- At $664, California teachers spend more of their own money on supplies for their classrooms than their colleagues in any other states, closely followed by teachers in Michigan, who spend $628 for which they are not reimbursed by their school districts, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute.
- Nationally, teachers spend an average of $459, with those in North Dakota spending the least at $327. The state-by-state data is drawn from the National Center for Education Statistics’ 2011–12 Schools and Staffing Survey and adjusted for inflation.
- The data also shows teachers in high-poverty schools spend more of their own money on supplies for their students than those in low-poverty schools, and that this amount has increased over time, from $481 in 2011-12 to $523 in the 2015-16 school year.
Additional new survey data by Agile Education Marketing and digital identification company SheerID shows teachers using their own money for supplies has become pervasive, with 99% responding that they do.
Many teachers receive financial support for their classrooms through crowdfunding sites and social media movements, like #Clearthelist. And in South Carolina, a teacher in the Cherokee County School District has even sued district leaders, claiming teachers are required to spend their own money on supplies.
“That it has long been a pattern of practice throughout this nation and the state of South Carolina that school districts, to include Cherokee County, have unconscionably and impermissibly shifted operating costs of the classrooms directly on the financial backs of our teachers,” the lawsuit reads.
Open for others to join as a class action, the lawsuit seeks reimbursement for items purchased as well as damages and attorney’s fees. The district has said it followed the law.
Some districts, however, are trying to relieve teachers from having to dip into their own bank accounts to make sure classrooms are well-stocked. The Cumberland County Schools in North Carolina is spending $1 million this fall to give teachers $300 each toward school supplies. According to the EPI analysis, North Carolina teachers spend an average of $400 of their own money on supplies.