On the surface, a proposed tax break for K-12 teachers looks promising. However, when compared with tax breaks and further incentives given to other professionals, this tax break is really nothing more than an attempt to placate detractors of President George W. Bush’s education plans. If Bush really wants to help teachers, he should start by helping to increase their pay and by providing schools with more modern materials.
According to Time magazine, teachers spend more than $1 billion of their own money each year on classroom supplies and books. Teachers’ salaries, as most people know, are not large by any standard and are barely sufficient for personal living costs.
Schools cannot be blamed too much because they too suffer from a distinct lack of funding in most states.
Bush proposed a slight solution to help teachers who buy their own supplies by submitting a proposed tax break of up to $500 for personal money spent on school supplies. This certainly will help some teachers, especially those in elementary grades who statistically spend the most, but it still does not address the larger issues of education reform.
Bush’s proposed Education Savings Accounts, which are basically national vouchers given a more impressive name, will redirect much-needed funds from already suffering public schools. Instead of updating school textbooks, stocking school supplies and paying teachers adequate wages, Bush is giving money to private schools that do not need assistance.
Incentive programs for teachers could be created to make sure that teachers are receiving more up-to-date training in new methodologies and to learn new developments in their respective fields would be a great place to start. This way, teachers could be compensated for acquiring and dispensing better education.
However, until true reform is attempted, students and teachers will continue to suffer from money woes due to a disinterested and misguided government that thinks $500 tax breaks can fix the holes in the American education system.