School funding commission schedules hearing March 5 in La Crosse

The Legislature’s Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding will hold a public hearing Monday, March 5, 2018, beginning at 1:30 p.m. at the North Woods International School, N2541 Sablewood Rd., La Crosse.

The Blue Ribbon Commission will hear testimony from invited speakers including representatives from the Sparta Public School District, Onalaska School District, and CESA 4.

Following the presentations, members of the public are invited to speak and share their thoughts. To ensure all of those in attendance are able to be heard, public testimony will be limited to 5 minutes. Hearing will conclude at 6:00 p.m.

The commission is tasked with examining:

  • The effects of distributing general aid through our equalization aid formula. Attention will also be given to other factors that could improve our efforts to provide equal educational opportunities to all pupils;
  • The relationship between declining enrollment districts and the fixed costs that districts face, and the possible incorporation of a minimum aid per district;
  • Evaluating transportation costs and how districts pay for those costs;
  • Review of high-cost categorical aids and the consideration of other aids that could be created to meet specific needs;
  • Methods to better align funding for various school choice options such as open enrollment, school choice and independent charter schools;
  • Consideration of funding levels for certain extended learning opportunities like summer school, preschool or dual enrollment;
  • Options to provide revenue-limit equity to low-spending districts; and
  • Other technical changes that could improve the transparency of the school finance system.

Legislative Update – February 14 – Assembly OKs rural schools bill

After lengthy debate, the Assembly passed a bill 91-2 to help rural schools. The two members voting against the bill were Reps. Andre Jacque, R-De Pere, and Adam Jarchow, R-Balsam Lake. An amendment allows districts with a failed referendum to present another one to voters. If successful, they would then qualify. This provision in the bill, even with the added amendment, received sharp criticism from Democrats. Rep. Sondy Pope, D-Mt. Horeb, the ranking member of the Assembly Education Committee, voted for the bill, but said she was still troubled over its retroactive provision. “Now that the majority party has finally decided to take meaningful action in funding education, they want to punish districts who did what they had to do just to survive,” Pope said. Here’s more about the bill, from a recent WEAC Legislative Update:

Low Revenue Ceiling and Sparsity Aid. The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) amended Senate Bill 690 before unanimously passing it. The amendment allows for nine school districts that would have been frozen under the proposal the ability to go to advisory referendum to use the low revenue ceiling increase. If the referendum passes, districts could raise the local levy using the low revenue ceiling adjustment. If the referendum fails, a new three-year freeze wouldn’t be enacted but the district would still have to wait the three years since the operational referendum failed to use the low revenue ceiling. The Assembly Education Committee has already passed companion bill AB 835, so the next stop for this one is in the full Senate. Here are the details of the bill:

  • Low Revenue Ceiling: Would increase the low revenue ceiling from $9,100 to $9,400 in 2019. The bill also would increase the low revenue ceiling by $100 each school year, beginning in 2020, until the ceiling reaches $9,800 in 2023. The DPI estimates the statewide cost of this bill to be a maximum of $21.8 million in 2019, depending on whether nine additional school districts going to referendum this spring are successful.
  • Sparsity Aid: This would, beginning in 2019, increase the sparsity aid per pupil amount from $300 to $400. Under the bill, the appropriation for sparsity aid would be increased by $6.5 million in 2019. Sparsity aid was vetoed by the governor in the 2017-19 state budget, but he has said he supports the provisions now.

Meanwhile, voucher lobbyists continue to do their thing at the Capitol, looking for more ways to siphon funding meant for the majority of Wisconsin kids who attend public schools. In fact, SPECIAL NEEDS VOUCHERS ARE SET TO TRIPLE NEXT YEAR.

This week:

Dual Enrollment. The Assembly Education Committee approved AB 851 / SB 711, which requires the University of Wisconsin System to award grants to school districts, independent charter schools and voucher schools to support dual enrollment programs taught in high schools. Under the bill, grants are awarded to assist high school teachers in meeting the minimal qualifications necessary to teach dual enrollment courses. The grants would end after June 30, 2022.

Career and Tech Ed Grants. The Joint Finance Committee meets Tuesday to take up AB-872 / SB-746, which establishes career and technical education incentive grants for school districts and completion awards for pupils.

Workers Comp Changes. The Senate Labor Committee meets Wednesday to take up SB 665, with changes to the worker’s compensation law.

