Archived Opinion

Shame on Raleigh for making teachers buy classroom supplies

Shame on Raleigh for making teachers buy classroom supplies

By Lori Wright • Guest Columnist

To all of my fellow teachers and parents, I only have one question: how much more do we have to endure? School has started again, and with that comes a yearly tradition. Once again, teachers like me are being forced to beg for basic school supplies. Some supplies I will be able to get from generous friends and families, but what will I do for the supplies I can’t get through donations? The same thing public school teachers are forced to do every year — pay for these basic classroom supplies out of our own pockets. 

Over the past decade, the politicians in Raleigh have slashed funding for classroom supplies in half when you adjust for inflation. At the same time, teachers are being told that many basic supplies such as cleaning wipes, tissues, and hand-sanitizers need to be listed as optional on the lists we give to parents each year. So if my students are going to learn in a clean environment, who provides these basic supplies? Teachers.

I went into teaching for two main reasons: First, I felt it was a calling in my life, and that I could be a positive influence in the lives of others. Second, I needed a way to support my four children. Throughout my career, I have had to purchase classroom materials for children other than my own. Today, with all of my children grown and gone, I find that I am called to supply even more.

While we used to be able to take advantage of an annual back-to-school sales tax holiday, the politicians decided to get rid of that too. By forcing us to buy more school supplies and pay higher sales taxes on those supplies, the politicians have increased the burden put on me — further showing how little they care about public education. Something’s gotta give. 

It seems as though education is only valued by educators and parents. Where would the politicians in Raleigh be if they had not gone through our educational system? Are they aware of the sacrifices their teachers made for them? Do they have any idea how much time and money their teachers put into their futures? Either they have forgotten, or they simply don’t care — because now all they seem to care about is giving huge tax cuts to millionaires and big corporations. And now it turns out that they want to give even more tax cuts to the rich, in the form of a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November.

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North Carolina’s economy is steadily recovering from the recession of 10 years ago, but public school funding is still as weak thanks to politicians who don’t seem to care about students and teachers. Our state is beginning to thrive once again, yet teacher pay and classroom funding is still well below where it should be. Unfortunately, the lawmakers in the General Assembly seem to want our public schools to remain in a permanent recession.

The lack of care and responsibility the politicians in Raleigh show towards education in our state is frustrating to say the least. As a parent myself, I know how defeating it feels to have to pay a monthly mortgage, car and insurance payments, and groceries while still having to worry about whether my child can have a successful year in public school. What are we paying all of these taxes towards if the government can’t provide basic school supplies? That’s a question that has been on my mind for years now, and it’s a question I intend to ask when I cast my vote in November.

Lori Wright is a teacher and parent in Haywood County Schools.

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