Thursday, July 12, 2007

SSA on the Cheap

There's been a lot of hand wringing by advocates of the poor who insist that the poor won't be able to find affordable SSA. Well, let the wringing cease. Ms. Cheap does what she does and provides some practical information for parents as they gear up for the new school year and complying with SSA.

She begins with:

I've heard some grousing from parents about having to pay for new school uniforms and from people predicting that already-strapped nonprofits around town will be called on to fill closets with the prescribed dress code outfits so that disadvantaged children can be dressed properly when school starts.

Well, give me a break — and let me introduce you to the world of thrift shopping, where just about any enterprising parent could put together complying outfits for just a few dollars.
And then she tells you exactly what local thrift stores are doing to meet the demand.

Ms. Cheap says it's 'pretty easy pickin's' and stores have been stockpiling in anticipation. She even shares that the Goodwill outlet will have pieces for 50 cents a piece!

Of course, if you've got a bona fide religious objection to thrift store shopping---this won't help.

MNPS provides a slide show for parents about what is and what is not acceptable SSA. They're also broadcasting it on Channel 3, if you've got cable.


Nashteach said...

Great consignment sale coming up in West Nashville, mainly featuring kids' clothing:

Once around the block Kids

Kay Brooks said...

I never did consignment sales. They always seemed too over priced. Or maybe as a sewer I didn't put much stock in the labels. :-)

Frankly, we could not have done as well without the generosity of family and friends providing hand-me-downs and the thrift stores up and down Gallatin Road. It's flat out expensive to cloth children otherwise. And at the rate they grow and go through clothes playing---I was thankful we hadn't paid a lot of money when a garment was torn or outgrown.

Diane said...

You're point is well made and well recieved. However, as you said, it is very expensive to clothe children even when you do it "on the cheap" and especially when your financial resources are strained to the point you are left in a position where you must select wisely between your necessities because all of them can not be met at once. Some families are facing the choice between spending the few dollars they have on either food and other essentials for survival...or SSA, which is not essential to anyone's survival. The SSA is just another burden piled onto the already overburdened - the principals who are being asked to beg charity to get it, the teachers and staff that must spend their time enforcing it rather than teaching and helping students, financially disadvantaged families whose children will be denied an opportunity for an education and better life if they can't find a way, families "just getting by" going into "the red" trying to obtain it on tight budgets, students who should be focusing on their studies now walking on eggshells just to stay in school which used to be their right, achieving students with exemplary records recieving disciplinary actions for CLOTHING infractions and loosing hope, ambitious and creative students trying to distinguish themselves and make a mark on the world being condemned to mediocrity "just one of the herd" and loosing hope, desperate and frustrated students screaming for help being stripped of a vital outlet and form of expression (loosing hope AND going off)...and I could go on but I'm sure you see the pattern.
This all might seem trite to those who have no experience with it, yet, the real danger is when we stop seeing the students as individuals with individual needs that must be addressed INDIVIDUALLY not with a cookie-cutter mold and the implication that in order to count at all they must dress, act and think the same as everyone else or they're worthless. It isn't just about clothes and it never was for the people who opposse it. It sets a dangerous precident of "we're not listening, we don't care, we won't even try to understand you- in fact we no longer even want to look at you as you truely are, just shut up already!" The BOE has already sent that message to the parents so don't think for one second it was lost on the kids who must live it 6 to 8 hours a day.
For all the problems in our schools they BELIEVE this will fix without empirical proof, there are exponentially more problems it will create, within the schools and their communities, which is why many other districts around the country are abandoning theirs at the same time MNPS refuses to learn from their mistakes. It's been done before and it doesn't work. It just isn't worth it at any price, from any store.

Diane said...

I'd like to add that I have a "bono fide religious belief" against shopping at thrift stores. I feel it is unethical and unconsionable to take those resourses way from those who truely need them so I refuse to shop there. Per the definition of bono fide- "sincere and without deciet", and religion - "something one believes and practices devoutly as a matter of ethics or conscience"...that constitutes a bono fide religious belief that I personally practice.
Bono fide religious beliefs don't need to subscribe to any specific religious institution or convention in order to qualify as "bono fide" and "religious beliefs". That is the challenge of the opt-out must be proved that the beliefs expressed are not sincerely held or devoutly practiced as a matter of one's personal ethics and conscience NOT that they must conform or subscribe to the standards set forth by any particular religion or religious institution. It would be discriminatory to selectively accept or deny ANY "bono fide religious beliefs" or determin that they are invalid because they don't conform to a specific religious institution. Religion supports spirituality, but one can have spirituality without religion. Both are equally "bono fide" and "religious". It goes way beyond the scope of the BOE's ability to even make a distinction between them let alone pass judgment.

Kay Brooks said...

No, I didn't say it was expensive even if you do it on the cheap. I said we couldn't have done as well without...

Getting this far with four children was possible because we did many things on the cheap.

