Terry McAteer: Teachers are forking out hundreds for their students | TheUnion.com

Terry McAteer: Teachers are forking out hundreds for their students

Terry McAteer

On average, California teachers spend $866 of their own money each year for student and classroom supplies. I don’t know of many professions where every employee gives hundreds of their own dollars back to their workplace.

In fact, California’s teachers rank number one in the nation for their generosity.

The IRS provides a $250 tax credit for teachers who buy out-of-pocket supplies but the California Franchise Tax Board does not allow such a deduction. A bill is afoot in the legislature to provide the same $250 credit. Still, that token of appreciation leaves another $500 of just outright generosity from most teachers in this state.

I know the outlay that teachers provide on a daily basis having been one for most of my career. I have seen teachers buy new tennis shoes for an indigent child whose shoes are falling apart; ink cartridges for their classroom printer and special gifts for students who perform at a high level. This is not the exception but the normal day-to-day life of a California classroom teacher.

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California teachers are some of the highest-paid teachers in the nation, averaging $71,000 per year. State of Nevada teachers, as a comparison, earn about $15,000 less per year. California teachers also have to make ends meet with the high cost of living which California is known for, as compared to Nevada. Imagine how far a $71,000 salary goes when working in San Francisco Unified School District. It is no wonder that district has had to enter into the business of building affordable rental units for its teachers in order to attract and retain them.

School district’s budgets are stretched in California by having to pay teachers higher than normal salaries, which leaves little in resources for classroom supplies. In fact, California spends a little over $11,000 per student, per year, while a low cost of living state like Wyoming spends over $16,000 per student, per year. It’s no wonder then to see that California has the fifth highest student-teacher ratio in the nation. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, we average 25 students per teacher in elementary school and 35 per teacher in high school. Wyoming has 17 and 19, respectively.

Our daughter, Jeanne, is no exception to the California cost of living mountain as she is a special education teacher in Santa Rosa City Schools. Between rent, utilities, and food her annual $68,000 salary is quickly eaten up. She still buys food for hungry kids, supplies for her classroom, awards for high achievers along with “stuff” for special holiday events and activities.

Jeanne and I annually go on a father-daughter school supply outing. The outing is a means for me to give back to her school and save my daughter some out-of-pocket costs from her tight budget. We all know a teacher in our lives who deserves that shopping spree. My hope is to empower you to say “thanks” by providing them with that school year shopping spree, funded by you.

Visit Dave Williams at Williams Stationery in Grass Valley to support a local business and meet your teacher friend for the shopping spree followed by a Saturday lunch at a local lunch spot.

Your heart will soar in knowing your dollars will go directly to affect the lives of a number of our local youth.

Moreover, you’ll be saying to that teacher “I truly appreciate your service to our community.”

Terry McAteer is a member of The Union Editorial Board. His views are his own and do not represent the views of The Union or its editorial board members. Contact him at editboard@theunion.com.

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