National Survey Finds 97 Percent of Teachers Will Do Whatever it Takes to Help Kids Learn – Even Paying Out-of-Pocket for Classroom Supplies

Scarce Classroom Resources Force Teachers to go the Extra Mile, Yet There are Ways Parents Can Help – Just in Time for Teacher Appreciation Week

Naperville, Ill., May 3, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — On the heels of the recession, schools across the nation are scaling back budgets, leaving classrooms in need of some of the most basic supplies like pens, paper, and notebooks. According to the OfficeMax® "National Teaching Realities Survey"1 conducted by Kelton Research in April 2010, the classroom is still thriving, however, due to dedicated teachers who admittedly go above and beyond the call of duty to create the best learning environment for their students. For nearly all (97%) teachers, this means frequently dipping into their own pockets to purchase necessary supplies because most (69%) educators believe that having the right tools in the classroom is essential for their success as a teacher.

As school budgets continue to shrink, seven in ten teachers report their schools are not able to provide them with all the necessary tools to effectively teach their students, and 79% of educators say their classrooms are in need of more items that they currently lack such as essential classroom supplies, paper products, and arts and crafts supplies. Struggling to work with limited resources, six in ten (63%) educators wish they were able to give their students more school supplies, books or rewards, and 67% of teachers want more funding to select the supplies they need for their classrooms.

Selflessly devoted, the majority (82%) of teachers think it is their responsibility to ensure students have the best learning experience possible – no matter the price tag – spending an average of $623 of their own money on supplies for their students each year. Everyday classroom supplies such as pencils and pens (78%), prizes and incentives (72%), and arts and crafts supplies (72%) top the list of purchases teachers make using their own cash.

Willing to do whatever it takes, some teachers said they would give up two vacation days (32%), their lunch hour for one month (28%), part of their summer vacation (25%), or free periods for the rest of the semester (24%) to ensure their students had the best possible learning environment. While most teachers are happy to go the extra mile, almost three in ten teachers (28%) admit their families have had to sacrifice extra luxuries as a result of the money they spend on their classrooms.

Realizing they cannot do it alone, teachers have been forced to take additional measures to make ends meet in the classroom. Eight in ten (80%) educators, who have ever been short on funds for their classroom, have sent a note home to parents requesting specific supply donations. In addition, educators have asked school administrators for more funding (55%), reached out to local businesses for donations (48%) and conducted fundraising programs (41%) to secure much needed financial support.

Surprisingly, a majority (65%) of teachers think most parents are unaware that many educators use their personal money to provide classroom supplies for their students. Yet, teachers are not looking for recognition but rather support from parents through efforts such as attending more school board meetings to speak out on their behalf (69%), donating school supplies to their classroom (68%), and helping organize fundraisers or drives to raise money for classroom supplies (60%).

“Teachers play such an important role supporting, inspiring, and educating our children, and we think it’s wrong that they are also personally bearing costs to provide classroom supplies,” said Bob Thacker, senior vice president of marketing and advertising for OfficeMax. “In response, OfficeMax donates millions of dollars worth of school supplies to teachers each year. During this Teacher Appreciation Week, we urge everyone to think of a teacher who positively impacted their life and thank them with a gift card or supplies for their classroom. Teachers need our support now more than ever.”

To help garner support for educators nationwide, OfficeMax and nonprofit Adopt-A-Classroom founded the national “A Day Made Better” cause to lead the fight to end teacher-funded classrooms. Since 2007, the companies have directly funded over 3,600 classrooms and helped secure donations for over 10,000 classrooms through AdoptAClassroom.com. To learn more about the cause or get involved, please visit www.adaymadebetter.com.

About OfficeMax

OfficeMax Incorporated (NYSE: OMX) is a leader in both business-to-business office products solutions and retail office equipment. The OfficeMax mission is simple. We help our customers do their best work. The company provides office supplies and paper , in-store print and document services through OfficeMax ImPress®, technology products and solutions, and office furniture to consumers and to large, medium and small businesses. OfficeMax customers are served by more than 30,000 associates through direct sales, catalogs, e-commerce and more than 1,000 stores. For more information, visit OfficeMax.com.

Research Methodological Notes

The OfficeMax Teacher Survey was conducted by Kelton Research between April 19th and April 23rd, 2010 using Random Digit Dialing of listed and unlisted numbers. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 5.7 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.




¹A national telephone study among 300 American teachers of grades K-8