Sometimes, we neglect to keep track of how the little and the not-so-little things add up, things like the money for which teachers routinely dig into their pockets to purchase supplies for their classrooms because their budget-strapped school districts either can’t afford to or won’t.
It has been generally reported that Texas teachers spend between $500 to $1,000 a year on school supplies without being reimbursed for the expenses, which year in and year out amounts to a significant contribution to public education costs. But how much?
TSTA did the math, which wasn’t complicated. With 350,000 teachers in Texas, their personal contributions for classroom supplies would range from $175 million to $350 million per year, or $350 million to $700 million for each two-year state budget cycle.
That’s a significant subsidy for an inadequate state funding system that Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and their legislative allies refuse to improve. And it’s a subsidy coming from teachers who, on average, are paid about $6,000 less per year than their peers across the country and continue to see their take-home pay eroded by rising health care premiums that the same state officials refuse to address.
TSTA government relations specialist John Grey discussed those figures, among other school funding issues, in testimony at Monday’s Commission on Public School Finance hearing.
“Texas school children deserve better,” Grey said.
And so do the teachers who teach them.