Month: November 2017

Tax bill would kill deduction for student loan interest, promote vouchers

 

Elections have consequences, and some more of them are showing up in anti-educator and anti-student provisions in the tax bill drafted by the Republican majority in Congress.

Not only would the bill repeal the $250 tax deduction that under-paid teachers are now afforded for purchasing classroom supplies out of their own pockets, it also would kill the deduction that teachers and millions of other Americans have been able to take for interest on their student loans.

The interest deduction has been as much as $2,500 a year, but it would be wiped off the books. That would increase costs for college loan borrowers by as much as $24 billion over the next 10 years, according to the American Council of Education, which represents 1,600 colleges and universities.

The tax bill also would promote a back-door approach to private school vouchers by allowing taxpayers of any income level to set aside as much as $10,000 a year in tax-free accounts for expenses at private K-12 schools. These tax breaks, which would benefit the wealthy more than anyone else, would drain federal dollars from government programs, including public schools, where the vast majority of children will continue to be educated.

All in all, the tax bill is a poorly disguised attempt to further enrich the top 1 percent and corporations at the expense of educators, students, their families and other middle- and lower-income taxpayers. Use the following link to tell  your representative in Congress that you oppose this bill.

Urge your member of Congress to oppose this tax bill

GOP tax bill would kill deduction for student loan interest

 

 

 

Educators who punish flag protesters are violating the Constitution

 

The issue of not standing for the Pledge of Allegiance as a form of political protest provokes a lot of controversy. Many Americans, including many veterans, are offended, and that is understandable. The president can tweet his outrage, but educators must follow the law. And the law gives every American, including students as well as NFL players, the right not to stand for the pledge.

If students want to sit quietly during the pledge or kneel on the sidelines of the football field while the national anthem is being played, teachers and coaches should leave them alone. And if their school administration has a policy that denies those rights, they should demand that their school board change it.

I bring up this issue for two reasons. First, it is wrong for schools to deny the constitutional rights of any student. And, secondly, if they do they may very well find themselves wasting taxpayer dollars defending against lawsuits they never should have invited and will eventually lose. See the story linked at the end of this post.

The U.S. Supreme Court in a case from West Virginia ruled more than 70 years ago – in the middle of World War II — that requiring students in public schools to salute the flag or recite the pledge was a violation of their First Amendment rights.

American soldiers were dying then to defend those First Amendment rights, and many more have died since. Many Americans, especially veterans and their families, understandly are upset or enraged by what they see as disrespect for the flag. But the rights that veterans served and died to defend included the right of all Americans to peacefully protest by taking a classroom seat during the pledge or a knee during the anthem.

I always recite the pledge and stand for the anthem. But I am a white male who hasn’t experienced a history of the prejudicial behavior that some flag protesters, their families, friends or communities have experienced or may still be living through.

You don’t have to agree with the flag protesters, but as long as they are acting peacefully, respect their right to do so and leave them alone.

2 Texas students sue schools to freely protest the pledge