Teachers love to give their students all the help they can, but it is astonishing the many areas in which they are not given the support which they should receive. One case of this is when teachers have to pay for classroom supplies for their kids out of their own pocket.

In many cases, teachers dig deep into their own pockets to enhance the learning experience of their students. In the 2006-07 school year—the most recent for which data is available—Texas public school teachers spent over $400 on classroom supplies. Table 1 provides some information on how much public school and private school teachers are spending: 

We’re all lucky that our teachers are willing to do this, and it’s also great that Texas has a program which helps reimburse public school teachers for their out-of-pocket spending: Classroom Supply Teacher Reimbursement. (CSTR) The CSTR provides up to $200 of reimbursement to public school teachers who spend their own money on classroom supplies. One of the strings attached to this money is that the teacher is only eligible for the money if their school district matches the state reimbursement.

This sort of program is great because it provides individual teachers the resources to be creative with how they teach their students, but the results would be even greater if teachers at any school—public or private—had this kind of backing. Universal school choice is a way to give them this support. Teachers spending their own money on class supplies is a part of the wider topic of teacher compensation. With school choice, teachers would receive increased compensation overall, as explained by Teachers Win: A Case for School Choice. School choice would lead to greater job satisfaction for teachers and more resources for students in the classroom. In the process, funding would be diverted away from non-essential spending.

Giving parents a choice in which school their children attend is a proven method for regaining control over the education of our children. Parents should be able to review the policies of each school with regard to their assessment procedures and choose the best fit for their child, a student they know better than anyone else. We all know that not everyone learns in the same fashion. If parents were given some control over choosing the best school for their child, and allowed to use their allocated state funding to attend that school, their child’s education would be improved. Schools would also be encouraged to improve education due to competition. On so many levels, universal school choice is the solution to meet the needs of the students, enhance the role of the parents, and support the mission of the teachers.