- Despite the Next Generation Science Standards' popularity with students and teachers — particularly due to an increased focus on hands-on experiments that make learning science fun — educators say they're spending hundreds more dollars of their own money annually to make those activities happen, EdSource reports.
- Under the standards, students complete as many as three to four experiments weekly to develop a deeper understanding of scientific concepts, but the cost of simple supplies like vinegar and baking soda, for example, can run a minimum of $50 alone for a group of 150 students.
- Additionally, popular robotics kits can cost as much as $5,200, which, especially when ongoing education budget cuts are considered, is out of reach for science teachers like Hollenbeck Middle School's Laura Ruiz, who told EdSource her annual science supplies budget is $200.
That the Next Generation Science Standards appear to be making learning science fun, exciting and relevant to students should be considered a win for all involved. But the amount of money needed on the part of teachers to successfully accomplish that must absolutely be noted by policymakers as budgets continue to place constraints on districts and schools, and as educators are required to spend more of their own money on supplies for their classrooms.
Yes, options like crowdfunding exist and can help alleviate those concerns, but should educators really have to essentially resort to begging on the internet for the funds they need to ensure students are provided a quality education? In many cases, administrators may need to better highlight these situations to parents and work to enlist them in pressuring lawmakers for change — especially as many of those same lawmakers lament the need for better STEM and career/technical ed opportunities for political points.
Unfortunately, the scenario could get worse before it improves: One GOP tax bill proposal has suggested slashing a $250 tax deduction for teachers who've spent their own money on classroom supplies.