It’s bad enough that we live in a time where our underpaid, undervalued, overworked teachers have to spend their own money to purchase supplies. What’s worse is that now conservatives want to take money out of teachers’ pockets so they can give massive tax breaks to corporations and the One Percent.
A proposed House GOP tax bill, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, would eliminate a $250 deduction that educators can use to help offset some costs of classroom materials.
As a teacher at a high-poverty school, I’ve bought tape, notebooks, hand sanitizer, soap, towels, glue, glitter, books, stickers, pens, pencils and even fruit and snacks for students. I’ve bought cake mix for birthdays and gift bags for holidays. Once I bought an outfit for a student who wore the same hole-filled pants to school for weeks.
It should be obvious to anyone reading this that teachers don’t do these things to get a tax deduction. But the educator expense deduction helps teachers offset some of their classroom spending.
The educator expense deduction is a way of saying “thank you, you’re appreciated” to teachers who spend countless hours and dollars in the classroom molding America’s next generation. Supplementing classrooms, especially high-poverty ones, with supplies not only makes teacher’s jobs easier, it makes students feel cherished and welcomed, which in turn helps them focus and learn more.
The Tax Cut and Jobs Act would decrease the federal taxes on someone making over $480,051 from 39.6% to 35%, and would deprive educators of their expense deduction. In other words, this GOP tax bill would take a $250 tax credit from every educator like me and give every millionaire an additional $46,000 per year.
So while it will become harder for me to provide snacks to the impoverished students I teach in my classroom, every millionaire would get a tax break bigger than my salary. How can we possibly pretend education matters to conservatives with this offer even under consideration?