The Hidden Cost of Teaching

Flickr image by wednesday181.

Columbus teachers outspent their peers on classroom materials and related expenses by 30 percent, according to a recent online survey conducted by CEA.

Nationally, teachers spend an average of $443 per year on classroom materials and expenses. Columbus teachers spent an average of $575.

While an NEA survey found a declining spending level as teachers gained more experience, the CEA survey found just the opposite. Teachers with zero to three years of experience spent an average of $429, while teachers with 21 or more years of service spent an average of $634. Almost 7 percent of the nearly 800 survey participants stated they spent more than $1,000 per year on classroom materials and related expenses. One teacher indicated spending in excess of $10,000 per year.

Overall, teachers most frequently used their personal money to purchase treats and incentives for students, decorative items for classrooms, books/magazines, multimedia resources, materials for lessons and art supplies.

“The district does not supply high-interest, low readability materials, so I always buy my own,” wrote one middle school survey respondent on a Speak Out on The CEA Blog. “You cannot teach children to read when the material is several grades too high for them. Since there is no intervention for these students, I purchase materials and do my own intervention.”

“I was given a case of copy paper at the beginning of the 2007–2008 school year and was told to make it last,” added an elementary school respondent on The CEA Blog. “Needless to say I ran out of paper and ended up buying my own until the new case came.”

“The results of this survey prove what we already know to be true,” stated CEA President Rhonda Johnson. “Our 4,100 members are the most caring in the state. They spend their own money to make up for what the system does not provide. They do what is necessary so their students receive the resources they need to be successful in the classroom.”