I attended public schools from Kindergarten through 12th grade. So have my children. The majority of my classroom teaching was in public schools. I teach at a public university. I am a strong advocate for public schools, and in my work I try to recruit and train pre-service teachers to teach in urban public schools.
I believe the very foundation of our democracy is reflected in offering every citizen a free and appropriate public education. We benefit greatly from a well-educated, informed electorate (which is questionable these days…but I digress). I also firmly believe the quality of an education should not be determined by zip codes or income levels. That is not equal. Wealthy parents who want to send their children to private schools, have the prerogative to do so, but this should not have any bearing on the quality of education offered to every child in this country attending a public school. Not ever. That is not equal.
As I have so often written in my blog, I have such great disdain for charters and vouchers- because that money is taken away from the very students who need it the most.
Let me get to the point. Like many of you, I’m trying to get my head around this proposed tax scandal being considered in Washington. As far as I can understand, this is how it will potentially impact public education: The current bill being considered would offer incentives to private school parents while at the same time cutting the deduction for state and local taxes that fund public schools. That means the wealthiest people in this country would be able to divert their tax dollars to pay for private and parochial school tuition, possibly even before a child is born.
“It’s crazy that we’re eliminating the ability of people to deduct their state and local taxes that go directly to local services, including schools . . . while at the same time providing a $10,000 incentive for folks to send their kids to private schools,” said Sasha Pudelski, assistant director for policy and advocacy at the American Association of School Administrators, which represents public school superintendents across the country (Washington Post).
What else is in the tax bill? This from the Network for Public Education:
- Both the House and Senate bills dramatically lower the federal deduction for state and local taxes, making it tougher to raise funds for public schools. This means you will be taxed on part of your income already taxed to support public schools.
- The House bill also eliminates the tax deduction for student loan interest, taxes tuition waivers as income, and eliminates the small tax credit for teachers to buy school supplies.
Before the bill was passed, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said, “This change will have real and significant effects. Your vote will expand options for parents and children spending their own money, and will prioritize the education of the next generation of Americans” (Washington Post).
If I could paraphrase, “Your vote will expand options for wealthy parents spending their own money on private and religious schools, and will take from the poorest (and largest) percentage of families, further expanding the level of income inequality for the next generation of Americans”.
One more thing this tax bill proposes is to eliminates a $250 tax deduction for teachers who spend their own money on classroom supplies. Really???
Rather than further pontificate on this bill, or this Congress, I am asking for your advocacy for public education. Here’s a link to voice your opinion. Please sign and share. Tell this deplorable Congress that taking funding away from the poorest children and eliminating $250 deduction for teachers is absolutely ridiculous.
These are my reflections for today.
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