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Mom calls out teacher who gave her son a 'zero' grade for not providing class with supplies

Her viral video sparked a debate as to whether or not providing school supplies should be mandatory for parents.

school, back to school, teachers, parenting, kids
@shanittanicole/TikTok

A zero grade for not providing school supplies?

The debate as to whether or not parents should supply classroom supplies is not new. But as prices continue to rise, parents are growing more baffled as to how they can be expected by teachers to provide all the various glue sticks, colored pencils, rulers and other various items the incoming students might need.

What’s even more perplexing, however, is penalizing the children of parents who won’t (or can’t) provide them.

This was the case for Shanitta Nicole, who discovered her son received a zero grade in his new school for not bringing school supplies for the entire classroom.

Nicole was especially surprised by this reaction since she had already gone through the effort of making sure her son had every supply he needed from the school’s list, which was slightly different than the one they previously had.

And yet, the 7th grade teacher informed her son that he was still expected to provide for the classroom, not just himself. And, thus, a zero grade, for failing the assignment, so to speak.


Even though Nicole thought the rule was “weird,” she went out and bought the bulk items, which included tissues, Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, pencils, Expo markers, and red pens.

And yet, the next week—her son still has a zero. Concerned, Nicole emailed her son’s teacher.

“I’m like, ‘hey…my student has a 83 in the class and everything else in the class is 100s and 98s and he still has a zero for something called ‘classroom supplies.’” she said in a video.

“‘We bought the supplies anyways, but I don't feel like it's the parents' responsibility to supply your classroom. And I definitely don't think it's appropriate to assign a grade to students based off of whether or not they've supplied your class with supplies. That doesn't make any sense.’”

@shanittanicole Am I doing too much? #fyp #school ♬ original sound - Shanitta Nicolee 💖

And while Nicole’s email did get the teacher to reconcile the grade, there was no mention to her other concern regarding the responsibility for parents to provide the entire class with supplies.

“So, I emailed the principal because I just, I might be extra, but I just want to see what's going on. Why do I have to buy supplies for the classroom?” the frustrated mom concluded.

Nicole’s video quickly went viral on TikTok, and several weighed in to agree that the teacher’s actions were misguided.

“That is so unfair!! Especially for the kids whose parents CANT afford groceries let alone classroom supplies,” one user wrote.

Another added, “You are not wrong. It is 100% ok for [the teacher] to ask for supplies, but mandate it for a grade? Absolutely not.”

And this point is truly what Nicole took umbrage with, as she noted several times in the comments. It has less to do with being asked to help and more to do with her son’s grade depending on it.

In a follow-up video, Nicole shared that the school principal did end up reaching out, notifying her that while, yes, teachers are allowed to ask for donations, it should never be mandated.

@shanittanicole Replying to @yafavv._.dancer😍😘💞😍😍💞 Graded Supplies Update #fyp #school ♬ original sound - Shanitta Nicolee 💖

“What the teacher was trying to accomplish, but it definitely wasn't appropriate,” the principal told Nicole.

While the teacher might have not handled this situation in the best way, it goes without saying that this is a larger systemic issue—one that isn’t exactly fair to parents, teachers and students alike.

Most public school teachers spend a significant amount of their own money on classroom supplies, to an average of $673 per year, according to a recent survey of more than 1,100 educators by the Association of American Educators (AAE). That number only goes up for teachers in high poverty schools.

At the same time, according to a 2022 survey with Savings.com, the typical parent also spends nearly $600 on school supplies. Plus things like clothes, backpacks, haircuts etc.

In the grand scheme of things, there’s no use placing full responsibility or blame onto teachers or parents. Because either way, students get caught in the crossfire. This is clearly a universal burden that needs attention.


This article originally appeared on 10.5.23

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