When government austerity creeps into the classroom:
Pencils, pens, crayons, construction paper, T-shirts, snacks and, sometimes, a pair of shoes: The costs add up for public school teachers who reach into their own pockets for classroom supplies, ensuring their students have the necessities of learning. Nearly all teachers are footing the bill for classroom supplies, an Education Department report found, and teachers in high-poverty schools spend more than those in affluent schools.
The report, prepared by the National Center for Education Statistics and released Tuesday, is based on a nationally representative survey of teachers during the 2015-2016 school year. It found that 94 percent of teachers pay for classroom supplies, spending an average of $479 a year. About 7 percent of teachers spend more than $1,000 a year.
Keep in mind, this is a national report. When your state's per-pupil spending hovers in the bottom 20% of schools nationwide, the burden that falls on teachers (and their students) is that much greater. We can no longer afford the GOP's bait-and-switch, where they moan about out-of-control spending, cut back on programs, brag about surpluses, then give huge tax cuts to the rich. And then when budget time comes again, they restart the same old formula. It amounts to incremental decay of our public education system, something that takes decades to repair. This is not a new problem; teachers have been suffering this funding nightmare for years. So why now? Why the big push for more responsible government funding? Because in the last 25 years or so, teachers' incomes have been steadily declining in comparison with comparable non-teacher professionals, making it much harder to make ends meet:
A 2016 report from the National Center for Education Statistics states that about 16 percent of teachers across the nation work second jobs outside the school system. Even more, a report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows how teachers’ pay continues to fall further behind the pay of comparable workers with similar experience and education levels.
In 2015, public school teachers’ weekly wages were 17 percent lower than those of comparable workers—compared with just 1.8 percent lower in 1994, according to the EPI report. In Colorado, for example, teachers earned approximately 65 percent of what similarly educated professionals earn.
“Even with a second income, I still do not have enough to save, make a dent in my student loans, or plan for the future,” says Degerness, who rents a room in a house with two roommates. “I’m making ends meet but I don’t have my own apartment, let alone my own place.”
I've heard some really silly shit over the last few months about how "teachers aren't the only ones" who struggle, or who spend out-of-pocket for work-related stuff. One dude I talked to said, "I bring in a box of donuts for my staff every week." He owns the company, has three (3) houses so he can enjoy beach/piedmont/mountains, and he just had to build a 3rd garage because #1 & #2 could no longer hold all his vehicles. And he's talking to me about $%^&*(@# donuts?
The march today is not about political leverage, it's about arresting a trend that is threatening the very nature of our society. And we should all applaud teachers for stepping up and stepping out.