After swinging through Target and dropping another $10 bucks on supplies that I need for an upcoming science lab, I decided to pull out my envelope o’ receipts and see how much I’ve spent on school purchases so far this year.

Grand total: $875 — and that only includes the stuff I remembered to save receipts for.

It also doesn’t include the money that I’ve spent on registrations and travel to conferences — another $535 that had to come out of my own pocket after the state of North Carolina gutted the teacher professional development budget to pay the bills.

Here are five spending highlights I thought you might get a kick out of:

  • The most expensive single purchases: A Livescribe pen ($122), a subscription to Poll Everywhere ($50), and a wired router to get my classroom’s three computers up and running ($42.46).
  • The most common purchases: Science lab materials including 9 thermometers ($57), mineral oil ($19), milk ($4.82) and spaghetti ($10.58).
  • The purchases that I probably could have lived without: New books for my classroom bookshelf ($113).
  • The purchases that are the most direct result of slashed #edbudgets: Cleaning supplies including a mop and mop bucket to clean my lab floors ($42.48) and the rental of a carpet cleaner to clean the carpets in our team’s other classrooms ($36.91).
  • The cheapest purchase: A kickball ($6.53)

What’s REALLY CRAZY is that the $875 that I’ve spent so far — which works out to roughly $73 per month, y’all — is actually LESS than I’ve spent in the past few years. I’ve intentionally cut back on my school spending because I’m as broke as everyone else!

Now let me be perfectly honest with you:  If I worked hard enough at it, I probably could have gotten SOME of my purchases covered in other ways.

The parents of my students, for example, are pretty terrific at sending in lab supplies when I remember to ask for them with enough advance warning — and my principal can be pretty creative at finding spare change to squeeze out of his budgets.

I need all y’all to know, though, that teachers ARE subsidizing public education in America by purchasing needed supplies for their classrooms out of their own pockets– and those subsidies are becoming more and more important as districts struggle to find ways to balance budgets in difficult economic times.

Are we okay with that?



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