Press Release

AFT’s Weingarten on Economic Policy Institute’s School Supplies Report

America’s Teachers Spending Huge Personal Sums on Classroom Essentials as Back-to-School Season Kicks Off

For Release:


Andrew Crook
o: 202-393-8637 | c: 607-280-6603

WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement after the Economic Policy Institute published a report showing teachers spend an average of $459 on school supplies out of their own pockets:

“There is no other profession I can think of where workers, as a matter of culture and practice, are relied upon to subsidize an employer’s costs just so they can do their jobs. But teachers want what kids need, so each year they buy hundreds of dollars’ worth of supplies for their students without a second thought—even though they are paid over 20 percent less than similarly skilled professionals.

“Teachers care deeply about kids’ learning and about creating safe and welcoming environments in their classrooms. They know that when there’s no chalk or crayons, or tissues, or textbooks, when families are struggling to provide necessities, educators plug the gap.

“That’s not to say it’s right. But as long as their kids lack the essentials, educators will continue to dig deep. And they’ll also join together to fight to fund our future, to fight the defunding and underinvestment that created this crisis in the first place.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.