MYRTLE BEACH — Parents are poring over school supply lists to fulfill their children’s back-to-school stash, and counting pennies to keep costs down, a task that’s likely to become more of a challenge in the future as teachers add technology to the composition book and glue stick requests.
Horry County Schools’ elementary and middle school students are required to bring an assortment of items that can include everything from those glue sticks and child scissors, to clipboards and three-ring binders. Each school has its own supply list, broken out by grade, and they are posted on the school district’s website and can be found at some of the big box stores.
“It’s not like when I went to school,” said Heather Suggs, whose son will be starting kindergarten at Seaside Elementary School this year. “I remember buying school clothes to wear, but not having to get these other things.”
Suggs said she spent $48 on just the required items from the list and did her shopping at Wal-Mart over the recent tax-free weekend. She said supplying tissues and dry erase markers bothers her a bit, but she doesn’t blame the schools because they are underfunded.
She did note that her son had to provide ear buds, a more expensive item, which is a nod to increase in technology being used in class. Ear buds were a popular requirement on most supply lists for all grade levels, and at least one middle school recommended jump drives for all students.
Teachers at individual schools have agreed on needs at each grade level, but those needs are not uniform from school to school by grade level, and lists are only available at the elementary and middle school levels, said Teal Britton, HCS spokeswoman.
“They are a lot better than they used to be,” she said
The cost to parents is not supposed to total more than $15 for elementary schools and $20 at the middle school level, and the items should be essential to the child’s use. Britton said brand names are discouraged, and the lists should not include cleaning supplies or items that can be paid for through the school’s budget.
While parents may not have bigger-ticket items spelled out for them on a list, there’s no question they must keep an eye on technology needs for their children in the future. Students already use iPads and other devices in the classroom, and experts say more technology is going to become as commonplace for learning as it already is for society in general.
“A lot of the literature suggests the changes we see in class are consistent with what we see in all changes in human behavior and with the advantages mobility is providing us in daily functions,” said Joe Winslow, an associate professor and coordinator of the Masters in Education program at Coastal Carolina University, which features a specialization in instructional technology. “You’re going to eventually be able to assume that everybody will have something.”
Winslow said providers are standardizing technology so that even basic phones have predominantly yielded to smart phones with data plans. He said companies such as Apple and Microsoft are battling to get ahead in the education market, and the plethora of choices creates problems for educators.
“It presents a real conundrum for policymakers and districts that have to decide that they need students to have this minimal level of technology access,” Winslow said. “There’s also the ongoing social issue of who bears the burden of paying.”
Winslow said it is probably shortsighted to predict the future, but technology will be standard.A better recommendation for educators will be to tell parents to purchase technology to meet minimum criteria and to focus on functionality.
“Historically whenever there’s a new innovation, eventually we stop thinking about it as an innovation and more as a tool,” Winslow said. “At one point, surely we thought of chalk as technology, or the overhead transparency as cutting-edge technology.
“Parents will eventually think of mobile computing devices the same way they thought of notebooks,” he said, “as an essential tool for the classroom -- just another tool.”
Contact VICKI GROOMS at 443-2401 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_VickiGrooms.