As public schools enter a new year with even steeper budget cuts, nearly every single teacher in America is spending her own money to cover basic classroom supplies. A survey highlighted by Marketplace Morning Report Wednesday found that 99.5 percent of teachers paid an average of $485 last year to stock their classrooms.
City, state, and federal budgets have steadily shrunk school funds since the recession began, which in turn has prompted schools to slash supply budgets. Even as they see their own paychecks cut, teachers are making up the difference, buying books and even furniture for their classrooms.
To make matters worse, students at the hardest hit schools often cannot afford their own basic supplies. One guidance counselor interviewed by Marketplace even buys clothing for obviously needy students. He is not alone; many teachers buy paper and pens for students who can’t afford them.
School supplies are hardly the only resources sacrificed. In Chicago, 3,000 staff members have been laid off, and 54 schools were shuttered in an attempt to balance the school district’s budget this year.
Schools are also suffering huge hits to federal funding due to sequestration, forcing them to fire thousands of staffers, increase class sizes, and even reduce services for some low-income and special needs students.