Many teachers look to provide exciting experiences for children in the classroom, frequently using interactive supplies and techniques intended to make learning fun.
While teachers often get an annual school supply budget, too often what teachers use in the classroom is purchased with money out of their own pockets. That’s even more true in light of recession-related budget cutbacks that have forced teachers to reach deeper into their own funds to pay for supplies.
An April 2010 OfficeMax “National Teaching Realities Survey” from Kelton Research found that 97 percent of American teachers frequently use their own money to stock up on supplies for the classroom.
In most professions, supplies are funded by employers. However, teachers — whom many feel are underpaid — find themselves running out of money for supplies. Instead of scaling back and letting students suffer, many teachers continue to use their own money to ensure a worthy classroom experience.
What are they buying? At least 80 percent of teachers interviewed in the study found that basics, such as paper products and craft items, are in short supply.
Many parents are unaware that teachers use their own funds for supplies. But students and parents alike can do their part to contribute to a better learning environment by following these tips:
• When teachers send home notes requesting donations of supplies, parents should step up to the plate. It’s not greed feeding these requests, but rather necessity.
• Parents can join together and consult school officials about their concern for dwindling school budgets.
• Local merchants can donate school supplies or offer discounts for teachers. Not only is it free advertising, it’s good for the community as well.
• Teachers can investigate discount programs at school- and office-supply stores.
• At the beginning of the year, teachers can issue a list of necessary classroom supplies. Parents and other community members can work together to complete the list.
• It’s not just classroom supplies, either. Some teachers use their own money to help students who may not have money for lunch or bus fare to get home. Fundraisers for the classroom can be a good way to raise extra money for miscellaneous expenses.