See All the Bills We’re Watching

Legislative Update – February 2

BLUE RIBBON COMMISSION ON SCHOOL FUNDING HOLDS PUBLIC HEARING IN MILWAUKEE

A school funding commission created by the Legislature met Friday, February 2, in Milwaukee, with invited testimony from Milwaukee Public Schools, the Southeast Wisconsin Schools Alliance and a voucher lobbyist group. The hearing was one of a handful planned around the state to inform the next biennium budget.

Senator Luther Olsen opened the meeting, repeating his stance that making changes to school funding requires money in order to make sure there aren’t schools that win and other schools that lose. Olsen said school districts need to be held harmless in any proposal or there will never be enough support in the Legislature to pass it.

Highlights of the Milwaukee Public Schools testimony included support for mental health needs, transportation needs and literacy issues. The Alliance highlighted issues affecting schools, including declining enrollment and the need for local control of school start dates. The voucher lobby said funding should have a “mobility function.”

Public education advocates prepared to speak out around the hearings said one concern stands out across our communities: inequity. “All children have a right to a quality public education, but parents do not feel that their public schools are receiving adequate resources from the state,” said Ingrid Walker-Henry, co-chair of Schools and Communities United in Milwaukee, pointing out that this concern is tied directly to the strain of private school funding schemes on public school funds. “For over 25 years, Milwaukee has been home to a private voucher school experiment. Parents have grave concerns about the millions of public dollars being siphoned to private, unaccountable school operators who are not performing better than our public schools. We hope that legislators on the committee will hear Milwaukee parents’ calls for adequate and equitable funding and for all publicly funded schools to be held to the same standards of transparency and accountability as our public schools.”

This week in the Legislature:

Common School Funds. A public hearing was held on Senate Bill 713 / AB 857. The bill would eliminate the authority of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands to make state trust fund loans, broaden the authority of the BCPL to delegate its authority to invest state trust fund moneys, and remove certain restrictions on the use of common school fund income moneys. As educators working in schools with shoestring budgets, we know the Common School Funds are often the only monies available to keep our school libraries running.

  • In a nutshell, the requirement that schools spend Common School Fund monies on instructional materials, library books or school library computers/software would be eliminated under this bill, and any items purchased would no longer have to be located in the school library.
  • Since the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands would no longer make loans, the interest from those loans – which now goes into the Common School Fund – would be gone. Over the past 10 years, the loan program invested over $1 billion in Wisconsin, and the interest earnings are a key source of revenue for the Common School Fund.
  • The bill would for the first time allow SWIB to invest state trust fund dollars using their typical investment strategy, instead of only investing in fixed accounts. It’s estimated if this approach were active during the financial crash of 2008, a loss up to $290 million would have occurred and school libraries would have been left in the dark.

Low Revenue Ceiling and Sparsity Aid. The Assembly Education Committee passed AB 835, a bill to help rural schools. Sparsity aid was vetoed by the governor in the 2017-19 state budget, but he has said he supports the provisions now. The bill addresses two areas:

  • Low Revenue Ceiling: Would increase the low revenue ceiling from $9,100 to $9,400 in 2019. The bill also would increase the low revenue ceiling by $100 each school year, beginning in 2020, until the ceiling reaches $9,800 in 2023. Districts with failed operating referendums in the prior three years would not be eligible. Of the 107 school districts that would be eligible under this bill, nine had failed referenda. The DPI estimates the statewide cost of this bill to be a maximum of $21.8 million in 2019, depending on whether nine additional school districts going to referendum this spring are successful.
  • Sparsity Aid: This would, beginning in 2019, increase the sparsity aid per pupil amount from $300 to $400. Under the bill, the appropriation for sparsity aid would be increased by $6.5 million in 2019.

Annual School Reports. The Assembly Education Committee held a public hearing on AB569, which requires the Department of Public Instruction to publish its annual school and school district accountability report by November 30, rather than in September. This bill also changes the date by which DPI must determine whether a school is placed in the school takeover program to November 30 instead of October 15. The Senate has already passed the companion bill, SB-494.

Excluding capital improvements from shared cost in some districts. The Assembly Education Committee held a public hearing on AB 803. In this bill, expenditures from either a school district’s general fund or debt service fund that are authorized by a capital referendum are excluded from the school district’s shared cost if the school district is a negative tertiary school district. In other words, under the bill, a negative tertiary school district will not lose equalization aid for capital expenditures that exceed the tertiary guarantee and are funded by referenda. The bill protects some school districts in areas with high property wealth and per-pupil spending from seeing general aid deductions in the school funding formula in cases where voters approve capital projects. There is currently no companion bill in the Senate.

