Schwarzenegger for education-as long as it doesn't cost much.

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It’s October. I can no longer see the sun at 8pm. My alarm rings at 5am, and I have to face 130 children everyday. It’s the 6th week of school and the Canon copier has been broken six times. If I’m going to be able to teach a Reading class without books, I need copies of stories. I find a nice little all-in-one printer at Comp USA for $120. Score! I put the receipt in my little receipt box full of all the numerous purchases I’ve made for my classroom for my accountant. And then I hear the bad news…

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has approved the suspension of a $1500 tax credit for teachers for classroom supplies. This perk was originally offered to teachers as an incentive to stay in the field, as most new teachers leave the profession within the first five years. So now, on top of the school budget cuts, teachers will have to make due with whatever peanuts are given to them as an allowance for educational supplies? My school offers $150. Let me put how far this actually goes into perspective for you. Ink-jet transparency paper for overhead projectors is $50 a box of 50 sheets. I still need to buy 10 boxes of crayons, paper, pencils, pens, markers, construction paper, incentive treats (candy, stickers, etc.), file folders, labels, classroom decorating stuff, and plenty of other stuff that gets consumed in a year. Not only is it a bare minimum allowance, it takes two weeks to receive the needed supplies! For someone “for education”, the Governor is ignorant as to how much it costs or what it takes to create a learning environment.

My school offers a solution: give parents a wish list! How ironic that the free public school system has to ask parents for supplies-where the hell is that property tax going?

Taxpayers are allowed to write off expenses for business. Business can mean your job or your own company. The problem is that you usually need to claim about $4000 in order to make it worth your while. While teachers do have many expenses, I’d be very surprised if we purchased $4000 worth of stuff. That’s why the teacher tax credit is so beneficial. What teachers are going to be facing come April 15, 2005 is paying more taxes with no way to itemize any expenses. And when you make $60,000-$75,000 for 15 years of experience, a Bachelors degree, State license to teach, and a Master Degree in Education, it’s a slap in the face. No wonder so many teachers leave the profession.

Teaching is the most highly educated-under paid profession. Perks like tax credits allow teachers to live decently on their salaries even though they buy items out of their pockets that will make their classrooms successful. The problem with this tax credit suspension is that both teachers and students lose.

Many people who read have worked or are currently working as professional educators. I am confident that the types of people that check out are pro-education and pro-teacher. I use this forum to plea that you write our Governor and tell him how you feel about this truly disastrous suspension. Please email the Governator at or write him a snail mail letter at one of the local offices. If you are not eloquent or would like a form letter that you just sign and send, please contact me at my email [Sandra at]. Thanks for your support!

-Sandra Mendoza

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