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96% of teachers personally pay for students' supplies: Survey

Stifled by low pay and burdened by an increasing inability to find affordable housing — American teachers are as financially stretched as ever. According to a survey by social app Fishbowl, an astounding 96% of teachers personally pay for school supplies for their students.

A total of 1,038 teachers from 45 states responded to the survey, which ran from July 6 to July 10, 2019.The data also showed that 96.71% of females teachers have paid for student's supplies as well as 92.13% of male teachers. A 2018 Department of Education survey also supports Fishbowl's findings, showing that 94% of U.S. teachers pay out of their own pockets — $470 each year on average — for students’ supplies.

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According to teachers on Fishbowl, they’re not just shelling out cash for traditional supplies like pencils and notebooks. One California teacher posted on the platform, “I finally tallied up how much I spent on my students this past year…Over $2,300! Is this normal? This isn’t sustainable, but I also can’t just do nothing when my kids can’t even afford a coat.”

Kyle McCarthy, head of growth at Fishbowl, and Mara Lecocq, the company’s brand and community director, spoke to Yahoo Finance about the survey's findings and teaching as a profession in general.

"It comes down to the question of whether or not teaching is a valued profession in the U.S., and looking at the findings, the answer seems to be no," McCarthy says.

According to Fishbowl, the problem affects teachers in all areas of the country.

Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance

100% of teachers surveyed in the states of Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Washington said they had purchased student's supplies.

"Teachers are already underpaid and have to deal with ever-growing class sizes. Having to pay for supplies for their students compounds this problem." McCarthy says.

Lecocq wants Fishbowl to be a forum for teachers. “By bringing teachers together and giving them a chance to discuss important topics, such as unwritten policies that require them to pay for school supplies, we hope to highlight issues that need to be addressed by those with the power to do something.”

Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.

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