By Dan Laitsch, Chairperson, Institute for Public Education/BC
We all know teachers spend an enormous amount of their own money on their students, their classrooms, and their schools. But how much?
To try and better understand just how much money comes into the system from educators, the Institute for Public Education/BC (IPE/BC) is launching a new project: we call it Out of Our Pockets, and it is designed to track teacher spending of their own money on their students, classrooms, colleagues, and schools.
IPE/BC is an independent, non-partisan society that provides high-quality information and leadership to build a strong public education system for BC’s children, families, and communities. As a core part of our mission, we have been tracking funding for education in BC and across Canada since our founding in 2016.
We know that teachers spend hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of dollars of their own money ensuring their students have access to adequate food, clothing, hygiene products, as well as curricular and extracurricular resources. During the pandemic, educators have spent their own money on PPE and cleaning products to ensure safer learning environments for their students.
All this money covers core services that should be provided by the provincial government. We hope that with this tracking we can better understand spending needs and patterns, which will allow us to advocate for changes in policy and funding to ensure that the basic health and learning needs of all public school students are met.
Our website (ooop.ca) is currently being pilot-tested as we move to scaling up the project for full implementation this summer. We invite you to check out the website and join us in our effort to track teacher out-of-pocket spending.
At ooop.ca you’ll create an account where you can easily enter and track your spending across five categories: COVID-related, teaching materials, student learning materials, extracurricular materials, and financial support for students. Designed to be compatible with smart phones, you can easily enter your data, even while you’re standing in line at the store.
The system allows you to monitor your spending to better understand your school’s resource needs. You can also look back on what you’ve spent over the year, which can be helpful at tax time.
Registering now will ensure you are part of the full system once it is launched later this year. All information entered on the website is held in confidence and, as a user-driven system, your participation is entirely voluntary: you can add, delete, and revise any of the data entered, and close your account at any time.
We invite you to check out ooop.ca. Sign up to record your out-of-pocket spending. Send us any questions you have through our feedback link. We also encourage you to visit the IPE/BC website (instituteforpubliceducation.org) and look at all of our work to support BC’s public school system. Together, we can shine a bright light on the structural funding gaps built into the system as we advocate for change.