Grants to schools for public safety training. The Assembly Committee on Workforce Development held a hearing on AB 872, which creates an incentive grant program for school districts that provide
training for certain public safety occupations and provides completion awards for students who complete those programs. The Assembly committee is set to vote on the measure Tuesday and the companion bill, SB 746, is set for a Senate committee vote on Thursday.

Pupil Exam InformationAB-300 / SB 222 was passed out of the Assembly and Senate education committees. The bill requires school boards beginning next school year to annually provide information about mandatory pupil examinations to parents and guardians.

Tech grants for apprenticeship training programs. AB 808 was passed by an Assembly committee. The Senate Workforce Development Committee held a public hearing on companion bill SB 682, which creates a grant program under which the Technical College System Board may award grants of up to $1,000 to technical college students who have undertaken an apprenticeship training program in conjunction with their course of instruction at the technical college. These grants may be awarded only to assist students in paying materials expenses associated with the apprenticeship training program, including costs of purchasing tools, clothing, equipment, and supplies. The TCS Board must establish an application process and criteria for awarding these grants, which criteria must consider the financial need and anticipated or actual expenses of the applicant. The TCS Board may award grants totaling up to $50,000 per academic year.

Gifted and talented vouchers. A fiscal estimate was received for the latest voucher scam, AB830 / SB725. The bill claims to help low-income parents get services for their gifted and talented children, but instead it expands the amount of tax dollars spent on private schools – at the expense of the 90 percent of children who attend public schools. Senator Alberta Darling is proposing the measure, which would pay private school tuition and expenses for 2,000 families who meet requirements set forth. The program would provide $1,000 for each “gifted and talented” student who is already eligible for free or reduced-price school lunches, which means the household’s annual income is at or below $45,510 annually for a family of four.

Robotics league participation grants. Representative Kooyenga was added as a co-author of AB564/SB483, which expands eligibility for robotics grants to include sixth- through eighth-grade teams.

Senate Education Committee meets Tuesday

The following bills will receive public hearings:

Dual Enrollment. SB 711 requires the University of Wisconsin System to award grants to school districts, independent charter schools and voucher schools to support dual enrollment programs taught in high schools. Under the bill, grants are awarded to assist high school teachers in meeting the minimal qualifications necessary to teach dual enrollment courses. The grants would end after June 30, 2022.

College Credit in High SchoolSB 677 / AB-805 would exclude certain college credit in high school programs from the Early College Credit Program. The bill was approved by the Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee this week.

Expanding 4K. SB 663 would allow the Department of Children and Families, as a pilot project, to award grants to organizations, including school boards, with existing four-year-old kindergarten programs for the purpose of expanding those programs.

Repealing rules around large-area supplemental aid. SB 685 / AB 477 would repeal the administrative rules promulgated by the Department of Public Instruction to administer a supplemental aid program for a school district having 500 or fewer pupils and that is at least 200 square miles and incorporates the repealed provisions into current law. The bill also changes, from enrollment to membership, the terminology used to refer to the number of pupils counted to determine the school district’s eligibility to receive the supplemental aid.

County jailers and the WRS. The Assembly is set to vote on AB 676 / SB 577, which would classify county jailers as protective occupation participants under the Wisconsin Retirement System and under the Municipal Employment Relations Act. While the bill would likely not have a cost impact on the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, there is insufficient knowledge as to whether this bill would increase or decrease county costs. Fiscal estimate

Senate Judiciary And Public Safety meets Tuesday

Firearm Possession at School. The committee will vote on AB-496, regarding suspending and expelling a pupil for possession of a firearm at school. Its companion bill, SB-402, has passed out of committee.

Teachers say they are overwhelmed by constant policy changes

Nearly all respondents to an Education Week survey — 86 percent — said they had experienced new changes or reforms in the past two school years, and 58 percent said the changes are “way too much” or “too much.”

The teachers surveyed were most likely to say they’d had changes to their teacher-evaluation systems. Other common areas for reform were curriculum, professional development, and state testing.

About one-third of respondents said the amount of reform was “just about right,” but most teachers (84 percent) agreed that as soon as they get a handle on a new reform, it changes.

Read entire report in Education Week:

Majority of Teachers Say Reforms Have Been ‘Too Much’

Change is hard-particularly for teachers, who are generally taking dozens of students along for the ride. Yet the majority of teachers say they’ve faced major changes-related to what and how they teach, as well as how they’re evaluated-over the last couple of years in their schools and districts, according to a recent survey by the Education Week Research Center.

