Friday, March 09, 2007

Tax Credits and Math and Science Teachers

There's always talk about recruiting more such teachers, and here's what Governor Schwarzenegger wants:

The governor says the state could save $165 million a year by eliminating the state's teacher tax credit, which is supposed to provide an incentive for experienced educators to stay on the job while reimbursing them for some of the money they spend out-of-pocket on classroom supplies.

The credit starts at $250 for teachers with four years' experience and goes to a maximum of $1,500 for those with 20 years' experience...

The governor's argument comes at a time when many education advocates say more needs to be done to recruit and retain talented educators.

Sen. Jack Scott and former astronaut Sally Ride held a press conference at the state Capitol on Wednesday to highlight the need for more skilled math and science teachers. And according to the California Federation of Teachers, only about half of new teachers stay in the job for more than five years.


Unfortunately, that 50% figure has been debunked so many times that the CFT loses credibility by quoting it.

But let's talk about this teacher credit. While I don't mind the opportunity to keep more of my own money in my own pocket, I'm sympathetic to these points:

In a recent analysis, the Legislature's nonpartisan budget adviser said the tax credit has cost the state about $500 million since it began in 2000, with little clear data showing an effect on teacher retention.

For one thing, the tax credit has been in effect for only three of the past seven years. During the other years, it was suspended to help close multibillion-dollar budget gaps during the state's fiscal crisis.

The legislative analyst reviewed the data and found that about 200,000 teachers took advantage of the credit in the years it was available. Almost 90 percent of those who claimed the credit had incomes over $50,000. There were not fewer teachers quitting or retiring in years when the credit was available...

"There is no question that teaching is a noble and valued profession, but should teachers receive a tax credit whereas other valued workers in our society do not?"


So we have this lengthy story about math and science teachers, and all I can find in it is this debate over the teacher tax credit. Oh, here are two sentences:

Sen. Jack Scott and former astronaut Sally Ride held a press conference at the state Capitol on Wednesday to highlight the need for more skilled math and science teachers.

A package of bills Scott announced Wednesday would offer small subsidies to help science and math professionals make the transition to the classroom and help teachers prepare to obtain science and math teaching credentials.


I believe the article in the major Sacramento paper was misnamed.

2 comments:

40 said...

So it sounds like you are against the teacher credit. But, I don't understand why.

You say: "Unfortunately, that 50% figure has been debunked so many times that the CFT loses credibility by quoting it." What is the actual statistic? Just curious.

I have always heard something similar in my travels. And it seems pretty correct in Texas, anyway.

Darren said...

Personally, I love the tax credit. However, I understand that it's merely a bone thrown to me that others don't get. I understand the inherent unfairness of it. It ranks up there with affirmative action.

As for the 50% figure, it includes people who take jobs in other states, who leave for maternity, who accept other jobs within the profession (like administration), etc. Since there's really currently no way to track the people, there's no way to know what "the actual statistic" is.