HOUSTON — In a KHOU 11 online survey, so far, a majority of parents share that they do not feel financially prepared for the upcoming school year.
Some teachers say they don’t feel financially ready either. Dozens of Houston-area educators are relying on the kindness of friends and strangers to help supply their classrooms. Rising costs of backpacks, crayons, markers and notebooks are impacting how much teachers can spend on their students out of the their own pocket.
As inflation rises to a 41-year high, the National Retail Federation is reporting that a third of consumers are cutting back in other spending areas in order to cover the cost of school supplies.
“That's food prices, that's rent and that's back-to-school supplies,” said Mark Zandy, Chief Economist for Moody’s Analytics. “So, everything's up a lot and it's really biting into the purchasing power of the typical family.”
“It really adds up. It’s mind-boggling, even to a teacher,” said Robert Blain, who’s taught in the classroom for the last 17 years. In August 2017, KHOU 11 profiled Blain as he purchased school supplies ahead of the fall semester. Blain shared then that, “it costs teachers, easily, $300 to $400 a year.”
Exactly five years later and through the help of an Amazon wish list, which totaled his school supply spending for the year, Blain said he’d need to spend $1,999.97 in order to buy everything his Aldine ISD high school students will need for the year.
“Teachers never really add it up. We just see, oh that’s a good deal on notebooks, pencils, pens,” said Blain. “When you add in snacks for kids when they stay late, because they may not have food until they get back for breakfast the next morning.”
$2,000, “is a big chunk of change,” said the government and economics teacher. “It really floors me at how it takes a village.”
Teachers across Houston are sharing their own Amazon wish lists on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. KHOU 11 radio partner Mix 96.5 is among those socializing posts in an effort to #ClearTheList.
“I’m lucky that half of my wish list has been fulfilled. I have great friends that are very generous,” said Blain who is worried for other teachers who may be scrambling in the weeks before students return to the classroom.
“Don't worry about having a back-to-school hall, don't worry about spending hundreds of dollars on clothes and hundreds of dollars of school supplies,” advised Jully-Alma Taveras, Founder of Investing Latina. “Have a good understanding of what the needs are going to be for that semester or for that year and take it slowly.”