Congress narrowly approves huge tax giveaway to corporations paid for by students and working families

Funding for more than 130,000 education jobs at risk due to partial elimination of state and local tax deduction

Congressional Republicans on Tuesday narrowly approved a massive tax giveaway to the wealthiest and corporations paid for by students and working families. In addition to adding more than $1 trillion to the nation’s debt, Congress voted to partially repeal the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act, which would leave 13 million Americans uninsured and result in drastic spikes in insurance premiums for millions more. The bill also expands an education tax loophole that would further benefit the wealthy and allow them to set aside money for private school expenses — essentially a voucher program for wealthy families.

The partial elimination of the century-old state and local tax deduction also puts in jeopardy the ability of states and local communities to fund public education, potentially risking state funding for more than 130,000 education jobs according to a new NEA analysis. Congress approved the bill despite warning signs from the non-partisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, in a report titled “A Punishing Decade for School Funding,” that public investment in K-12 schools has declined dramatically in a number of states over the last decade.

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García issued the following statement:

“Hypocrisy is at the heart of the tax bill approved by Congressional Republicans. It reveals the ill-conceived and misguided priorities of Republican leaders in Washington. It is nothing more than a massive transfer of wealth – a giveaway to corporate special interests and the wealthy paid for by working families and students.

“The tax bill is misguided because expanding education tax loopholes — vouchers for the rich — to allow wealthy families to stash away money for private school will hurt students and neighborhood public schools.

“The hypocrisy at the heart of the tax bill is unmistakable. The bill largely eliminates state and local deductions for working people but keeps it for corporations. Millions of hard-working people will see their taxes increase. On top of it all, this bill will take away health care coverage for 13 million Americans and cause premiums to spike for millions more. In the end, this disastrous bill will push crushing debt and tax increases onto the middle class while Medicare, Medicaid, and education will take the brunt of the cuts.

“Public schools have not fully recovered from the Great Recession. Now, by eliminating the state and local tax deduction, Congress just voted to blow a hole in state and local revenue to support public education, potentially risking the jobs of more than 130,000 educators, exposing public school students to serious and potentially damaging consequences — ballooning class sizes and overcrowded classrooms that deprive students of one-on-one attention.

“It is deeply disappointing that too many members of Congress chose to stand with corporate special interests and the wealthy, instead of with working families and students. The choice they made today was the wrong one for our nation and will be disastrous for our students.”

Legislative Update – December 6

Commission on School Funding: The leaders of the Wisconsin State Legislature on Wednesday announced creation of a Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding that does not include any classroom educators.

“As educators, we are a steady voice for a solution to Wisconsin’s broken school funding system,” said WEAC President Ron Martin. “It’s alarming that no classroom educators are included on the Commission because teachers and support staff know firsthand how the inadequate and inequitable funding impacts learning every day.

“It’s time for Wisconsin leaders to move from promises to action when it comes to living up to their responsibilities to our students, and that starts with including educators’ voices in the mix.”

While the concept of the Commission was floated earlier in the Legislative session, membership was just named. Leaders of the commission are Rep. Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay) and Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon). The commission will examine how tax dollars are distributed to schools and make recommendations to better meet the needs of students across Wisconsin. Read the GOP leadership’s news release

Senator Stroebel appointed to Joint Finance Committee. Senator Duey Stroebel is the newest member of the Joint Finance Committee. Stroebel, of Saukville, replaces Sheila Harsdorf, who is the new secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. He also was one of three Republicans who issued a series of veto demands to Governor Scott Walker before agreeing to support final passage of the budget. Stroebel is also a key author of AB324/SB190 (currently in committee), which increases the minimum age requirement under WRS and changes the way earnings are calculated. Stroebel will serve the remainder of the 2017-18 term.

Child Labor Permits. Senate and Assembly committees are recommending passage of a bill (SB-420 / AB-504) to allow a minor to be employed without a child labor permit by a family business.

Literacy Grants. An Assembly committee is recommending passage of AB 541 (companion bill SB 449). This bill requires the Department of Health Services to distribute grants to the Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin to support the early literacy program known as Reach Out and Read Wisconsin. The bill would provide $200,000 in 2018 and $300,000 in 2019.

County jailers and the WRS. A fiscal estimate was received for AB 676 (companion bill SB 577), which would classify county jailers as protective occupation participants under the Wisconsin Retirement System and under the Municipal Employment Relations Act. While the bill would likely not have a cost impact on the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, there is insufficient knowledge as to whether this bill would increase or decrease county costs.

