I went to my local teacher supply store this morning and spent $167.50 on supplies for the new year. The receipt is about two feet long. Since my husband has been making choking noises about the credit card bills lately, with no paychecks coming in from me, I am not looking forward to giving this one to him.
However, $167.50 is actually about what I spend each year at the beginning of the year. And it is nothing compared to what I spent my first two years of teaching.
When I got my first official teaching job in a public school, I was shown a dark, dank room with one window (but covered in some sort of security plastic that was completely opaque) and two dead mice on the floor. I had tables and chairs, a desk, and some pattern blocks. That’s it. I asked the curriculum director about curriculum — stupid me. She looked at me like I was a cretin and said there was no curriculum.
So here I was, about to start teaching kindergarten for the first time, and I had NOTHING. I’m guessing I spent $1,500 of our newlywed funds just to get going. I had to buy teacher books and curriculum materials and puzzles and games and manipulatives and art supplies….and everything.
Later I found out that the district provided $8,000 for each new kindergarten class that was opened, and as mine was new to the building, it qualified. Of course I never saw a penny of that money. At the time I wondered if the principal had actually STOLEN it, but in retrospect I’m sure he swiped it to use to pay for other things the school needed. Like the mentally ill assistant teacher assigned to my classroom.
The next year I probably only spent a thousand, and then it started going way down. So now it’s $167.50 at the beginning of the year, and…another $75-$125 during the course of the year.
I even have to buy my own copy paper and construction paper. (I did get free construction paper at my first school. Whoo hoo!)
I wonder how many people out there who think that teachers are overpaid actually have to buy their own office supplies for work? Plus enough supplies for twenty other people in their office?
Whenever people ask me about holiday gifts for teachers, I always tell them to forget the tchotchkes and pool their money with other parents to buy a generous gift certificate to Target or Barnes and Noble or the local grocery store or the local teacher store, so that the teacher doesn’t have to spend quite so much of her own money.