As Congress hashes out the final details of its tax bill this week, a $250 tax credit for teachers who buy classroom supplies has been returned following a public outcry over an earlier draft that had removed it.
Kyla Lawrence is a high school Social Studies teacher at the North Little Rock Academy. She buys extra pencils, paper, binders and basic school supplies for her students throughout the year.
“That tax credit has been very helpful in the past in trying to recoup some of the money I spend out of my own pocket because I want children to be successful.”
She says she spends about $500 dollars on supplies a year, so the $250 tax credit goes to good use.
Dr. Victoria Groves-Scott is dean of the College of Education at the University of Central Arkansas. She says teachers often purchase special classroom tools like smelly markers, glitter, or gummy bears to keep kids engaged, but they also purchase more basic things, like shoes, soap or, in her case one time, a child’s first pillow.
She knew he had asked for one for his birthday.
“He came to school and I said, 'Oh, did you get the pillow for your birthday?' And he said, 'No, we just didn’t have enough money for something like that,' and so I went and bought him his first pillow,” she says.
Michael Pakko, economist at the Arkansas Economic Development Institute, says there was a big pushback against the proposed cuts to the teacher credit earlier this month.
“My suspicion is that this is the kind of issue that plays well with the voters, you know? Teachers who devote their own resources to having better students, more effective classrooms, certainly deserve to have their deductions,” he said.
An earlier version of the Senate tax bill had doubled the proposed tax credit to $500 a year, which the National School Supply and Equipment Association estimates is the amount teachers spend on school supplies on average each year.
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