An overwhelming majority of educators agree that equity in education should be a national priority—but in the meantime, teachers and principals report dipping into their own pockets to help fill in the gaps.
Scholastic, the education publishing company, surveyed 4,721 public school educators—a nationally representative pool made up of 3,694 teachers (including 76 school librarians) and 1,027 principals—over the summer for its report. Teachers and principals largely say that their students in both high- and low-poverty schools face barriers to learning that come from outside the school environment. To meet the personal needs of students, and to supplement classroom resources to enhance learning, teachers and principals feel obligated to use their own money.
On average in the past year, the teachers spent $530 of their own money on classroom items. Teachers in high-poverty schools spent nearly 40 percent more—an average of $672.
Principals spent an average of $683 of their own money over the same period to pay for classroom or student supplies, and for principals in high-poverty schools, that figure increased to $1,014.
Just 46 percent of teachers in high-poverty schools receive discretionary funds from their school, district, or parent-teacher organizations, compared with 61 percent of those in low-poverty schools.
A slight majority of teachers (56 percent) have bought their own books for their classroom. A majority of teachers—54 percent—say they need culturally relevant books. Teachers also want recently published books, books with diverse characters, books in languages other than English, and nonfiction books.