Policy & Funding

More Teachers Spending Out of Pocket on Basic Resources for Their Classrooms

More K–12 educators are spending their own money on classroom essentials like books and other learning materials, according to a new survey. At the same time, most are not being given a say in how American Rescue Plan funds are being allocated.

The survey of 2,004 educators who serve kids in need, conducted by First Book Research & Insights (FBRI), a program run by nonprofit equity organization First Book, found that 20% more educators are spending their own funds on learning resources compared with last year. A majority of educators, 59%, are spending $100 to $500 out of pocket. Another 17% are spending $500 to $1,000. And 13% are spending more than $1,000. According to FBRI, only 2% spent none of their own money. (The remainder spent $100 or less.)

While 97% of respondents to the survey said they wanted o give input on the use of American Rescue plan funds, 75% said they have not been able to do so.

Among the top funding priorities for educators who participated in the survey:

  • 86% placed books in their top-5 priorities, with 31% prioritizing books as their No. 1 choice;

  • A massive 79% prioritized student mental health resources, with 18% citing this as their top priority;

  • Additional support staff ranked third at 59%, with 19% citing this as their top choice;

  • WiFi access was fourth, at 52%, with 12% ranking it No. 1; and

  • Educator mental health resources came in fifth, also at 52%, but with far fewer ranking it as their No. 1 priority than WiFi access.

The remaining priorities in the top 10 included community partnerships (46%), remote learning support (43%), anti-bias and anti-racist teaching resources (30%), health and safety products (27%) and professional development (25%).

When asked specifically about remote learning, 76% said they would prioritize purchasing digital remote learning resources. Apps came in at 68%; hot spots and internet access at 58%; online learning tools at 52%; and iPads at 48%.

The complete survey is freely available on the FBRI website.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidrnagel/ .