Instead of the harsh white light of the fluorescents, the light pouring from Alexa Weatherwax’s second grade classroom is the soft glow of old-fashioned incandescent string lights and paper lanterns she purchased for her classroom. This year, the only money Weatherwax spent out of pocket was on a travel Q-tip container for her students’ vocabulary words.
Weatherwax’s experience, however, is atypical and illustrates the starkness in realities between suburban and urban public schools, mostly White versus mostly Black school districts. According to the non-profit AdoptAClassroom.org’s national survey, 91 percent of teachers purchase school supplies for their students. The report goes on to say, on average, teachers in the United States spend $600 out of pocket each year on classroom supplies.