How do teachers spend $9 million of their own money on school supplies every year?
What are they buying?
Teachers purchase basic classroom supplies - like pencils, notebooks, and folders - so their students have what they need to succeed. Schools don't provide these materials and families can't always afford them. 77.7% of Chicago public school students qualify as economically disadvantaged.*
To do their jobs, teachers bear the burden of purchasing materials for students themselves. he teachers we’ve talked to purchase materials for their classrooms on a weekly basis. Creative supplies needed for project-based learning often come out of pocket too. Remember that cool volcano you made in middle school? Teachers pay for those supplies when school budgets can't or won't.
How did we calculate $9 million?
In a Creative Chicago Reuse Exchange survey of almost 600 teachers in the Chicago Teachers Union, respondents reported spending an average of $500 of their own money on classroom materials annually. As of July 2018, Chicago Public Schools employs 19, 526 teachers in city schools. The average annual out-of-pocket expenditure of $500 per teacher, multiplied by all teachers in the city equals $9,763,000 - the "over $9 million" figure that we cite.
Resources for further learning:
If you want to learn more about how much teachers spend on classroom materials, here are some helpful resources:
"Teachers shelling out nearly $500 a year on school supplies, report finds" from the Chicago Tribune
"How much do teachers spend on art supplies?" from NPR
"94 Percent of U.S. Teachers Spend Their Own Money on School Supplies, Survey Finds" from the New York Times
*From Chicago Public Schools: "Economically Disadvantaged Students" come from families whose income is within 185 percent of the federal poverty line.