How Much Teachers Spend on School Supplies and How You Can Help #clearthelists

School Supplies

Helping Teachers

Teachers in the United States are spending hundreds of dollars a year out of their own pockets on classroom supplies. This is nothing new (especially to someone who grew up as the daughter of a teacher), but U.S. News and World Report recently broke down just how much public school teachers across the United States are spending on average, and some people are taking notice.


The Breakdown: How Much Teachers Spend on School Supplies

The average teacher spends $459 on school supplies during the school year—picking up construction paper, folders, and other supplies for various projects, bulletin board displays, and sometimes everyday materials for students.

Teachers in California spent the most, on average spending $664 out of their own earnings on school supplies. However, nowhere in the nation did teachers spend less than $300 on average. The state where teachers spent the least was North Dakota, where the average teacher spent $327.

A very small percentage—about 5 percent—report not spending any of their own money on school supplies.

Teachers tend to spend more in higher poverty areas, according to U.S. News and World Report. In high-poverty areas, teachers spent on average $523, while in lover-poverty areas they spent an average of $434.


Here’s a breakdown of the states where teachers spent the most and the least on schools supplies out of their own pockets:

Where Teachers Spend the Most on School Supplies

  1. California – $664
  2. Michigan – $628
  3. Arizona – $552
  4. New Mexico – $545
  5. Rhode Island – $538


Where Teachers Spend the Least on School Supplies

  1. North Dakota – $327
  2. West Virginia – $333
  3. Vermont – $347
  4. South Dakota – $349
  5. Maine – $356


Going Viral: #clearthelists

While for years teachers have created classroom wish lists for items like tissues, highlighters, and pens, today some teachers’ wish lists are going viral.

Twitter was trending with #clearthelists this fall after one teacher started a social media campaign to help teachers gain donations for their classrooms. Following this, country musician Casey Donahew started a Clear the Lists GoFundMe page where people can donate to meet teachers’ requests for classroom supplies.

School Supplies

Other Ways to Help Teachers with Classroom Supplies

If you want to help out the generous teachers who spend hundreds of dollars of their own each year to ensure our children have what they need for an enriching education, you can start by talking to your child’s teacher about what he or she needs or wants for the classroom.

You can also contact your school or school district to find out how you can help meet the needs of your area schools, or visit, a crowdfunding website where teachers can request donations for various classroom necessities and extras.

Also, those who generously thank their teachers with holiday gifts might remember how much teachers are spending out of pocket on school supplies and perhaps give them a gift card rather than a candle or holiday mug.


Published by Krista Brock

As a magazine editor turned freelance writer, mom, and children's book author, I enjoy creating children's books and activities that invite creativity and encourage a love of reading.

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