A Teacher’s Classroom, A Teacher’s Budget

Raising awareness of issues teachers face in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week

It’s estimated that over 90% of teachers spend personal money to provide resources for their classrooms. Educators across the country take on the responsibility of purchasing everything from notebooks, pens and pencils, to art supplies, lab equipment, and computer programs that assist students with reading and math 

Pre-pandemic, the average estimated out-of-pocket cost per school year for teachers was $500. Now, with additional costs and hardships for students and their families, this amount has grown to an estimate of more than $820. Meanwhile, the maximum educator expense deduction is set at only $300 per year. 

As the U.S. continues to face an educator shortage and these added stressors come to light, we’re taking this Teacher’s Appreciation Week to shed light on this issue, show our appreciation for the educators who provide critical support for our youth, and imagine a new way forward for teachers, students, and families everywhere.

What’s in a classroom?

A classroom is more than just a room. It’s a place of community, exploration, and growth. Every student deserves a place where their learning can be bold, unique, and imaginative. But no student can deepen their understanding of the world without the necessary resources. 

Research shows that classroom environment directly relates to student engagement, learning, and social development. When students feel affirmed and excited by their surroundings, they are far more likely to succeed in their friendships, build critical thinking skills, and engage in deeper learning. 

But not all students have the same opportunity to receive these forms of engagement, and that’s why so many educators take matters into their own hands. 

When faced with insufficient funds to create proper learning environments, the vast majority of educators feel unprecedented pressures to not only provide a meaningful education but also support their students as people. Outside of traditional learning, the classroom can also become a place of safety and stability, especially for students who face challenges at home and in the world beyond their campus. 

According to KidBright USA, 73% of teachers observe hunger in their students, and 1 in 6 children in the U.S. live in food insecure households. In addition to requisite classroom supplies, teachers are also stepping up to purchase snacks and supplemental lunch and breakfast options for students who rely on school for accessible and regular meals. 

How can you help?

Like most problems, there is no one clear and simple solution to the struggle to keep our schools funded, sufficiently resourced, and staffed. And there is no one solution to providing the support our educators need to do their jobs, support themselves and their own families, while educating our youth.

It’s reported that the average teacher’s salary falls approximately 23% lower than their college-educated peers. With the added stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of rising inflation rates, and an overarching lack of government support for educators nationwide, the solutions we invest in must be bold, far-reaching, and designed for long-term investment.

From book bans, to the recent sweep of inequitable bills that threaten to out vulnerable students and persecute affirming school staff, to the rise of school shootings that threaten lives, it’s hard to know where to begin. But there are also so many ways to get involved and stand in solidarity with the people who bear the brunt of these burdens – our teachers. 

While our educators face these challenges daily, they shouldn’t have to face them alone. Together, we can imagine a new way forward to reinvest in our school communities and advocate for education that does not shy away from the truth of our collective past. 

Get Involved and Show Your Appreciation this Week:
Want to get involved but not sure where to begin? Here are some low-lift ways to learn more and do more for the educators in your community and beyond: 


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