances instead of meeting student goals.  But, this is a digression.

Back to the topic at large...what in the world is Fun-Tak?  It was on my school supply list.  I searched the school supplies area of multiple stores and couldn't find it.  I searched the office supply area of these same stores and couldn't find it.  I asked multiple other moms walking around with older kids who have done this school supply shopping for much longer than myself, they didn't know.  I asked store clerks who should have a pretty decent idea of what is sold within their store, they didn't know.  So, the question then should be asked, if no one knows what this necessary school supply is, then why am I required to purchase it?  Why not include a supply fee in the tuition rates - or have a supply fee for public school education - that allows the teacher to go out and purchase the exact supplies that are needed to fulfill the year's education goals?

I'm sure there's no easy answer to this question, and the answers will change depending on different socioeconomic statuses.  So then, the true question that should be asked is, what is the true cost of a child's education?  This is not just in what the child personally gains (because that's pretty much immeasurable), but in the value we place on paying for this education.  Education produces tomorrow's leaders, inventors, movers, shakers, and every other person who will step into any role/position which society utilizes (from waste disposal workers to astrophysicists).  It produces the group of people who will make financial and healthcare decisions - personally and legislatively - for us once we retire from our careers, public service, and/or become senile (as so often happens after raising the future generation!).  Whether or not you have chosen to have kids or not have kids doesn't matter.  This future generation will be making decisions that directly impact each of us. 

So, what are we willing to put forward financially now so that we can guarantee quality education that allows for peace of mind as we become recipients of future decisions and actions made from knowledge received from the current education system?

Oh, and here's what Fun-Tak is:


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