Education Budget Cuts and Teacher Expenses
Here’s a question for you teachers out there: Have you ever spent money out of your own pocket to supply essential classroom supplies? For an overwhelming majority of educators in America, the answer is a resounding yes. Teacher expenses are much higher than they should be because education budgets do not allot enough money for classroom essentials. Educators are left with a difficult choice: go without or purchase out of pocket.
A recent national survey from the NSSEA shows that 99.5% of teachers are using money out of their own pockets to supply necessary items for their classrooms, and these teachers are spending an average of $945 a year. In addition, another survey shows that 91% of these teachers are using their own money for necessity items for their students. We’re talking food, clothing, and money for field trips. So the question is: Is this the educator’s responsibility?
Teachers Corner: What Teachers Have to Say about Educator Expenses
After reading the opinions of various educators, it seems that there are three different responses to this question. The first and most popular is one of frustration. Are other professions requiring their employees to use their own money to do their job? It’s a good question. Most companies and organizations have some kind of system of full or almost-full reimbursement when employees pay out of pocket for company expenses. Unfortunately, most teachers aren’t so lucky.
The second response is one of acceptance: this is part of the job and you’re going to have to spend money no matter what. When people choose to be teachers, they don’t do it for the glory or the big bucks; they know there will be sacrifices. Most teachers will have to put out or raise some of their own funding if they want their classrooms to be the optimal learning environments all students deserve.
Finally, the third response is one of extreme happiness and joy. There are many teachers who believe that every penny is worth it for their students. Part of being a teacher is having the privilege of making sure students get what they need and having opportunities to fulfill those needs personally. Who knows how to get students the necessary learning tools better than their own teachers?
Discount Classroom Supplies: Resources and Tips
Whether teachers resent, accept, or welcome their personal educator expenses, the fact is that they shouldn’t have to be spending out of pocket. So is there a way to unburden teachers from this responsibility? First, I urge you to do a little bit of research and find out if the items you’re buying for your classroom are tax deductible. The Educator Expense Deduction is designated specifically for out-of-pocket spending for classroom supplies. That could offer a little bit of relief.
In addition, there are a number of organizations which raise funds, donate, or sell school supplies at a discounted price for teachers. NASA Lockheed-Martin offers grants to run special programs in your classroom related to math, science and engineering. RAFT (Resource Area for Teaching) provides affordable project materials and hands-on learning kits which promote inquiry-based learning and make teaching more affordable. Adopt a Classroom is an amazing site that lets you register your classroom to attract donors. Many classrooms have already been adopted and have benefited from every penny of the donated funds. These are just a few of the many resources out there which can help lower teacher expenses.
Eliminating Educator Expenses
Must teachers accept that they will have to shoulder a significant financial burden if they want proper classroom supplies? Is the only alternative to independently find grants and donors? There must be a way that we can work together - administrators, teachers and parents - to find a solution to this problem and eliminate educator expenses.