Teacher spending out of pocket still high despite national movements

Classroom supply costs soar
Published: Aug. 9, 2018 at 9:02 PM MST|Updated: Aug. 10, 2018 at 2:47 PM MST
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(Source: Tucson News Now)
(Source: Tucson News Now)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Just about every teacher in the United States has spent some of their hard-earned money on supplies.

Cynthia Johnson moved to Tucson from Huntsville, Alabama straight out of college to be a teacher.

Six years later, she's at the Math and Science Success Academy living out her dreams, but spending hundreds of dollars doing it.

"So much. So much money out of pocket. I got a bonus this school year. It's already gone. It just goes straight back into the classroom," she explained to Tucson News Now.

Johnson's school reimburses her spending, She gets a classroom allowance of $1,050 for additional classroom supplies. Though, that's not true for every teacher in Arizona. She shared her thoughts with TNN to represent the feelings of teachers around the state.

Johnson spent her money creating a space that makes her students feel comfortable and eager to learn.

"If you looked at a school funded classroom, it would be empty. There wouldn't be anything to enjoy or for the kids to look at."

She's not the only one who has shelled out extra cash for her students. A new report by the national non-profit Adopt a Classroom said teacher spending out of pocket is up 23 percent since 2015. The non-profit surveyed 4,400 educators nationwide. About 28 percent of them said their spending topped at $1,000.

The survey says on average a teacher spends about $740 out of pocket on their classroom. Here in southern Arizona, Johnson said she's already spent more than $400 and the year is just getting started. As a science teacher, that $400 doesn't even cover the extra money she'll spend on tools for hands-on learning labs.

"The school's not going to pay for it, because the state doesn't. The state doesn't have a middle school science supply budget."

Her school reaped some of the benefits from the Red for Ed movement last year. She told TNN that she saw a bit of an increase in her paycheck... and much of that goes back to the kids.The teacher-spending issue hasn't gone away.

"We can say we want money all day long, but how is the state going to come up with it?"

Johnson works at a primarily low-income family school, and said some families can't help. She's thankful for those that can and do.

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