Thousands of Iowa kids are returning to school this week. A survey by the National Retail Federation found the average family expects to spend five-hundred-27 ($527) on back-to-school items this year. Shoppers in a school supply store in Cedar Rapids say the kids of today are returning to school with a lot more gear than they did decades ago.
Richard Albers says it seems to him the list of “must-haves” is more than just the essentials. “I buy for my grandkids and I think it’s outrageous what they have to have to go to school with,” Albers says. Janice Hanson is mystified by many of the items the back-to-school shoppers of today are loading in their carts. “I don’t see a thing in there that I had to take, except maybe a notebook, a piece of paper,” she says, laughing.
Mickey Stoos agrees. “I didn’t even need a lock when I was in grade school,” she says. “You left everything right in your desk and you didn’t have lockers.” Todd Cottrell doesn’t remember having all that much stuff when he was a student — or the need to buy something so he could carry his stuff to and from school. “We never heard of backpacks then, and all (these) other do-dads,” Cottrell says.
Backpacks now have rollers on the bottom, some pens play music, and there’s a new-fangled device that’s a dictionary and a calculator. Cottrell says you need to do your figures in your head, not on a calculator.