10 challenges poor students and teachers face


1. It’s difficult to afford school supplies

From items that immediately come to mind (pencils, paper, binders) to those that are less obvious yet no less crucial (tissues, hand sanitizer), the back-to-school season calls for a whole lot of shopping. Between charitable organizations’ school supply giveaways and education-focused crowdfunding sites, low-income students and teachers can sometimes manage to scrape by and get the bare minimum amount of supplies. But crossing every item off the extensive list—which the nonprofit GreatSchools pegs at more than two dozen specific items for middle schoolers—can prove to be difficult.

What’s more, overwhelmingly, teachers pitch in and dip into their own salaries to purchase supplies for the classroom. An incredible 94 percent of public school teachers reported spending some of their own money (without reimbursement) on school supplies during the 2014-2015 school year, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education. (For context, $479 was the mean amount of spending for all teachers who put any of their own money toward classroom supplies.) But of course, if the teacher who nobly shoulders the burden of purchasing supplies is struggling financially, too, then that puts everyone in a lose-lose situation.

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