Outlook for the future of education? It looks just… Pee Chee

Education Secretary Arnie Duncan promises no child's will get left behind when it comes to getting a Pee Chee folder.
Education Secretary Arne 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.

“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 and a member of the writing team at Long Awkward Pause. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.)

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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...

47 thoughts on “Outlook for the future of education? It looks just… Pee Chee”

  1. Interesting and scary recalls. Guess we all find our on way – some sooner than others. Experience is a great teacher for success!

    1. I agree with you Stephanie; experience is the best teacher of all. I just wish the experience of our struggling education system could be learned by those who make the decisions that are effecting generations of our children.

  2. If you get me started about everything that’s wrong with our education system, I’ll never shut up.
    I’m all hackled up over here. Thanks. Pass the Xanax.

    1. Ohhhh, I remember your post about this subject very well, Samara (Hint: Everyone should read it.) Speaking of Xanax, the proper spelling of medications is the only thing I’m cetain our kids will leave school with.

  3. ooh, i loved, loved, loved school supplies. one might even call it a fetish. that’s why i became a teacher maybe? i never thought of that !

  4. I know not of this Pee-Chee folder. I was busy smelling mimeograph paper in school, so I may simply not remember. I think the Pee-Chee’s would be excellent for boring business meetings.

    On another note, I’m with Samara. I find it interesting that so many teachers tell me that they buy supplies for their classrooms out of their own pockets and, yet, there’s wasteful spending? I think we should check the spending habits of the people who want to make said cuts. It might be an interesting read.

    1. Our school supply list had 16 items on it, everything from boxes of tissues (We have 3 high schoolers!), to glue sticks, markers, pencils and a specific $20 science calculator. I’m not blaming teachers at allfor this. I’m just saying that if our educational system can’t even afford glue sticks and paper for our kids, what does it say about our priorities?

      1. You are right and I know you are not blaming the teachers. I just find it interesting that teachers themselves (and parents) have to dig in their pockets to help supply the classroom. It seems funding for education is down there with funding programs for the poor and needy. Yep, messed up priorities.

  5. I’m convinced elementary and middle school (and maaaaybe high school) was so much easier when parents weren’t forced to spend their child’s college savings on supplies. Seriously, who the hell needs 80 glues sticks, 100 pencils, a color coded system of folders, a forest’s worth of paper and a damn partridge in a pear tree?

  6. My parents bought us #2 pencils, composition books, kleenex, etc. It was a shorter list than what I see now. My parent’s list was shorter than my grandparent’s list. There are fewer fundraisers now, though. I did wrapping paper, greeting cards, pizzas, jumpathon, runathon, walkathon, school fair, plus girl scouts (cookies) and all the sports booster car washes. Now it’s just the runathon and pizzas.
    Bottom line – schools are not properly funded. As you said.

    1. Here in Oregon, every club or sport has fundraisers in addition to a laundry list of school supplies — not to mention a $100 fee per athlete per sport. Two of my teens are athletic and can cost up to $500 a year just to participate. That doesn’t include gear (cleats, shoes, etc.) My next fundraiser my be a bank robbery…

      1. I’m about to find out for myself, with my son in kindergarten now and me moving to FL. They’ve only been involved in school to this point. I guess I’ll start on getting a second job so I can put them in an activity.

  7. I know this post had some very important education issues, but I was so lost in dreams of my school years and the excitement of my new Pee Che…ah the smell..sorry.

  8. For us up here in Canada it was Hilroy folders and scribblers- and five subject spiral notebooks. And we all did the fundraising as well. I used to sell the chocolate bars or whatever to my parents – not sure what they did with them. Ha!

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