Teachers can deduct up to $500 in the new tax plan

A friend of mine asked my opinion about an article from The BBC Website entitled, “What you May have Missed in the US Tax Plan”. The article discusses how the bill is “packed with targeted goodies” to help get and keep the senators’ yes votes. One ‘goodie’ involves allowing teachers to deduct up to $500 in classroom purchases. It’s a response to the removal of the current tax code’s $250 teacher’s classroom expenditures deduction.

So, here goes.

I currently have 2 responses, in no particular order.

My first response:
Oligarchs and plutocrats to Educators:
“Here, lowly teachers, please accept this reinstatement of your $250 itemized deduction for classroom materials purchased with your own money (who knew there would be such bad publicity for that line item in our fabulous-for-everyone-but-billionaires budget?) In fact, we are going to DOUBLE (yes, times 2!) that deduction, which brings it up to $500, (for those of you teachers who are not ‘math people’). We are making this generous concession in hopes that you will be so thrilled and relieved with this unexpected windfall that you won’t notice that we are:

Firstly: attempting to divert the 90% or so of US students currently attending local, free, public schools to charters, most of which
• choose their students, usually excluding those students that do not perform well on standardized tests, (and by that I mean those students from poor families, students whose parents are not highly educated, students whose families don’t speak fluent standard, formal English, and/or students who have special needs)
• Have a less-than-transparent and often highly obfuscated method available for tax payers to track where their federal dollars go at the charter
• May or may not hire highly qualified teachers
• May or may not offer a rigorous, diverse, inclusive curriculum featuring science-based Science
• may or may not abide by the state Education Code and/or the locally elected School Board’s policies, and/or the agreement between the school district and its employees
• and 20 years in to the ‘experiment’, are being shown in study after study to under-perform their peers in the public schools, even though charters tend to take advantage of one or more of the above advantages.

Secondly: Attempting to use vouchers as a way for families who can already afford private school to write off the tuition.

Thirdly: Attempting to make college loan interest no longer tax deductible

Fourthly: Refusing to fund CHiP, which means 9 million children lose their health care.”

Educators (Okay, specifically me; I may not speak for all of us) to our political leaders:
“Thank you so much! I will graciously accept your token pittance, and I will use the ‘extra’ money to
• Fight to abolish for-profit charters and virtual schools,
• Fight to end vouchers,
• Reinstate CHiP,
• Address the student loan situation so that it is again a benefit for the student and not a burden,
• Reinstate the Obama administration’s policies on campus rape and victim rights,
• Reinstate DACA,
• Maintain the mandatory participation in the ACA,
• Maintain the separation of church and state,
• End excessive standardized testing in schools,
• End the practice of basing teacher effectiveness on student test scores,
• And fight to equitably fund public schools because a cornerstone of our democracy is that its citizens can gather and evaluate information and make informed decisions, and I believe that the American Public is best served when each and every school-aged child in this nation receives a free, quality, public education.

My second response: I typically spend between $1000 and $2000 per year in my classroom. When I discussed this with my financial planner a few years ago, he said, “What? Do you have any idea of the lost opportunity costs associated with that kind of money?”
I replied, “You mean, I could have been investing that money in my future?
Oh, wait… I was.”

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