House GOP tax plan especially painful for teachers

When making something more "simple" also makes it more costly:

Any full-time instructor at a public or private K-12 school is currently eligible for the $250 deduction. It’s an “above-the-line” deduction, meaning teachers don’t have to itemize to claim it. It’s listed on the part of the tax form alongside deductions for moving expenses, student loan interest and Health Savings Accounts. The House GOP bill does away with those popular deductions as well.

Richardson worries about other ways the legislation may affect education. The Senate bill scraps all state and local tax deductions. Most schools in the United States get their funding from property taxes. Atlanta’s public schools already had to make budget cuts this year after a property tax freeze. School funding could become even more contentious, especially in high-tax cities, if the GOP tax bills are enacted.

In a perfect world, negotiations between the Senate and the House would get rid of the bad parts of each, lessening the sting for teachers and others. But we don't live there. A closer look at some of the things this particular teacher has had to purchase out-of-pocket provides a glimpse of a much deeper problem:

“The first few years that I taught I often spent over $500,” said Darcie Schoeps, a 39-year-old who teaches social studies at a high school in the Bronx, one of America’s poorest neighborhoods. “The textbooks I was given my first year were so outdated they still had the Soviet Union listed as a country.”

Schoeps, who has taught for more than 10 years, used her own money to buy new maps and workbooks with Russia (and other nations) listed appropriately. Now she teaches general education, special education and English as a second language students, requiring her to buy workbooks and games that can suit a wide range of abilities. In her ninth-grade classes, some students read at a fourth-grade level.

If you've been looking for a good retort to the school privatizers who keep hammering about bad schools, there you go. When your education funding is so closely tied to the economic viability of a particular district, don't be surprised when poverty numbers don't improve. Geography should not dictate the quality of education available to children in 21st Century America, but it does.

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