CATHEDRAL CITY – A young man stood in line at Target on Saturday morning waiting to pay for his purchase, the equivalent of gold for his intended recipients. With great pride, he stacked 26 brightly colored new pencil boxes, one-by-one, on the checkout stand.
It was an impressive sight.
An inquisitive reporter standing in line behind him could not help but ask: “Good Samaritan or teacher?”
The pencil boxes would be delivered to kindergartners at Bubbling Wells Elementary School in Desert Hot Springs where Craig Herbst teaches. It is part of the Palm Springs Unified School District. He has taught kindergarten for 19 years. To him, buying supplies for his classroom is part of the job.
His purchase totaled just shy of $30, a fraction of the “hundreds and hundreds” he will spend out of his own pocket for the pupils in his classroom.
He wasn’t complaining.
His unselfish act drew the attention of other Target shoppers, even the cashier who said she had longed at one time to be a kindergarten teacher. In that moment, he was a celebrity. He smiled with pride.
Turns out he is a compassionate schoolteacher with all the qualities of a Good Samaritan.
The school district will not reimburse him.
In the 2014-15 school year, 94 percent of public school teachers spent their own money on classroom supplies without reimbursement, according to a just-released analysis of federal data.
According to the August 19, 2019 issue of Education Week, on average, these teachers spent $479, according to data from the 2015-16 National Teacher and Principal Survey, a nationally representative sample survey of teachers and principals in the 50 states and the District of Columbia that’s conducted by the U.S. Department of Education.
That’s an increase from the past decade: During the 2006-07 school year, 92.4 percent of public school teachers spent their own money on classroom supplies without reimbursement, according to federal data. The average amount teachers spent then was $450 (the numbers were not adjusted for inflation).
The new data show that the amount teachers spend on school supplies can vary widely. Forty-four percent of teachers spent $250 or less, while 36 percent spent between $251 and $500. Thirteen percent spent between $501 and $1,000, and 7 percent spent more than $1,000.
- Pencil Boxes: Cindy Uken
- Teacher at Target: Cindy Uken