1. "I drive Lyft to make ends barely meet and take shifts at a local restaurant when my kids are at their dad's. It's really, really hard. I'm going into debt to do the very basics, but I really love the job and these students."
2. "My wife is a teacher and when she was in public school, she got a couple hundred dollars of 'classroom money' each year that she could spend on supplies [like] highlighters, pens, pencils, paper, etc. [It] added up quick. Each year we spent at least a few hundred dollars out of pocket on supplies for her classroom. This is just for the bare essentials, not even including anything you did that was 'above and beyond' like reward candy, etc."
"There is a small tax deduction you can make for these out-of-pocket expenses as an educator, but it only gives you back a few dollars, even if you claim the maximum amount."
3. "I've been a public school teacher for 16 years and in that time I've been really lucky to work in a district that's pretty well funded when it comes to the basics. However, I'm an English teacher and I've spent thousands of dollars on books for my classroom library that are diverse and high interest for my students to borrow. It's made a huge difference in their reading experience and it's worth it to me."
4. "My first year of teaching, I spent about $700 out of pocket. People ask if we're 'pressured' to spend our own money and the answer is (usually) no. However, most schools don't offer teachers budgets for their classrooms. I need certain things to make my classroom run and make my own life easier, so, out of pocket it is."
5. "Not a teacher but my mom is. A lot of little things you might not think of [are] usually what makes [teachers] pay. When they go on a field trip and every kid was given money for the gift shop [but] one kid doesn't have any. When a student's family is struggling financially so they can't pay the library fines. When kids don't come to class with lunch so there's a snack drawer. Stuff like that where it's not 'required' but it just breaks your heart to watch, so she usually ends up paying for it."
6. "As a high school English teacher, I have a line item in my monthly household budget of $100 per month for school expenses. I've found ways to do things for cheaper, like shopping for books at local library sales, but I'm responsible for all my own supplies, even office supplies. Luckily, my district does provide novels for my students and copy paper."
7. "We work for free most of the time. Teaching doesn't stop when the bell rings. Grading papers, making lesson plans, even collaborating with other teachers is done during unpaid time. As a new teacher, this meant I often worked for a couple hours each evening as well as four to six hours each Sunday."
8. "I work at a Title 1 school as a college counselor and teacher. My students sometimes can't focus because they don't have enough food. I constantly have snacks on hand. I teach a life skills class and wanted to teach cooking, so I had to buy all the ingredients myself. On just food for my students, I spend at least $400 a year."
—Rachel, Washington DC
9. "I get $300 from my school to cover ALL supplies for my kindergarten [class] for the entire year. I am not supplied with anything, not even paper clips! In a typical year, I spend $1,000 to $1,500 on supplies and materials. I try to stock up when prices are low right before school starts."
10. "The healthcare costs! My husband and I are lucky and get pretty solid health insurance through our district, but not all teachers are as lucky. I teach fourth grade and am mildly immunocompromised. I am constantly getting colds, strep throat, and the flu. I've gotten caught in the crossfire of aggressive student behavior and had to get checked out."
"I sprained my ankle running through the playground to rush to a student who was bleeding. Special needs teachers get scratched and bitten all the time, and it's 'just part of the job!' Not to mention the stress of the job does not help with keeping blood pressure down. Mental health definitely suffers with this job. It's expensive to be a teacher because of the damage this job does to your body and mind."
11. "As an adjunct professor at a university located in a city, I would say my greatest out-of-pocket expense is food for students that often can't afford to pay for meals, whether it is paying for food at the food court or buying food for the food pantry on campus."
12. "I pay for my own professional development to attend conferences AND have to take personal days to do so. Registration, flight, meals, and hotel easily cost a few grand. This makes me a better teacher and there's absolutely no compensation."
13. "In addition to ALL the school supplies (folders, pencils, copy paper, etc.), my district is the second largest in my state, and there are SO many families that live well below the poverty line and/or are homeless. My colleagues and I spend so much money on personal hygiene products, food, clothing items, and other basic life necessities for our students because they simply can't afford to live. It's heartbreaking. We pay for these financially and emotionally."
14. "It's actually not the monetary expenses that are the worst. Yes, I buy supplies, books, and decor for my room, but it's the limited amount of time I have even when the work day is 'done.' It's never done. It's the hours after school and on weekends grading and planning. It's missing both of my kids' first days of kindergarten because I couldn't take the first day off at my school."
"It's having to be at all of the extra events after hours. Being a teacher is teaching all day and then spending hours and hours after the school day has ended to grade and plan for the next day, week, or month. Two months in the summer doesn't cut it."
—Anonymous, New York
15. "Things like Kleenex and hand sanitizer are my largest expenses, minus pencils and paper for the students who forget their supplies. I try to ask each student to bring one box of tissues. I teach high school, and we typically don’t have class supply lists for parents, but not every child can even do that."
16. "State testing was beginning and I didn't have enough headphones for all my students. I needed 48 pairs, so I went to Dollar General and [bought] earphones. If the state requires they have certain materials, then the state should provide those items because the school district cannot afford those materials."
—Sandra, South Dakota
17. "To get bigger raises you constantly have to go back to school. Sometimes the school will reimburse you, but rarely at 100% or sometimes not at all. At my current school, I need 15 graduate level credit hours to get a 2% raise. You can find cheap programs that are made for teachers, but you still have to do the work and put in the time on top of your full-time job. And you have teachers with multiple masters being treated and paid so poorly."
18. "My school-provided budget last year was $150...for 300 students. Sorry kids, the school board thinks my class is worth 50 cents, so I can't buy anything cool for the program unless your parents donate specifically to my class."
19. "When I first started teaching, I probably spent close to $1,000 or more for supplies for my classroom and students. Eleven years later, I don't spend nearly as much. It's sad but if my school or classroom families don't supply it, I just do without. No other profession brings their own supplies to work so why should teachers be expected to?"