Representatives Bush, Bowman & Hayes Introduce Legislation to Provide Students & Teachers with School Supplies at No Cost

Access to School Supplies Act of 2022

Representatives Cori Bush (MO-01), Jamaal Bowman Ed.D. (NY-16), and Jahana Hayes (CT-05) introduced the Access to School Supplies Act of 2022, which would bolster federal investments in our nation’s public schools by implementing a $500 million pilot program to provide students, teachers, librarians, and support staff with school supplies at no cost. This legislation would target high-poverty schools to ensure the resources are directed toward our students most in need. On average, families spend more than $860 on school supplies, with teachers spending around $750 each year to buy supplies out-of-pocket.

“As a single mother of two, I remember struggling to afford all the school supplies my children needed when they were in school. I remember feeling more financially strained and stressed when it came time for Back-to-School shopping than I ever did shopping during the holidays—and I know I wasn’t alone,”said Congresswoman Bush. “Each school year, millions of students, families, and teachers struggle to afford basic school supplies needed for students to succeed in school. This is why my colleagues and I are proud to introduce the Access to School Supplies Act, legislation that would help provide free school supplies to students and teachers, starting with those with the greatest need. I hope this legislation will help relieve students, families, and teachers of this burden, so the only thing our students have to think about is learning.”

“Not every public school district can afford to equip their students and teachers with the school supplies they need, especially Black, brown, and low-income school districts, which is why the Access to School Supplies Act is a key component of ensuring the success of all of our public schools,” said Congressman Bowman Ed.D. “For far too long teachers have spent their own salary on school supplies and families have struggled to afford them. As a former educator and a parent I know this experience all too well. I’ve had to use my own salary for my students’ school supplies, while also needing to buy supplies for my own children. When students have access to the supplies they need, they are better able to engage fully in their academic environments and a wide-range of holistic learning opportunities that are essential for academic growth, socio-emotional learning, and community building. Black, brown, and low-income school districts have been left behind for decades, and theAccess to School Supplies Act is an important step towards equipping all school districts, educators, and students with the supplies they need.”

“As school budgets continue to shrink, educators and families are faced with the impossible decision of figuring out how to provide basic school supplies. I know firsthand how a student’s educational experience can be compromised because of a lack of resources,” said Congresswoman Hayes. “The Access to School Supplies Act would help to provide school supplies so that students and teachers can focus on learning.  I look forward to working with Reps. Bush and Bowman on these efforts to make education more accessible for all.”

The Access to School Supplies Act would help alleviate the burden of purchasing school supplies away from teachers, families, and nonprofits, and bolster federal investment in our nation’s public schools. Specifically, this legislation would:

  • Provide school supplies at no cost to students, teachers and instructional staff;
  • Increase the number of students who have access to the school supplies needed to maintain a stable learning environment; and
  • Improve student academic achievement in schools, particularly for low-income students.

This legislation is endorsed by: National Education Association, SchoolHouse Connection, Board of Education for the City of St. Louis, All4Ed, American Consortium for Equity in Education, American Youth Policy Forum, American Federation of Teachers Missouri, and American Federation of Teachers St. Louis.

“Lack of school supplies is a persistent barrier for students experiencing homelessness and other low-income students. SchoolHouse Connection is pleased to support the Access to School Supplies Act, which will help demonstrate what can be achieved when both students and instructional staff have access to the school supplies needed for stability and success,” said Barbara Duffield, SchoolHouse Connection Executive Director.

“The American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Funding has underscored what we already knew; providing free school supplies takes a significant burden off students, parents, and teachers. However, ESSER funds are limited, and we need a way to continue this support. We believe that securing school supplies, particularly for our most vulnerable students, is one of the easiest and most important ways we can make a difference,” said Matt Davis, Esq. President, Board of Education for the City of St. Louis.

“It is important that we support all efforts to provide school supplies to every student as it speaks directly to a critical need. Having the right supplies is an equity issue, as so many of our homeless families have trouble securing even the basics to ensure their student’s success in school. I believe that anything we can do to ease their burden will yield measurable results for students over time,” said Deidra Thomas-Murray, Ed. D., MSW, Students in Transition Coordinator and Foster Care Liaison, Saint Louis Public Schools.

“As an educator, I know the real-life challenges of ensuring that all students, teachers, librarians, and support staff have access to school supplies. Sadly, too often, educators depend on online wish lists or their own pocketbooks to fill the need,” said Deborah S. Delisle, President and CEO of All4Ed. “I know the personal burden of paying out of my pocket for too many supplies. The Access to School Supplies Act would not only level the playing field for many students but alleviate some of the burdens on educators who already provide so much to their students and classrooms.”

“A public-school education should inherently protect families from having to choose between paying bills and buying school supplies. The Access to School Supplies Act of 2022 will empower some of the nation’s most disadvantaged learners to focus on succeeding at school, pursuing big goals, and building a bright future. We join Congresswoman Bush in advocating for these students, families, and teachers, and we endorse the bill wholeheartedly,” said Maia Appleby, Executive Director, American Consortium for Equity in Education.

A copy of this legislation can be found HERE.

A one-pager for this legislation can be found HERE.

The American Consortium for Equity in Education, publisher of the "Equity & Access" journal, celebrates and connects the educators, associations, community partners and industry leaders who are working to solve problems and create a more equitable environment for historically underserved pre K-12 students throughout the United States.

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