At the November 18, 2020 board meeting, the Harris County Department of
Education began to lay the framework in starting a program to reimburse
Harris County public school teachers for money they spend buying their
student's school supplies.
With teacher's income stagnating, many searches for a second job to
help make ends meet. Nevertheless, virtually all public school educators
hit their wallets to pay for school supplies without reimbursement. According
to a new National Center for Education Statistics report, 94% of teachers
spend their own money to store their classrooms with the required supplies
According to a survey, a teacher would shell out around $479 on average,
while 7% spent more than $1,000. But what are they buying? Not just pencils
and tape masking. The National Education Association recently asked educators
to share their #OutOFMyPocket stories—how much they spend annually
on classroom materials, what they buy, and why they think it's vital
to dig so deep into their paychecks.
There are several stories from educators who, as they continue to stand
up to politicians to demand fair pay and school funding, are doing all
they can to help them get the resources they deserve. According to recent
inflation-adjusted data from Economic Policy Institute, Texas, teachers
reach into their wallets during the academic year to purchase school supplies
to subsidize local budgets. Teachers are also first responders in high-poverty
school districts to ensure students have what they need to excel in the
For example, in every class, Kassandra Peterson sees at least one of her
students fall asleep at a desk because they haven't eaten a meal all
day. The school's free lunches are always so low quality some would
rather sit hungrily. Peterson teaches first-year students at Cesar Chavez
High School, a Houston ISD school where 69% of students are eligible for
free or reduced lunch. She said many of her kids come to school with concerns
that wealthier district students don't have to think about—like
where they'll get their first meal of the day.
That's why Peterson, who's in her second year of teaching, started
buying multiple Pop-Tarts boxes every two weeks so that she at least has
something to offer when a student sleeps in class. She spends about $100
a month alone on Pop-Tarts boxes. Peterson also spends her own money on
paper as her school goes through supply shortages as the end-of-year approaches.
As her kids get ready for final exams, she forks money for giant boxes
of printer paper to make review packets for each student, along with markers
and pencil cases.