The Proposed GOP Tax Bill Could Hurt Teachers

“As educators spend more and more of their own funds each year to buy basic essentials, Republican leaders chose to ignore the sacrifice made by those who work in our nation’s public schools.”

When I was a middle school English teacher, I’d spend my off hours hanging out with my friends and family, planning lessons, and buying things for my classes. While most schools provide the basics – copy paper, whiteboard erasers, etc. – I always needed something for my students.

One time, I bought 25 novels so my kids could read Walter Dean Myers’ “Monster” as a class. Another, I purchased a pair of speakers because the audio from my laptop was too low to reach the students in the back of the room. Most of my money, however, went toward everyday items that the school just didn’t, or couldn’t, provide – cleaning supplies, markers, extra pencils, construction paper, and snacks for the students who experienced food insecurity at home. While I spent the money willingly, I knew that come tax time I’d get a little of it back, thanks to the educator expense deduction.

But all that could be changing. According to the new tax plan introduced by congressional Republicans this week, the educator deduction, which allows teachers to recoup up to $250 in classroom expenses, would be eliminated. Though it’s hard to imagine how the tiny amount would make a big dent in the bill’s bottom line – particularly since lawmakers are also proposing to slash corporate tax rates from 35% to 20% and completely eliminate the estate tax by 2024 while also eliminating key credits and deductions for college students – it’s just one more blow to teachers, who spend nearly $1,000 a year out of their own pockets on their classrooms.

Both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers have issued scathing rebukes to the proposed plan.

“As educators spend more and more of their own funds each year to buy basic essentials, Republican leaders chose to ignore the sacrifice made by those who work in our nation’s public schools to make sure students have adequate books, pencils, paper and art supplies,” NEA president Lily Eskelsen García said in a press release.

AFT president Randi Weingarten echoed Eskelsen García’s thoughts. “Families need a tax code that is fair and doesn’t rig the economy further in favor of corporations and the rich. But Republicans have come up with a bill that does the exact opposite, handing out massive tax breaks and cutting services to help their wealthy friends,” she argued. “Just do the math. They are paying for tax giveaways for big corporations by destroying the state and local deductions that middle-class families rely on to fund their local public schools, hospitals, and police and fire departments.”

Republicans may control all three branches of government, but the proposed tax bill isn’t a done deal just yet. Some influential lobbying groups have already come out against it, and according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll, 50% of Americans oppose the plan.

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less