Do we pay teachers too much money?by Marc Severson on Jun. 10, 2012, under Education
I was reading my NEA Bulletin this week and found out that the Educator Tax Deduction, a feature of our income tax system that allows teachers to recoup some of the money they put into their classrooms, has expired. I thought to myself, “Another potential nail in the coffin of public education.”
The NEA reported: The educator tax deduction, which provides tax relief for educators who reach into their own pockets to pay for classroom supplies, expired at the end of the 2011 tax year. This week, the House Ways and Means Committee held another hearing on extending this deduction along with other tax cuts. 1)
I went ahead and contacted my legislators, just as a good soldier should. I argued that the amount of this tax cut cannot be very significant when compared to the current revenue we are giving away in other venues.
As a teacher, I have always made use of the tax relief the “educator tax deduction” offers even though it never comes close to the amount I have spent. But I was even more disappointed for my wife, and all the other teachers like her. I have retired, I expect to be spending much less of my own money in my new part-time educator job. My wife is entirely another matter and always has been. She does not even keep most of her receipts. My conservative estimate is that she spends about five times what I do in a given year and that is only because when I ask her, she demurs telling me exactly how much she has spent. I have given up asking.
I do not begrudge her this, I know she does not spend wantonly, but I also recognize that she is like many other dedicated teachers who refuse to deny something needed by their students simply because it is not funded.
We have a long tradition in this country of education being subsidized by the educators themselves. I know ours is not the only profession that does this, but in a day and age when our legislators are fully funded, and then some, including the best medical insurance our country has to offer, and teachers are still buying crayons, paper and yes, books out of their own pockets. It does give one pause.
It becomes even more problematic when the deliberative house of that self-same legislature has just this week chosen to vote down a bill that would have demanded equal pay for women. It is common knowledge that women make up the majority of K-12 educational professionals in this country by a wide margin and their percentage of that majority is increasing (http://tucsoncitizen.com/tired-tucson-teacher/2012/05/14/male-teachers-are-disappearing/). 3)
My fear is magnified at these inequities in light of the current push toward privatization of public schools which will only serve to decrease salaries and make funding the key issue of new “the bottom line” in education — profit.
What do we want to be known for? An unrivaled educational system that is the envy of the world or how much money we can make, no matter how we do it?
2 http://www.nea.org/home/52154.htm and National Education Association, Status of the American Public School Teacher 2005–2006, March 2010.