BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A new poll shows that Maryland educators are struggling financially, after spending their own money on school supplies and running up their personal debt.
Some teachers even have second jobs to make ends meet.
“Far too many educators are struggling to make ends meet. It’s clear that Maryland needs to do more for our teachers and school staff,” said Baltimore County elementary teacher and Maryland State Education Association President Cheryl Bost.
“Educators devote their lives to making a difference for every single child in their community, yet as a state we have allowed educators to become undervalued,’ Bost added. “The Kirwan Commission, legislators, and local officials must address this problem head-on so we can recruit and retain the talented and dedicated educators our kids need and deserve.”
The poll, which was administered by the DC-based GBA Strategies to 800 public school employees who are members of the Maryland State Education Association in July, shows that young educators of color are struggling the most financially.
Ninety-one percent of educators spent their own money on supplies for schools, the poll shows.
“I’ve been working all summer and just saving up for classroom expenses so it’s been pretty tough,” Cassie Thompson, a Baltimore City teacher, said.
A recent survey showed nearly 70 percent of Maryland’s teachers felt their schools lacked funding to purchase basic items.
One teacher tweeted he pays close to $2,000 out of pocket each year.
A former teacher, Melissa Badeker, said she understands the struggle. So in 2015, she started the Baltimore Teacher Supply Swap with another educator.
“Education funding in Baltimore there’s just not enough money for education so teachers have to compensate for that,” Badeker said. “They have to reach into their own pockets,”
At the store, teachers are allowed to fill up to five bags of different items they may need during the school year, from pencils to pens, even games for their students, and they’re allowed to return as many times as they need to.
So far in 2018, the Baltimore Teacher Supply Swap has already given out $190,000 worth of supplies, and it’s only August.
But school supplies aren’t the only reason why they are struggling to make ends meet.
Teachers also have their own debt — 37 percent have student loan debt and 21 percent have more than $25,000 in debt.
“A lot of teachers who have just graduated from college and they’re in a lot of student debt and they open their classroom doors and there’s nothing in it. They don’t know what they’re going to do on that first day of school,”
Four in 10 teachers have a second job, according to the poll and 61 percent of those are educators under the age of 30.
Of the educators of color who took the poll, 51 percent have student loan debt and 48 percent have worked a second job to pay their bills.
The Economy Policy Institute reported in 2016 that the teacher pay gap was wider that ever. Maryland teachers make 84 cents on the dollar compared to other professions. MSEA also states that more than 24,000 education support professionals—like paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, and custodians—do not make a living wage in Maryland.
“I’m a first-year teacher, I don’t really have supplies to go off of on my own. I don’t have money to buy supplies so it’s really helpful to be able to come here and take what I need,” Thompson said.
Educators also said they were concerned about inadequate staffing and funding at their schools — 71 percent say they believe a lack of staffing make school days harder, while 69 percent felt their school does not have enough funding to help every kid succeed.
According to the MSEA, the Kirwan Commission is developing final recommendations to address the $2.9 billion in annual underfunding of Maryland’s public schools identified by an independent analysis overseen by the Maryland State Department of Education.
You can read the full results of the poll here –> Poll Analysis: Maryland Educators Facing Financial Strains