4 Surprising Purchases Teachers Make to Do Their Job

These days, no one is surprised to hear that teachers spend their own money on classroom supplies. During the 2018/2019 school year, U.S. teachers were in the national spotlight, going on strike in record numbers to advocate for education reform, including higher wages and smaller class sizes.

A 2018 AdoptAClassroom.org survey found that 96 percent of teachers use their own money to purchase school supplies for their classrooms. This adds up to an average of $740 a year per teacher. Making matters worse is that while teachers are expected to spend so much of their own money, they earn 19 percent less than other college-educated workers.

A majority of the purchases teachers make consist of basic school supplies, books, technology, and organizational materials. But, teachers are also expected to make some pretty shocking purchases out of their own pockets, including these four things…

1. Substitute Teachers

What if you were expected to cover the cost of someone to fill in for you at the office when you’re out sick? Unfortunately, this is the reality for some teachers who have to pay the substitutes who fill in for them.

While not all teachers have to pay for their substitutes, as each state has their own laws detailing who has to pay in various situations, and it’s not uncommon for them to pay out of pocket for a substitute, especially if they require extended leave.

For example, California’s education code states that teachers have to cover the cost of their substitute teachers when they exhaust their sick days, even if the teacher is suffering from a serious medical illness or accident.

2. Toilet Paper

School funding doesn’t always cover the cost of the toilet paper needed throughout the school year, making it a privilege in some schools. An AdoptAClassroom.org survey found that 29 percent of teachers purchase toilet paper and other hygiene products for their students. What other profession requires employees to keep their workplace’s bathroom stocked with toilet paper?

3. Teaching License Renewal

Every few years, teachers have to pay out of pocket to renew their teaching license, while also fulfilling a variety of renewal requirements. Depending on the state, it can cost hundreds of dollars to renew a teaching license. Between processing fees, yearly license term fees, card printing costs, and background checks, teachers are spending a lot of their own money to fulfill the requirements to enter and stay in the profession.

4. Field Trips

When students come to school unable to cover field trip fees, many teachers pay the costs themselves so none of their students miss out on the experience. More than 50 percent of teachers surveyed by AdoptAClassroom.org said they pay for their students to attend field trips, when they otherwise wouldn’t have the funds to participate.

Teachers spend their own money because they care about their students, and want to do all they can to ensure their students have access to everything they deserve to be successful in school. But, they shouldn’t have to spend so much of their own money to provide for their students and do their job.

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