Teachers Reach in Their Own Pockets to Pay for School Supplies

According to a report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), based on research from the 2015-2016 school year, 94 percent of teachers are laying out an average of $479 a year for classroom supplies so that students would have the tools they need for learning. About 7 percent spend more than $1000 a year. Teachers in high-poverty schools spend more than those in affluent schools. This cost is burdensome for teachers who earn low salaries. In Oklahoma, where teachers did not receive a pay raise in a decade until their strike, teachers still reached in their own pockets. One teacher resorted to panhandling to pay for school supplies. The practice of teachers paying for school supplies caused Congress in 2002, to pass a bill giving teachers a $250 tax deduction for classroom supply spending. A recent Republican tax proposal threatened to eliminate the deduction but after an outcry  Congress preserved it.

Yet an article in Education Week (May 15, 2018) written by William Bennett and Karen Nussle (Mr. Bennett is the former Secretary of Education and is now chairman of the Conservative Leaders for Education.Ms. Nussle is the organization’s president.)entitled Teacher Strikes Do Not Help Children(May 15, 2018) Mr. Bennet and Ms. Nussle state, ”Our public-school system exists to give our children a foundation in literacy and numeracy and to help them become informed citizens. It is not the purpose of the public schools to use children as leverage for the gains of others… the most vulnerable families least able to cope with abrupt changes in the routines of their children”. In what other professional business do we expect employees like accountants, lawyers or doctors to reach into their own pockets to pay for the supplies that clients/patients need? Educators are at least as valuable as doctors, lawyers and accountants. Our society would not have accountants, lawyers and doctors and even Secretaries of Education if it were not for teachers.