Teachers say they pay for school supplies out of pocket


“I’ve never known a teacher who didn’t spend money. This is absolutely the norm. And sometimes it’s the wait,” DC teacher Dominique Foster told VERIFY.

Back to school can be quite expensive. In the 2022 school year, families with children in elementary through high school expect to spend an average of $864 on school supplies, up $167 from 2019, according to a report from the National Retail Federation.

But there are many school supplies beyond the basics that aren’t covered by parents or provided by the school. The burden of purchasing these items often falls on teachers, according to several posts on social networks. Many positions claim this 94% of teachers had to dip into their own pockets to buy school supplies.


Do 94% of teachers say they pay for school supplies out of pocket?



Yes, at least 94% of teachers say they pay for school supplies out of pocket.

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A 2015 Department of Education study that was revised in 2021 found that 94% of public school teachers use their own money to buy school supplies. More recent studies show that the true number may be higher.

AdoptAClassroom.org, a classroom crowdfunding website, found in a 2018 survey of 4,400 teachers that 96% of teachers buy basic school supplies for their classrooms and for students whose families don’t. can’t afford to pay them.

A survey of teachers registered with DonorsChoose, another classroom crowdfunding site, showed that, on average, teachers spend $750 a year on these supplies, a spokesperson told VERIFY.

Dominique Foster is a pre-kindergarten teacher at Friendship Blow-Pearce Elementary School in Washington DC and recipient of the 2022 DC Teacher of the Year. Foster sat down with VERIFY to talk about her experience paying for school supplies.

“I’ve never known a teacher who didn’t spend money,” Foster said. “That’s absolutely the norm. And sometimes that’s the expectation.

Foster’s classroom includes stations for sensory play, science and discovery, creativity and imagination, and cooking.

Throughout her 20 years of teaching, Foster says she’s spent tens of thousands of dollars of her own money to make sure her students have the supplies they need to succeed. She prefers to call it an “investment” – an investment that she says is all too common in her profession.

“I used to be a little embarrassed about how much money I spent on my classroom, because I was always so passionate about creating a wonderful space and really making the class that third teacher. “, said Foster.

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Spokespersons for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina, the Houston Independent School District in Texas, and the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) told VERIFY that their school districts and state education departments fund basic supplies within their budgets, which are often dictated by enrollment.

“The district gives teachers the necessary equipment/supplies for their classrooms. However, some teachers supplement the supplies to enhance their lessons. They acquire them through personal purchases and donations,” the carrier said. floor of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Houston Independent School District, which is the largest public school district in Texas, told VERIFY “if teachers want or need other supplies that [the school’s] budget can’t stand it, they often use options like Amazon’s wishlist.”


Foster says many teachers feel enormous pressure to teach at high levels while being underpaid and underfunded. And that pressure usually causes teachers to go out and find it or buy it themselves, she said.

In addition to the money Foster spent out of pocket, she told VERIFY that she’s also received thousands in donations from AdoptAClassroom.org and DonorsChoose. Investments that she hopes will leave a lasting impression on her students.

“If they are proud of their space, their school, their creations, their work; if they see how much their families and parents love where they go to school, love the way they learn, I think that impacts and changes the trajectory of the rest of their lives,” said said Foster.

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