Email your Members of Congress and tell them to VOTE NO on the GOP leadership’s disastrous tax plan!

Senate tax plan hands huge tax giveaways to the rich paid for by students and working families

Funding for 250,000 education jobs at risk if Congress eliminates state and local tax deduction

Click Here to Take Action!

Over the weekend, the Senate approved along party lines a massive tax giveaway to the wealthiest and corporations paid for by students and working families. In addition to adding $1.5 trillion to the national deficit, the Senate voted to partially repeal the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act, which would leave 13 million Americans uninsured and result in drastic spikes in insurance premiums for millions more. The bill also expands an education tax loophole that would further benefit the wealthy and allow them to set aside money for private school expenses—essentially a voucher program for wealthy families.

Also, as the Washington Post reported, the bill could jeopardize the ability of states and local communities to adequately fund public education, potentially risking state funding for hundreds of thousands of education jobs. The Senate approved the measure even as the non-partisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, in a new report titled “A Punishing Decade for School Funding,” found that public investment in K-12 schools has declined dramatically in a number of states over the last decade.

“Hypocrisy is at the heart of the tax bill approved by Senate Republicans,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “It reveals the ill-conceived and misguided priorities of Republican leaders in Washington. Instead of providing tax cuts to those who need it most — the middle class and working families — their plan hands massive tax giveaways to corporate special interests and the wealthy. Expanding education tax loopholes in order for wealthy families to stash away money for private school will hurt neighborhood public schools and students.”

Eskelsen García said the Senate bill will:

  • Eliminate the state and local deductions for working people but keep it for wealthy corporations. Millions of hard working people will see their taxes increase.
  • Take away health care coverage for 13 million Americans and cause premiums to spike for millions more.
  • Possibly trigger $25 billion in automatic cuts to Medicare in 2018 alone.

“In the end,” she said, “this disastrous bill will push crushing debt and tax increases onto the middle class while Medicare, Medicaid, and education will take the brunt of the cuts.”

“Public schools have not fully recovered from the Great Recession. Now, by eliminating the state and local tax deduction, the Senate just voted to blow a hole in state and local revenue to support public education, potentially risking the jobs of hundreds of thousands of educators, exposing public school students to serious and potentially damaging consequences — ballooning class sizes and overcrowded classrooms that deprive students of one-on-one attention,” Eskelsen García said.

“It is outrageous to hand massive tax giveaways for the wealthy and corporate special interests paid for by students and working families. This is a terrible bill for the American people and we need more courage from members of Congress to stop this runaway train.”

29 states – including Wisconsin – spent less on schools in 2015 than in 2008, report finds

It’s been a “punishing decade for school funding,” according to a national report released Wednesday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Wisconsin is among those states suffering from a loss of state funding for public schools, with a 4.1% drop from 2008 to 2015, according to the report.

“Public investment in K-12 schools — crucial for communities to thrive and the U.S. economy to offer broad opportunity — has declined dramatically in a number of states over the last decade,” the report says. “Worse, some of the deepest-cutting states have also cut income tax rates, weakening their main revenue source for supporting schools.

“Most states cut school funding after the recession hit, and it took years for states to restore their funding to pre-recession levels. In 2015, the latest year for which comprehensive spending data are available from the U.S. Census Bureau, 29 states were still providing less total school funding per student than they were in 2008.”

Among the impacts of declining education funding, the report notes, is to thwart efforts for school reform and school improvement.

“Many states have undertaken education reforms such as supporting professional development to improve teacher quality, improving interventions for young children to heighten school readiness, and turning around the lowest-achieving schools,” it states. “Deep cuts in state K-12 spending can undermine those reforms by limiting the funds generally available to improve schools and by terminating or undercutting specific reform initiatives.”

Reforms endangered by funding cuts include:

  • Improving teacher quality.
  • Trimming class size.
  • Expanding learning time.
  • Providing high-quality early education.

Read the entire report:

A Punishing Decade for School Funding

Public investment in K-12 schools has declined dramatically in a number of states over the last decade.Public investment in K-12 schools – crucial for communities to thrive and the U.S. economy to offer broad opportunity – has declined dramatically in a number of states over the last decade.

 

Closing gaps in teacher quality depends on fixing the root causes

A report claiming gaps in access to high-quality teachers is due to a labor shortage misses the point, a review shows. Instead, the root causes of the gaps must be addressed, like rigorous but alternative pathways to teaching and incentives for attracting and keeping educators in hard-to-staff schools.

