Remember when the school supply list was just a Pee Chee?

[Still looking for that pair of No. 2 red-handled safety scissors required for Mrs. Flunkum’s eighth-grade algebraic lit. class? You’re not alone. As government spending on education has gotten smaller, school supply lists have grown to the size of a Nasa space mission checklist. Never mind that Nasa doesn’t actually go into space anymore. The point is, this week’s Wednesday Rewind doesn’t require a protractor…]

Education Secretary Arnie Duncan promises no child's will get left behind when it comes to getting a Pee Chee folder.
Education Secretary Arnie Duncan promises no child will get left behind when it comes to getting a Pee Chee folder.
When I was a kid, our school supply list consisted of a Star Wars notebook and a Pee Chee folder. The notebook helped us organize our assignments; the Pee-Chee folder was used for entertaining ourselves during class by drawing thought balloons for the athletes on the cover.

Football Guy: (Getting tackled) “Oh sure — run the old L-42 play, THAT always works…”
Tennis Girl: “If my skirt gets any shorter, I’ll be playing Olympic volleyball…”

You get the idea.

Just about everyone remembers this folder because, like Al Sharpton’s hair gel, it has remained virtually unchanged since 1964. What has changed, however, is the growing list of items parents must provide throughout the school year. This comes in addition to rudimentary things, such as clothing, snacks and a recent urine sample. The reason is simple: The government is tired of wasteful spending, particularly in the educational system, where a special task force has discovered that schools routinely get bilked into spending thousands of dollars on paper alone.

“And, shockingly, most of this paper has turned out to be blank,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

The study, code-named “Operation: Waste Storm,” was described by Duncan as “the first step in a three-pronged approach to end overspending in four areas of education.”

White House press secretary Fred Netterman later apologized on behalf of Duncan, saying his initial figures were incorrect, and that it was actually a four-pronged approach.

“The point is, he’s been promised as many prongs as it takes to get the job done — that’s how serious we are,” said Netterman, who revealed that scissors, glue and construction paper were other pork barrel items targeted by the study.

“Obviously, we’re approaching construction paper with a great deal of sensitivity since, in addition to money, it involves issues of color,” said Netterman.

Duncan, meanwhile, went on to explain that a less frivolous educational budget will encourage schools to do more with less, which will go further in preparing children for the real world than making paper hats and collages — items which, as Duncan pointed out, could be outsourced to children in Taiwan and imported for half the price.

How can we compete with this kind of quality?
How can we compete with this kind of quality?

“In addition to the cost savings, think of how it would bolster our relationship with the Taiwanian people,” said Duncan, who underscored his statement by pointing to a map of Japan.

So, how will all this affect our children’s education?

I honestly don’t know..

But I’m sure, eventually, everything will be just Pee-Chee.

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, or Barnes & Noble.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

38 thoughts on “Remember when the school supply list was just a Pee Chee?”

  1. What is this Pee-Chee of which you speak? I have never seen this folder. All I remember is a Trapper Keeper with an orangey sunset tropical image. Thank you for making me feel young.

      1. We did wrap them in brown paper sacks sometimes, but mostly Butter-Krust paper. There was a skill to getting it around the corners not too tightly. When did they stop doing that?

  2. i loved shopping for school supplies, eating my paste, and organizing everything. i had a monkees folder, (yes, the original time around), and now i am on the other side as a teacher, but i still get to play with the supplies.

  3. Everyone used these, you say? I’ve never seen or heard of a Pee Chee folder before. I always knew that my hometown’s school system was small time, but apparently more so than I ever imagined!

  4. I can’t believe these people haven’t heard of a Pee Chee folder, Ned. I’m feeling old all of a sudden! Oh, yes, I remember the Pee Chee, and I don’t think I saw it anywhere when I was shopping for school supplies. The list is getting longer, Ned, and I could never find a protractor.

    1. Thank you! I was beginning to feel like I was part of a dying breed of Pee-Chee users, instead of just a dying breed. You can still find those folders, but not as easily as Trapper Folders. I’ll always be a Pee-Chee kind of guy, and not just because it sounds like “Chee-Chee.”

  5. I’ve never heard of these folders, either. Having gone to a better than average public school system serving mostly automotive executives’ offspring, I don’t think they were cutting any corners. We had our daily assignments delivered by robots to our home room desk. Never saw a Pee Chee……………..

    1. Haha! We actually made those robots in shop class but couldn’t afford the batteries, so we sent them to Detroit. We used the money to buy Pee-Chees. The circle of life, Tom…

    1. Trappers are a little more “fancy” with their shiny cover. The Pee-Chee is basically “high-grade” posterboard that usually begins to fall apart after a few weeks of being carried from class to class. Sooner if you have sweaty hands.

    1. Not being an American is becoming more popular this year. The urine testing is REAL and has become an issue since the NDAA of 2012 – we literally do not know who may be turning us in to The Department of Homeland Security anymore. It could be your school bus driver. The lady that takes your milk money also has a check-box on her daily roster of benefit recipients that is compiled monthly and sent to the IRS. But……….No one is watching I swear …

    2. HaHa! Actually, starting this year, all high school athletes in Oregon are randomly drug tested. But the pros are still safe to smoke pot and take steroids… whew!

      1. The pros? Do you mean the “street walkers?” I don’t confuse the NFL with football, because football is the game where you are supposed to use only your feet – not your hands – you M&M’s – and while you’re at it, try running for 45 minutes without stopping the clock and don’t wear any pads and helmets. You Sissies. In baseball – another highly competitive contact sport – you can’t tell what they have on the brim of their hat or stuffed between their cheek and gum – plus you never get close enough (or long enough) to smell anything, anyway.

          1. Not true. There is soon to be a very big surge in piñata smashing near all of the new immigrant re-location centers across the country. ¿Quién se robó mi perro caliente?

  6. Ned, sometimes I think PeeChees were Oregon things. And did you forget that they helped you memorize the multiplication tables which kids don’t need to do anymore. They don’t memorize they need to explain WHY is 7×8 56?

    And I have hit the reblog button!

    1. Maggie, I’m happy to say Pee-Chees still have the multiplication table inside, as well as the metric conversion system — neither of which anyone uses anymore. There’s also an elemental table that lists Rush Limbah’s head as the hardest substance on Earth.

      And thanks for the reblog 😉

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