Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Education

Report: Teachers shell out nearly $500 a year on school supplies

Pencils, pens, crayons, construction paper, T-shirts, snacks and, sometimes, a pair of shoes: The costs add up for public school teachers who reach into their own pockets for classroom supplies, ensuring their students have the necessities of learning.

Nearly all teachers are footing the bill for classroom supplies, an Education Department report found, and teachers in high-poverty schools spend more than those in affluent schools.

The report, prepared by the National Center for Education Statistics and released Tuesday, is based on a nationally representative survey of teachers during the 2015-2016 school year. It found that 94 percent of teachers pay for classroom supplies, spending an average of $479 a year. About 7 percent of teachers spend more than $1,000 a year.

MORE EDUCATION COVERAGE: She needed help to go to college, so mom came along

The report was released as Arizona, Oklahoma and West Virginia continue to feel the aftershocks from teacher protests over low pay and cuts to school spending that shut down schools for days.

The cost can be especially burdensome for teachers who make meager salaries and live paycheck to paycheck. Even in places such as Oklahoma, where educators are among the lowest-paid in the nation, teachers still reach in to their pockets to make up for budget shortfalls that have stripped resources from schools. One Tulsa teacher last year resorted to panhandling to pay for school supplies.

According to the federal report, elementary school teachers spent an average of $526, more than high school teachers. But no group shelled out more than teachers at schools with a high number of students living in poverty. Teachers who worked at schools where more than 75 percent of children qualify for free meals spent an average of $554 annually for supplies.

Nationally, more than half of public school students qualify for free or reduced-price meals, a rough proxy for poverty. And with the number of poor students growing, families are less able to furnish supplies for classrooms or for their children than they were in the past.

The practice is so widespread that schools have come to rely on educators furnishing their classrooms. Congress in 2002 passed a measure giving teachers a $250 tax deduction for classroom supply spending.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who helped create that deduction, said last year that the deduction represented a "small token of appreciation" for teachers.

"At virtually every school, I have met teachers who are spending money out of their own pockets to benefit their students," Collins said.

READ THE GRADEBOOK: The talk of Florida education

A GOP tax proposal threatened to eliminate the deduction, but after an outcry Congress preserved it. Now, House Democrats are sponsoring an effort to expand the deduction to $500. Rep. Anthony G. Brown, D-Md., said expanding the deduction is critical in an age when teacher pay in many states has stagnated.

"In spite of tight classroom budgets, limited education resources and low pay, educators take hundreds of dollars out of their pockets to purchase supplies for their students to ensure every child has the resources they need to learn and succeed," Brown said Monday in a news release. "Increasing this deduction acknowledges the importance of their work, is a small ‘thank you’ for the counselors, principals and teachers who make financial sacrifices to benefit their students, and helps achieve the outcomes we want for all our kids."

Comments
Florida teacher says she was fired for refusing to give credit

Florida teacher says she was fired for refusing to give credit

PORT ST. LUCIE — A Florida history teacher says she was fired for refusing to give half-credit to students who didn't turn in their assignments.Diane Tirado says her school along Florida's Treasure Coast had a "no zero" policy, requi...
Updated: 3 hours ago

New Pasco Middle School principal sent in to improve climate, provide leadership

Plagued with low staff morale, Pasco Middle School got a new principal Sept. 21 who was charged with improving the climate of the Dade City campus.Danielle "Dee Dee" Johnson, principal of Wesley Chapel High since early 2017, was appointed t...
Published: 09/26/18
Hudson Middle students shine in annual young authors event

Hudson Middle students shine in annual young authors event

NEW PORT RICHEY — James McFadden wrote a time-travel adventure story called, Escaping Time. Junaye Brown penned a twist on a classic fairy tale, called The Four Little Bears. Zoie Castleberry called on her own experience with a beloved pet to ...
Published: 09/24/18
USF assistant VP rides AHN wave of support to success

USF assistant VP rides AHN wave of support to success

Editor’s note: Academy of the Holy Names junior Tress Jacobs spent the summer of 2018 shadowing Tampa Bay Times columnist Ernest Hooper. To conclude the experience, she interviewed Academy alumnus Kim Wilmath Hill and filed this report.By Tres...
Published: 09/23/18
How do you explain active shooters to a first-grader? For educators, school safety is a ‘work in progress.’

How do you explain active shooters to a first-grader? For educators, school safety is a ‘work in progress.’

Active assailant. Run-hide-fight. Barricade the classroom. The language of preventing a shooting like the one this year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is often filled with terms that can stir up fear in students, often out of necessity.But f...
Published: 09/22/18

Two acclaimed authors to speak about water at USF St. Petersburg

Pulitzer Prize winner and University of Florida professor Jack Davis thinks people need to humble themselves more toward water."The water doesn’t belong to us, we belong to the water," he said. "Without water, humanity would not exist, life would not...
Published: 09/21/18
Updated: 09/22/18
Hillsborough school district releases referendum wish list

Hillsborough school district releases referendum wish list

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District on Friday released a long-awaited, school-by-school list of 1,785 projects to be funded by a proposed half-cent sales tax hike.The list, now on the district website, includes playgrounds for Anderson El...
Published: 09/21/18
Pinellas education news: college fairs, lectures and more

Pinellas education news: college fairs, lectures and more

Students, parents invited to three upcoming college and career fairsThree events are scheduled over the next two weeks that are designed to help students plan their next steps after leaving the Pinellas County school system. The University of South F...
Published: 09/21/18
Football player, band member, advanced student, girl: Pasco eighth-grader does it all well

Football player, band member, advanced student, girl: Pasco eighth-grader does it all well

TRINITY — Julie Michael stood in the metal bleachers, flute poised at her lips, ready to play the national anthem with the Seven Springs Middle School advanced band.As the band segued into the school fight song, the eighth-grader continued per...
Published: 09/20/18
Updated: 09/23/18
Romano: We need education solutions not slogans from DeSantis, Gillum

Romano: We need education solutions not slogans from DeSantis, Gillum

And 200,000 third-graders just rolled their eyes.I swear, even they can see through the education proposals offered by gubernatorial candidates Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum this week.Let’s see, the Republican wants more privatization. And the Democ...
Published: 09/20/18