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What Teachers Buy for Their Students

Earlier this month, we highlighted a few of the challenges that teachers in Caddo, La., were facing with back-to-school expenses. A recent nationwide survey conducted by AdoptAClassroom.org, a nonprofit donor organization, further points to the types of items that teachers buy out-of-pocket for their students and classrooms. Those include not only school supplies but clothing, food, and personal items that students' parents can't afford.

The results revealed that 91 percent of the 1,188 public, private, and charter school teachers surveyed buy basic school supplies for their students, 67 percent purchase food or snacks to help their students meet basic nutritional needs, and 30 percent buy gloves, hats, jackets, and other warm clothes for their students to wear to school. The findings also indicate that 18 percent of teachers buy personal-care items, such as toothbrushes and sanitary products, for their students and that 29 percent buy hygiene items like toilet paper and soap.

More than half of the teachers surveyed said they pay the costs of field trips for students who would otherwise not be able to attend. In addition, 28 percent reported that they buy items for their classrooms and students that fit into the "other" category, including computers and furniture for the classroom, bus fare and lunch money, prom tickets, eyeglasses, haircuts, and school uniforms.

Teachers also gave feedback on some of their most "unusual" purchases for students. One teacher wrote, "I helped pay for a casket for the family of one of my students." Another teacher noted, "Every year that I have a pregnant student(s), I buy them some baby necessities before their due date."

According to a press release, James Rosenberg, founder of AdoptAClassroom.org, said that the survey's findings reveal that teachers are tackling major social issues such as homelessness and poverty at school. "Again and again, we see it happen—when society lets kids down, it's teachers who step in to fill the gap," said Rosenberg.

The full report on the survey's findings has not yet been released online.

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