569 teachers (37%) said they would feel guilty if they did not personally provide students with the supplies that aren't covered by the school's budget.
861 teachers (56%) said that although they don't feel that it is their responsibility to purchase classroom items, they still choose to do so to keep their classroom adequately stocked.
Only 112 teachers (7%) said they do not use personal money to buy school supplies. The funding should come from the school.
Although school budgets used to include funds for “essential” supplies such as pencils and paper, fewer now do. Students and their families now begin the school supply buying extravaganza in early to mid-summer.
When asked reasons why teachers felt obligated to spend personal funds on classroom supplies. Many answers revolved around budget. “This year my materials budget is a grand total of $0.00. That suggests that things are not going to be good this year... Don't you just love budget cuts?” stated one teacher.
“I buy with my own money because I can buy it cheaper at the back to school sales. And it makes my work environment run better. I need the classroom money for paper,” said another California teacher.
An Alabama teacher said, “I teach art at a Title I school. In our system, art classes are supposed to be funded through student fees of $30 per art course. If students are on free or reduced lunch, the students are fee exempt but no system was created to compensate for the loss of funds. As a result, schools in our system that collect almost all their funds are working with a yearly budget of around $4000 per teacher and schools like mine have an art budget of $200 per teacher. Needless to say, this greatly affects what media we can use in our classes. I'm watching sales and have spent $160 so far for this year. It's not fair for the students but I do the best I can to augment our budget through buying materials myself, begging and taking any free materials offered.”
Some teachers feel they must buy supplies to keep their jobs. One said,
" I teach in a low income district. I realize some students are not in control of what their parents will provide. However, many are lazy and just refuse to come to class prepared. With that said...
The Governor of our fine state tried to attach student success to teacher pay. They will try again this coming year.
If teachers do not do everything in their power to help students succeed their own pay could be affected.
Also, when principals look at your student data don't they already determine if you are doing your job by how many of your students meet/exceed/or don't meet expectations?
Teachers are in a very difficult position. I do feel obligated to supply what is not there for my students.
Even though I love teaching and I do love my students I resent having to supply what is missing."
Other teachers are resigned to spending personal funds. “I buy supplies at the beginning of the year. I never want a lack of supplies, whether it be a pencil, a binder, or a book, to get in the way of learning. I've seen teachers refuse to give kids pencils in order to teach them responsibility. That child ends up sitting in class, unable to complete their work, while feeling humiliated. What a horrible lesson to learn.” This comment came from a teacher who really cares.
To weigh in on the debate and read more, go to http://www.edutopia.org/node/5683/results.
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