Teachers Spend for Classrooms, NEA Pays Them Back

A teacher spends on average $356 a year out of his or her own pocket on classroom supplies. The items run the gamut from hands-on activities to improve learning to school supplies for students.

The spending can be particularly heavy for teachers at lower-income schools, where students often show up for school without the most basic supplies, such as pens and paper.

NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign is rewarding the generosity of teachers everywhere with a new contest designed to help five lucky teachers recover some of the money they spent this year on classroom supplies. At 5 p.m. each weekday next week, the Priority Schools Campaign will randomly draw a winner for a $100 Staples gift card.

Educators from across the country are participating by visiting the Priority Schools Campaign Facebook page and sharing some of the items they purchased for their classrooms this year.

Jessica Brown, a special education teacher from Woodbridge, N.J., writes: “Where do I start? I have bought a printer for my classroom, ink, chalk, notebooks for my students, posters, paper, bulletin board paper, cleaning supplies, folders, markers, tape, scissors, glue… and the list goes on!”

Boston, Mass., vice-principal Zach Galvin has seen the costly scenario unfold all too often.

“For too many years I have witnessed teachers buying paper, tape, pencils, pens, markers, poster paper, dvds, compact discs, books on recording, snacks for students who have no breakfast or lunch, Kleenex for the winter months, fans for the classrooms and the list goes on and on,” Galvin writes. “Our educators work too hard for their earnings to bear the brunt of outfitting their classrooms as well.”

Photo: Brandi Korte

  • I have spent many hours and dollars at local teacher supply stores. I taught for six years at a low income school, and I definitely spent extra money to help students purchase supplies. Even though community organizations attempt to help give students materials, often times it does not cover everything. I will check out the contest.

  • Jamie

    I teach currently in a very low income school. The trend now is that students know the teachers will supply their basic needs. I heard this year that Obama gave $500 to welfare families to help buy supplies for school. I had 19 students bring 8 boxes of tissue, 2 lysol wipe containers, 3 hand sanitizers, 15 12 packs of pencils, and 4 packages of copy paper. I always buy Clorox wipes in bulk all year long so we can keep a healthier environment as well as hand sanitizer. Those 2 items alone, cost me around $75. Let’s add in pencils, tissues, notebooks, paper, and other essential items for daily use… we shall say another $100. Also, in order to keep a nice classroom library that has current titles full of differing levels and interest, we are told to buy 2 new books/child/year. I have already spent $250 for new books this year. Now, I want to keep my students interested in learning in a technology filled world, so I buy software, books on CD, Leapster2 plus some games for it, a new tape/cd stereo (because they break or fail within a year or two) and classroom learning games, add another $300. Now to create an environment that is inviting to students, I easily buy another $50 worth of borders, posters, nameplates each year. The money/list keeps going… I am lucky to have $300 for a budget to spend but keep in mind I am still responsible for ink, markers, pens, plan books, copy paper, etc. to do my job. Want to hear more?