Funding for the public school system has been a hot topic recently. In many different states, teachers have been taking to the streets to protest budget cuts and a lack of raises over the past few years.
Even if you don't have children in the school system or aren't in school yourself, what can you do to give back to the public school system, other than just donating money? Here are five ideas.
1. Sponsor a teacher
Stipends from the school board don't go very far when you have to buy supplies for a classroom of 30. Most teachers report spending an average of $480 every school year out of their own pockets for supplies alone.
Why not sponsor a local teacher? Whether they need money, school supplies, snacks for their classroom or whatever else comes to mind, providing support for a teacher can give at least one educator in your local school district some piece of mind, at least when it comes to their classroom.
Programs like Adopt-A-Classroom make it easy to do this.
Even if you don't have a child in the school system or a degree in teaching, chances are that your local school could use your help anyway.
Volunteers can help by chaperoning field trips, coaching sports teams, or signing up to be a crossing guard or bus assistant.
It isn't a job, so it's not something you can get paid to do, but it will let you give back to the school system without spending any money. Depending on your school district, you will probably need to be fingerprinted and undergo a background check.
3. Play the lottery
This will depend on your state, but most states earmark some or all of their state lottery earnings for the state's public school system. If your state is one of these, all you have to do to support the local school system is to play the lottery.
The state of Virginia, for example, has generated more than $500 million in proceeds for its school system every year for the last five years.
4. Shop with supporting companies
Some of the biggest companies in the world care about more than just their bottom line and are happy to throw some of their considerable weight behind public school systems nationwide.
For example, Google Education provides funding grants to schools around the world. Disney donates millions of dollars in books, as well as money for education-based non-profit organizations. Microsoft, via the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, creates grants for K-12 education and works with legislators to create laws that help students succeed.
5. Support local libraries
A lot of school work revolves around the internet — despite the fact that roughly half of the low-income families in the United States don't have internet in their homes. Local libraries help to provide internet for people who don't have it, as well as research materials and other resources.
Donate to your local libraries — and not just money, either. Books, supplies and even printer ink can all help out and allow their programs to continue.
You don't have to donate money to a local school to support the public school system. Even just donating your time as a volunteer can make a world of difference.
It's up to us to make sure our children have the tools they need to succeed once they become adults — and teachers can't help them do that without supplies, volunteers and funding.
You don't have to empty your bank account to support your local school system. Sometimes, all you need to do is show up.