During the school year, the average Texas teacher works 47 hours a week. Their contributions to education go well beyond their time, though.
A new report from MyElearningWorld, a web portal for online learning, estimates that during the 2022-23 academic year, public school teachers in Texas will collectively spend $298 million on out-of-pocket classroom expenses for items like books, pencils, snacks, décor, and cleaning supplies.
The $298 million tab is the highest of any state in the U.S. That’s not entirely surprising, given that Texas is the second most populated state in the country. But it’s worth pointing out the Texas total exceeds that of the biggest state, California. MyElearningWorld estimates California teachers will spend $240 million on out-of-pocket classroom expenses this year.
The Texas tally works out to $804 per teacher, based on the number of teachers (370,431) employed during the 2021-22 academic year in the state’s public schools. That’s slightly below the national average of $820 per teacher. MyElearningWorld notes that a teacher can deduct only $300 in classroom expenses on their federal tax returns.
A recent survey of 688 teachers who are members of the Texas State Teachers Association found they spent an average of $846 out of their own pockets for classroom supplies during the 2021-22 academic year. That number was up 15 percent from the figure reported in the association’s 2018 survey.
MyElearningWorld emphasizes that the U.S. faces “a catastrophic teacher shortage,” stemming in part from many teachers feeling underappreciated, underpaid, and overworked.
“Undoubtedly, many teachers would point to the fact that they have to spend their own money on classroom supplies as just another sign of unfair treatment,” MyElearningWorld says.
The survey from the Texas State Teachers Association underscores the generally low morale among teachers. In the survey, 70 percent of teachers who belong to the labor union indicated they were giving serious consideration to quitting the profession. That’s up dramatically from the 53 percent of teachers who expressed the same sentiment in the association’s 2018 survey.
“Lingering stress from the pandemic is a factor, but it isn’t the only one. Inadequate pay, political attacks on educators, and the failure of state leaders to protect the health and safety of students and school employees also have combined to drive down the morale of teachers to the lowest level in recent memory and endanger our public school system,” says Ovidia Molina, president of the Austin-based Texas State Teachers Association.
Molina taught in the Houston area for nearly 11 years.