In an effort to save money, TPTB decided not to buy the old faithful TICONDEROGA #2's and opted for pencils made in China. The problem is, the cheaper pencils will not sharpen!! Very often, the pencil looks like it has a nice point, but the graphite crumbles when pressure is put on it. Sometimes you can't get a point at all - the pencil sharpens unevenly and the contact point ends up being wood. Out of pure frustration, I've made three separate trips to STAPLES to buy TICONDEROGAS at $15.00/72 pcs., and it's only the end of the 1st quarter! I was very disappointed to learn that even they are made outside the USA (Mexico), but, fortunately, their standards are still high. I haven't had a problem with one yet. But $45.00 a quarter comes out to $180.00 for the year! And that's for something most of us just take for granted - a decent writing instrument. The folks at STAPLES are appalled that a teacher has to buy pencils out of his/her own pocket, but dealing with the cheap ones simply isn't worth the stress and aggravation.