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Letter to Senator Collins and Warner supporting legislation that would increase, expand, and make permanent the tax deduction for educators' out-of-pocket classroom supply expenses

January 24, 2007

Dear Senators Collins and Warner:

On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we would like to express our strong support for your legislation that would increase, expand, and make permanent the tax deduction for educators' out-of-pocket classroom supply expenses.   We thank you for your continued leadership and advocacy on this important issue. 

As you know, the educator tax deduction helps recognize the financial sacrifices made by teachers and paraprofessionals, who often reach into their own pockets to purchase classroom supplies such as books, pencils, paper, and art supplies.  Studies show that teachers are spending more of their own funds each year to supply their classrooms, including purchasing essential items such as pencils, glue, scissors, and facial tissues.  For example, NEA's 2003 report Status of the American Public School Teacher, 2000-2001 found that teachers spent an average of $443 a year on classroom supplies.  More recently, the National School Supply and Equipment Association found that in 2005-2006, educators spent out of their own pockets an average of $826.00 for supplies and an additional $926 for instructional materials, for a total of $1,752.

By increasing the current deduction and making it permanent, your legislation will make a real difference for many educators, who often must sacrifice other personal needs in order to pay for classroom supplies. 

NEA also strongly supports your proposal to extend the tax deduction to cover out-of-pocket professional development expenses.  Teacher quality is the single most critical factor in maximizing student achievement.  Ongoing professional development is essential to ensure that educators stay up-to-date on the skills and knowledge necessary to prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century.  Your bill will make a critical difference in helping educators access quality training.

We thank you again for your work on this important legislation and look forward to continuing to work with you to support our nation's educators.

Sincerely,

Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Policy and Politics