Adoptaclassroom.org says classrooms today only look creative because of the teacher.
"Every year one of the biggest challenges that teachers face is not having the budget that they need to purchase school supplies for every student. That's why so many teachers spend their own money on school supplies because if they didn't many students would go with out. On average teachers spend $750 of their own money each year purchasing school supplies for their students," said Devon Karbowski, the senior marketing manager at AdoptAClassroom.org.
"I spent probably a couple hundred dollars on my classroom. Whether it be on pencils, or tissues, or hand sanitizer, all year long," said Rebecca Rogers, a content creator and former teacher.
According to Adoptaclassroom.org, since 2015 teacher spending on school supplies has increased by 25%.
In its 2022 teacher survey, 96% of teachers said inflation is negatively impacting their classroom's access to school supplies.
In that same survey, 62% of teachers said they were considering leaving the classroom because they spent too much of their own money on classroom materials.
"This isn't a recent problem. It's been around for a long time. I've spoken with teachers that have been spending their own money on school supplies in the 1960s and still are to this day," said Karbowski.
The most common items that teachers purchase are basic school supplies like pencils, pens and notebooks.
But when the pandemic hit, many teachers spent money on much more.
"During the COVID-19 pandemic 95% of teachers said that their classroom supply budget wasn't enough to meet their students' need. Not only were teachers spending more out of pocket on basic school supplies that they could drive to their students' home during distance learning, or technology so that students could participate remotely, but teachers also spent an average of $160 out of pocket just on the classroom PPE alone," said Karbowski.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, public school teachers earn about 20% less than other college-educated professionals with similar skills and experience.
And that's made it difficult for districts to keep current teachers in the classroom and attract new ones.
"I don't think people really understand how little teachers get paid for the amount of work that they put in and I know 'oh well get another job,' well that's why we have such teacher shortages. You can't tell us to go get another job if it's that bad and then complain that there's no more teachers," said Rogers.
80% of teachers surveyed said students' families are having a harder time paying for school supplies this year, and that's one of the biggest challenges students will face.
So, higher teacher salaries and providing more supplies and resources needed in the classroom are two big ways the community can help.
"They just can't do it alone; they need support from their community," said Karbowski.