People are speaking out about the money teachers pay out of pocket for school supplies
In many parts of the country, the first day of school is just a little over a month away. That means parents and teachers alike are heading to stores to shop for supplies. It’s an expensive yearly ritual, and many parents are feeling the pinch in their wallets from the lengthy list of things kids need. But, as we fill our carts with colored pencils, dry erase markers, and spiral notebooks, it’s important to remember, we’re not the only ones shelling out for school. Teachers are doing it too, and most of them could really use some help.
In a recent piece on the Huffington Post, writer Audrey Hayworth said she was shopping over the weekend when she overheard a nearby conversation that disturbed her. A mom and her daughters were looking at EXPO markers for their school supply list — they needed six, but the store only had 10-packs in stock.
Hayworth heard one of the girls tell her mom to just buy the 10-pack, but the mom didn’t want to. She responded with something many of us have probably uttered in one way or another. “I’m not paying $6.79 for them,” she said. “Then we would be giving them four extra markers. I’m not doing that. This is just ridiculous, they can buy their own markers if they want to use them.”
Hayworth wrote that, while she’d never mock anyone who genuinely couldn’t afford school supplies, this mom’s indignance bothered her, because it’s something she hears over and over again. And, behind every incensed parent is a teacher who’s paying huge amounts of money out of pocket to make sure his or her classroom is stocked with supplies.
As Hayworth mentioned in her essay, the Education Market Association did a study last year that found public school teachers spent an astounding $1.6 billion of their own money on supplies for their job. Over 99 percent of all public school teachers admitted to using their own funds and, on average, they spent about $485 per person.
Kind of puts that $6.79 pack of markers into perspective, doesn’t it?
Many of us wrongly assume that teachers get fully outfitted with supplies from their schools. In reality, budgets are tight, and teachers are left to pick up the slack. One school teacher — who wishes to remain anonymous — actually went viral this week after she posted on Facebook about how hard it is for teachers when parents don’t see the importance of purchasing school supplies.
Like Hayworth, this teacher overheard a mom at Walmart complaining about buying extra markers. The woman said, “Dry-erase board and markers? They can kiss my butt, those teachers want markers, they can buy them themselves.” The teacher explained in her post that buying their own markers is “exactly what teachers all over the nation are doing” right now.
“Not only are we buying our own storage tubs and dry erase markers,” she wrote, “but we are buying extra school supplies so kids like yours don’t feel left out. We strive to give each kid a fighting chance, even if that means dipping into our own wallets that were never full to begin with.”
The teacher’s post was shared almost 21,000 times, but she told Scary Mommy it eventually had to be taken down after commenters started threatening her job. Apparently, that’s how upset some parents get about having to buy extra supplies for their own kids and their own local schools. We demand so much of teachers, yet many of us aren’t willing to try to meet them halfway.
Obviously, school supplies are a huge expense, and none of these PSAs are directed at parents who genuinely cannot afford supplies. But, for parents who are able to buy the extra markers or the four-pack of tissue boxes, both Hayworth’s post and the anonymous teacher’s viral message are important reminders that teachers need all the support they can get. They work long hours and often spend their own hard-earned cash making sure our kids don’t go without.
It might seem like an inconvenience when we’re standing in Target, staring down the barrel of a $100 supply list, but every extra pack of pencils helps a teacher, or a kid whose parents couldn’t afford everything they need. As parents, buying supplies is the least we can do for our children and their schools. And, for teachers who are already giving so much of themselves to make sure our kids have what they need, those four extra markers really do make a difference.