The $1.6 Billion Dollar Spending Gap

Teaching is one of the most challenging and rewarding professions. Those who pursue a teaching career strive to make a positive difference in each of their students’ lives.

In fact, teachers are so dedicated to their professions that they often spend their own money on classroom supplies. According to a National School Supply and Equipment Association (NSSEA) study, of the $3.2 billion spent on educational materials in 2012-13, $1.2 billion of those funds came from teachers’ pockets. During this past school year, the average teacher spent about $149 of their own money on school supplies, $198 on instructional materials, and $138 on other classroom materials for a total of $485 in the 2012-2013 school year — a testament of how deeply committed teachers are to providing students with the best possible education.

Although some schools can obtain funding federally, states are responsible for about 44 percent of their education budgets (a combination of federal, state and local monies), but that doesn’t mean every need is being met. While the most recent recession has seriously impacted school budgets, hindering their abilities to buy needed supplies and beneficial technology, the fact remains that quality supplies and tech tools really benefit students in the long run.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, when students have access to the latest technological tools, the benefits are enormous. Students become more independent in their learning, have increased opportunities for collaboration both in and out of school, have higher self-esteem, are more motivated, can work on more complicated assignments, have improved access to their communities and are able to build those 21st century skills they need to be successful in college and in the workplace.

Classrooms that have computers and interactive white boards can go on virtual field trips to anywhere across the globe and communicate with classrooms in other countries. Even iPods enable students to create interactive flipcharts, videos and presentations that can be shared with their classes. The reality is that these tools are expensive and there has never been a better time to support teachers in obtaining the materials that will enrich students’ classroom experiences. Called “a revolutionary charity,” by Oprah Winfrey, websites like DonorsChoose.org allow people to support schools and donate to specific teachers and classroom curricula related to math, science, art, etc.

If you could make a positive difference in education, would you? Sometimes, all it takes are some new books and art supplies! Join us in an effort to further provide teachers with the tools they need to give tomorrow’s leaders a quality education. Keep an eye out for The Classroom Project.