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Teachers see lack of supplies and curriculum, unreliable internet service in their schools

Instructors in survey also cite tutoring, art and music as major needs

A survey of New York City public school teachers has revealed systemwide problems with a lack of supplies, Common Core curriculum materials and internet bandwidth, along with complaints that students are not getting enough tutoring and library time, or art and music instruction.

According to the survey’s findings:

  • On average, teachers have to spend almost $500 a year of their own money on supplies for their classrooms (this amount is above and beyond the $57 they get this year from the New York City Council as part of the Teachers Choice program);
  • Roughly half of all teachers citywide said their school did not have the curriculum and materials teachers need to teach lessons based on the Common Core;
  • Nearly 50 percent of all teachers said the internet connections in their schools were either too slow or too unreliable to support instruction;
  • Two-thirds of all elementary school teachers said their students need more tutoring time;
  • A majority of teachers at all school levels feel their students need more exposure to art and music, along with guidance services and the school library.

Supplies: Elementary school teachers reported spending an average of $536 of their own funds on additional supplies and materials for their students, while middle school teachers reported $494 and high school teachers $376.

Curriculum: A survey of UFT chapter leaders last September showed that 81 percent of schools lacked Common Core curriculum and materials for reading, and 64 percent lacked Common Core materials in math. The most recent survey of teachers — some four months later — showed only modest improvement, with 50 percent of teachers overall saying their schools lacked Common Core materials.

Internet: Some 49 percent of teachers overall said their schools did not have reliable access to fast internet service; Staten Island was the borough with the largest shortfall, with 56 percent of teachers there citing problems with the speed and reliability of their schools’ internet connections.

Tutoring: In addition to the two-thirds of all elementary school teachers who said their students needed more tutoring, more than 40 percent of middle and high school teachers said more tutoring was also important for their students. Overall, teachers in Manhattan schools were the most likely (60 percent) to urge tutoring for their students.

Art and music: Over 54 percent of teachers overall said their students needed more art and music; according to the survey, the situation was most pronounced in the Bronx, where nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of teachers said their students needed more such exposure.

The survey of teachers selected at random was conducted by the UFT Research Department from late November 2013 to mid-January 2014 online and using traditional mail.  A total of more than 800 UFT members from all school levels and boroughs responded.

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