Read the Review

The issue of gaps between the experience and quality of teachers in different areas of Wisconsin and the nation is on the minds of state leaders, policymakers, school leaders and communities. Research shows many schools face challenges in retaining high-quality teachers, especially urban school districts and small, rural school districts. Studies have also shown when schools don’t have access to high-quality teachers on a consistent basis these gaps can negatively impact students.

The Education Trust published recommendations for state leaders to close gaps created when experienced, highly qualified teachers shy away from working in urban and rural schools. The review of the Ed Trust recommendations showed the report missed an opportunity to address the root causes of the nation’s teacher retention problem and failed to explain the impact of previous federal and state policies on teacher recruitment and retention.

The review also found the report contained significant omissions and relied heavily on think tank reports to support its recommendations, including five of its own.

Furthermore, the report provided little or no guidance as to how to define, identify or access high-quality teachers. It did not provide tools or insights that help state leaders attract and retain high-quality teachers, nor did it identify ways for leaders to understand how to develop incentives and cultures that attract and retain high-quality teachers in high-needs schools.

The review was commissioned by National Education Policy Center with funding from the Great Lakes CenterWEAC partners with the Great Lakes Center to provide reviews of education-related studies. WEAC President Ron Martin sits on the Great Lakes Board of Directors and shares this academic review of a study about tackling gaps in access to strong teachers.

Teachers sound off on potentially losing classroom supply tax deduction

The tax plan approved by the House would eliminate the “educator expense deduction” which allows teachers and administrators to deduct up to $250 for out-of-pocket expenses used in their classrooms and schools: items such as books, school supplies, decorations and computer software. Professional development expenses are also included in the deduction, which was made permanent by Congress in 2015. By contrast, the Senate is considering doubling the education tax deduction to $500, but it’s anyone’s guess how this will come out.

Educators are very concerned about the possibility of losing this tax deduction, especially while the GOP tax plan provides very large deductions for wealthy individuals and corporations. Below is some of the reaction we have seen in recent days. First is a letter from La Crosse teacher Jill Gorell, followed by comments submitted on our Facebook page:

Jill Gorell, 8th Grade Teacher, La Crosse Education Association member:

Being a teacher means spending a lot of personal funds on students and the classroom. I cringe when I see the “end of the year” receipts indicating how much I have spent on my students. It’s overwhelming. Adding to the equation, I’m a single mother, as well as a teacher, who is trying to take care of my own children and their expenses. It’s not easy.

I spend money every day on my 8th grade students. I am constantly providing food for my at-risk and students of poverty who complain on a daily basis how hungry they are. With that, I have a container full of granola bars and other healthy snacks for them to “secretly” grab when their stomachs are growling. In addition to having a bin of snacks, I oftentimes pay off debt on overdue lunch accounts so students can eat lunch. On occasion, I have purchased clothing (such as socks, underwear, and bras) for students who have been at shelters the night before school and are embarrassed because the clothes they are wearing aren’t appropriate or just don’t fit. I provide feminine products to my female students and I’ve been known to give money to students who cannot afford to pay for a school field trip.

Who buys Kleenex, pencils, paper, book bags, notebooks, pens, pencil sharpeners, markers, bus tokens, folders, calculators, and poster boards for the classroom and students? I do. I do this because my students come to school without materials.

These expenses are paid for by me – a hard working single mom who’s a caring and compassionate educator. I cannot imagine “not” helping my students. I do this because it’s the right thing to do.

Eliminating the teacher expense “tax deduction” is beyond hurtful, disappointing, and quite simply a slap in every educator’s face. Educators personally spend hundreds, even thousands, of dollars every year on their students. To eliminate the $250 deduction is yet another attack on the generosity of teachers.

Below are some of the Facebook comments we received when we asked educators how elimination of this tax deduction would affect them and their students (read more here):

Entire comment: It will become the books for my classroom library I won’t buy, the pens and pencils, folders and notebooks I give to my students who can’t buy them. The treats I buy to reward them for reaching their goals. The small tokens of my appreciation that I give them to show that I care that they are reading their goals.

More of this comment: This is another mostly symbolic gesture by those in power to show us how little they value our profession and working people in general. Most of us spend 3-4 times the $250 they allow us to deduct from our income.

Entire comment: I buy the newest popular books for my class. The books I have are older and in order to engage students and help them fall in love with reading. Books aren’t cheap. I have purchased bookshelves, the type from Walmart. I buy art supplies and basic supplies. The deduction makes me feel that at least someone acknowledges it is a necessity. The amount should go up not be eliminated. This tax plan is for the middle class?????????? Really????