You know, I'd like to see real proof that your assertions are more than the occasional instance. You demand empirical proof before implementation of SSA but don't provide any for your assertions. If anecdotal evidence is sufficient to make your argument then it should be sufficient for making the case for SSA.

And who said these children were 'worthless'? Not I. Not anyone I know supporting SSA. Quite the opposite. SSA proponents earnestly desire the focus to be on the children's education and safety, in order that they can succeed and be all they were destined to be.

Is 'bono fide' an acceptable alternative spelling of 'bona fide'?

Eric said...

I'm sorry, I lost focus at
"...used to be their right...".

Diane said...

Wow, that's the best you could come up with?

shSmith said...

back to the ms. cheap column, and buying ssa clothes at the thrift stores... Clearly, there's a problem with her numbers, not to mention Ms. Brooks and anyone else for thinking that's a swell solution: for 70% of 75,000 of our students, which I believe is Metro's free and reduced lunch crowd, to all get their clothing at the thrift stores ... there's going to be a severe supply and demand problem ... one can safely say, on the shortage side.

Eric Holcombe said...

"Wow, that's the best you could come up with?"

Nope. Just where I lost interest. Those were words 95-99 in a 175-word run-on sentence.

If the SSA idea is so distasteful and wastes so much instruction time, what clothing standards do you propose that:
1. Are not "offensive" to any students/parents/faculty
2. Are not "disruptive to classroom activities"
3. 100% of the student families can afford to purchase
4. Take less time to enforce objectively than SSA

Kay Brooks said...

No one said all of that 70% free and reduced lunch children should or will have to purchase SSA clothing at thrift stores merely it's an option for some. These children haven't been completely unclothed heretofore. Obviously, there was money in someone's budget to pay for what they had been wearing. Those funds will now have to be diverted to purchasing SSA instead.

Kay Brooks said...

Thank you Eric. Their arguments sure come off as requiring MNPS to comply with a set of standards they are unable to meet themselves. No one can. When you're dealing with a public entity compromise is essential.

And I repeat---if some parents and children had moderated their clothing choices and not been so in your face about the choices they made---this would not have come up at all.

As long as it takes public votes and dollars to keep this system running you're going to have to live with some of the decisions made by those charged with overseeing this public entity. If you want complete freedom in this area--you're gonna have to homeschool.

shSmith said...

Obviously, there was money in someone's budget to pay for what they had been wearing.

Well... Everyone I know, including the free and reduced crowd, has historically clothed their kids in a lot of hand-me-downs, an option now made obsolete. I took my daughter shopping this week for SSA, at Target, and they had one solitary rack, not filled, with SSA clothes not in her size. While the press has reported that Walmart has clothes, the Walmart in our neighborhood does not, and the floor people have said none is coming in. Looks more and more like expensive Lands End to me, as I don't have days and days of my life to give to finding school board compliant clothes. Wondering who I can send the excessive clothing bill to this year?

Eric Holcombe said...

You can bet when the demand is there, the racks will fill with what is mandated by the government schools. A government mandate is a freebie for retailers. No marketing required - just compete on price. I predict they will be well-stocked at the regularly scheduled back-to-public-school free-for-all sales tax holidays. Although, with the NEA's calls for boycott of WalMart, should the public really expect them to supply?

There will be hand-me-downs of these clothes in mass beginning with year two (or semester two). In case you didn't know, someone has to buy the hand-me-downs new the first time.

I could say welcome to the world of trying to dress your child conservatively. Finding clothing for your 9-year old daughter that doesn't look like a "hoochie-mama" is a challenge these days - at least in the retail, shopping mall market.

You are online. Ever hear of eBay? Plenty of "pricey" brands there cheap/used. We buy the Land's End squall parkas because they will last through three kids - most of the time for $25 or less.

shSmith said...

Finding clothing for your 9-year old daughter that doesn't look like a "hoochie-mama" is a challenge these days...

My 11-year-old daughter doesn't dress like a "hoochie-mama." She always complied with the existing dress code, in blue jeans and t-shirts that fit properly. But now, we have a closetful of clothes that are banned from the school, unless I choose to opt out, which I probably will, as my budget does not include a line-item for an entire new wardrobe that will satisfy the school board. The best solution to Metro's clothing woes was just for schools to enforce the existing dress code. Now, the kids who complied with the prior dress code are being punished along with the kids who never complied, under the mistaken notion that, if we ratchet up the clothing requirements, then those awful sagging kids will now be in compliance. It should be no surprise that enormous amounts of time and resources will be spent on attire issues that would be better spent on education issues this year.

Eric Holcombe said...

Unfortunately, it is also no surprise that the public system could care less about your attire budget - because it isn't in their budget to dress the students.

Zero-tolerance discipline and dress codes aren't the only lowest common denominator programs. When folks start to realize other aspects of that system are offered as "plain vanilla only" just like the clothing...