Besides having been an educator myself, I grew up as the daughter of three teachers. My mom, my dad, and my stepmother were all public school teachers, totaling more than 70 years of classroom experience combined. For much of my early childhood, money was tight. Barely earning a living wage, my mom was living paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet. Even though I don't remember my dad talking to me about money when I was a kid, I knew that funds were tight.
Still, I have vivid memories of all my parents spending weekends at the teacher's supply store or Walmart for necessary provisions. Between decorations for the classroom, prizes for games, desperately needed writing equipment like markers and pens, and mountains of paper, my parents spent a lot of money just so that their students would be provided for.
Republicans have once again shown how they want to dismantle the public education system and their utter contempt for women, educators, and the poor.
After seeing this, I tried to limit myself when I had my own classroom to shop for. After all, shouldn't it be the parents' responsibility to buy school supplies for their children? In an ideal world, sure, but then I worked in a low-income school where those basic needs are a struggle to satisfy.
A teacher therefore has three options: spend their own money on supplies, apply for grants and subsidies, or take up the bootstrap mentality that kids should solely be responsible for their own supplies. The problem, of course, with the last option is that this hurts already disadvantaged children. I had students who depended on my stack of pens and paper just to be able to participate in the education that is statistically most likely to get them out of their abject poverty.
But under the new GOP tax reform bill, teachers — as well as other workers in similar fields — will no longer be able to deduct school supplies. Republicans have once again shown their utter contempt for women, educators, and the poor with their determination to dismantle the public education system.
Roughly 75 percent of educators are women, and 56 percent of all educators have at least a master's degree or higher. The national average for a teacher's salary is barely over $36,000, compared to the $78,000 starting salary on average for other careers requiring similar education.
Yet, teachers don't go into it for the money. Which means that the ripping away of a measly $250 for teachers, while at the same time making it easier for the wealthy to send their kids to private school, is offensive. Teachers typically spend double that on school supplies, and those deductions are necessary for educators to live and provide for both their home and their classroom. Teachers are not bargaining chips to be used to feign empathy in our leaders, because to them, that $250 that isn't a big deal to some can make all the difference in a student's life.