A teacher went viral on TikTok when she shared the shocking budget the school gave her to buy art supplies

A frustrated art teacher took to TikTok to share her budget to buy supplies for the upcoming school year, and it immediately went viral.

“You want to see something sad?” said the teacher, who is in her 20s and identifies only as Haley. “I’m an art teacher and this is my allocation for art supplies for my classroom for this year – $50.”

Almost 500,000 viewers watched the video, which was shared under the username @hcross93.

In a second video, Haley explained that she’s employed by two different schools, one of which allocates $350 a year — an ample amount, she said. She is also employed at a preschool where she was only paid $50 for materials.

@hcross93 #teacher #teachersoftiktok #art #artteacher #artteachersoftiktok #wow #sad ♬ Original soundtrack – Hayley 🪴

So what did she do with that meager budget?

“I got two stacks of colored paper,” Haley said. “It was. It’s all I could afford.”

Many TikTok users were offended by the school’s unwillingness to invest in art education, Newsweek reports.

“That’s just WRONG,” said one commenter. “This breaks my heart for you and our children!”

@hcross93 Sorry I got the amounts wrong. I really appreciate the positive comments and concerns. I hope this answers many of the questions asked and I assure you that I will not give my children a boring year. ❤️ #teacher #art #artteacher #artteachersoftiktok #artteacherlife ♬ Original sound – Hayley 🪴

New York City allocates a comparatively hefty $79.62 per public school student for arts funding. But since 2007, schools have been free to spend that money as they see fit, not necessarily on art supplies. That’s because former Mayor Michael Bloomberg scrapped a 1997 initiative that mandated an allocation of arts spending for each student, resulting in an immediate 63 percent drop in spending on arts supplies.

This spring, the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable ran an unsuccessful It Starts with the Arts campaign to increase arts funding to $100 per student.

“Before the pandemic, a majority of school leaders found that funding for the arts was inadequate,” the campaign reads. “And now the pandemic has only exacerbated that problem — and students need the arts now more than ever after two years of social isolation and learning loss.”

A New York City public school student during an art class at Yung Wing School PS 124. Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.

A New York City public school student during an art class at Yung Wing School PS 124. Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.

For the upcoming school year, Mayor Eric Adams has slashed the total budget for public schools by $200 million — a move Hyperallergic says will have a disproportionate impact on arts departments.

Although questioned in the court system, the new budget, based on falling enrollments, is currently in effect and has cost hundreds of teachers their jobs – many of them art or music teachers. (This will also result in a 70 percent reduction in the budget for arts education from 2021.)

An art class at Yung Wing School PS 124 in New York City.  Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.

An art class at Yung Wing School PS 124 in New York City. Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.

“My goal in creating TikTok was to show people who might not be aware of the state of the art in public education,” she said. “It’s bad. It’s always been bad, but now, especially post COVID, the state of the economy is bad right now.”

Although most TikTok users expressed support for improved arts education, some questioned the need to spend money on something they see as a non-essential issue. Haley was ready with a quick reply.

“If you think art isn’t important, you better delete this app, better throw away your video games, and better rip up all your magazines, because art is everywhere and incredibly important,” she said.

@hcross93 in reply to @matterr703 ♬ Original sound – Hayley 🪴

Despite this, Haley has declined all offers of help. She’ll instead rely on the support of her PTA, her principal, and creative solutions like using egg cartons and cardboard toilet paper rolls as unconventional crafting materials.

The point, Haley pointed out, was never to solicit financial support from the internet in general.

“I was just trying to stimulate systematic change. One way you can help is to reach out to your local art teacher… and see what they need in their classroom,” Haley said. “If you want to change something, do it where you are.”

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