By Ryan Velez
With the Republican tax bill looming, sometimes it feels easier to name the groups that wouldn’t feel some sort of negative impact, though this would likely be rather infuriating as well. Dallas News shares the story of one group that could feel the pinch that many may not even be thinking about: classroom teachers.
On paper, this may seem a bit of a surprise, seeing as most teachers are state employees. However, part of the tax plan includes eliminating something called the “educator expense deduction.” This allows teachers and administrators to deduct $250 for out-of-pocket expenses used in their classrooms and schools: items such as books, school supplies, decorations and computer software. Congress made this rule, which also extends to professional development, expenses, permanent in 2015.
“The elimination of the tax [deduction] for teachers who spend money out of their own pockets for supplies is a big blow,” said Steven Poole, the executive director of United Educators Association of Texas, an independent association representing more than 23,000 public school employees in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. “Teachers reach deep in their pockets every year for classroom supplies and this went a long way to offset their costs. It’s unfortunate but now teachers will be left on their own.”
Why are teachers even put in this situation? Oftentimes, it’s a matter of budget. With little to work with, the onus is being put on teachers and administrators to provide materials for their own students. In 2016, a national survey of 4,721 educators by Scholastic found that teachers at high-poverty campuses spent an average of $672 yearly on their own classrooms. Principals at high-poverty campuses spent more than $1,000 on their own school per year.
American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten fiercely rebutted the move in a formal statement: “Trump said he would shake things up, but who would have thought he would hurt virtually every one of the millions who trusted him to help them? We will do everything we can to fight this bill,” Weingarten wrote. “This is a ‘which-side-are-you-on?’ moment, and we are on the side of those who work hard to make a better life for themselves and their families. This bill fails that test.”