Teachers reported that they spent an average of $530 of their own money last year on basic supplies for their classrooms, according to a new national survey from education publishing company Scholastic. Teachers in high-poverty schools spent an average of $672, the survey found.
The new finding was in line with the results of a 2014 UFT survey of teachers that found New York City public school teachers spend on average almost $500 a year of their own money — above and beyond Teacher’s Choice — on classroom supplies.
In Scholastic’s “Teacher & Principal School Report,” just 46 percent of the teachers in high-poverty schools reported that they received discretionary funds from their school, district or parent-teacher association, compared with 61 percent of those in low-poverty schools.
In high-poverty schools, the survey found, teachers tend to use their own money for food or snacks, notebooks and other basic school supplies while in low-poverty schools teachers are apt to spend money on books.
Sixty-nine percent of educators in high-poverty schools and 20 percent in low-poverty ones reported that access to fiction and nonfiction books at home is inadequate. Fifty-six percent of teachers said they had used their own funds to build their classroom library by purchasing culturally relevant books, current titles, multiple copies of popular books and magazines.
When asked how school districts should prioritize school funding, teachers who filled out the survey said the top priorities should be reducing the student-teacher ratio, purchasing high-quality instructional materials and textbooks, and enhancing access to technology and digital resources.
Teachers also reported a need for professional development in how to engage families. Sixty-two percent reported that their school’s staff was not “very or extremely” effective in engaging families in their children’s learning. While this need was greatest in high-poverty schools, more than half of the educators in low-poverty schools also emphasized the issue.
Scholastic surveyed a nationally representative sample of 4,721 public school educators, including 3,694 teachers.