Education Week - November 15, 2017 - 20
Tax Proposals Taking Aim
At Cherished Deductions
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 19
A One-Year Scorecard for Trump
On K-12 Campaign-Trail Promises
By Alyson Klein
President Donald Trump was elected promising a huge new school choice initiative, a slimmed
down-or nonexistent-U.S. Department of Education, the end of the Common Core State
Standards, new tax incentives to cover child-care costs, and more. Here's a look at how things have
turned out on several key campaign pledges a year after Trump's upset presidential victory:
Vouchers and School Choice
Association, a "disaster." He said he'd get rid of them.
The campaign promise: In his one and only campaign
speech on K-12, Trump pledged to create a brandnew, $20 billion public and private school initiative,
offering vouchers of up to $12,000 per student. Trump
did not say where the money would come from.
The reality: Common core is still alive and well
and on the books in 35 states and the District of
Columbia. Some states have officially ditched the
common core but kept in place standards that are
It's worth noting that Trump couldn't have kept
his promise to kill the common core even if he'd
wanted to: the Every Student Succeeds Act, which
passed before Trump was elected, specifically bars
the federal government from telling states which
content standards they can or can't use.
The reality: Trump picked Betsy DeVos, a
lifelong school choice advocate, as his education
secretary, but that doesn't mean the issue has
much momentum. Trump never did provide
details on that $20 billion school choice proposal.
And Congress has so far rebuffed both the
administration's request for a $250 million
voucher program and its pitch for a $1 billion
public school choice program. Plus, the GOP
tax-overhaul bill recently introduced in Congress
doesn't include the new tax-credit scholarship
DeVos was said to be seeking behind the scenes.
The tax bill would, however, allow families to
save up to $10,000 a year for private K-12 tuition
through 529 plans, which currently are a collegesavings vehicle under the tax code. And spending
bills pending in both the House and Senate would
boost funding on charter schools by at least
$25 million. That's not as much as the $167 million
the Trump administration asked for in its budget
request, but it's something.
Fate of the Education Department
The campaign promise: Trump pledged to get rid of
the Education Department or cut it "way, way down."
The reality: Trump hasn't nixed the department. In fact,
he named an education secretary, a deputy secretary,
and has moved to fill other key positions. At the same
time, though, he sought to cut $9 billion from the
department's nearly $70 billion budget, a 13 percent
decrease. It's unclear if Congress will be willing to go
along with a cut of that magnitude. And DeVos recently
announced plans to get rid of more than 100 rules and
guidance documents that the Trump administration
says are "outdated" or duplicative. There are also
numerous unfilled political appointments.
Ending the Common Core State Standards
The campaign promise: Trump called the commoncore standards, which were developed through a
partnership between the Council of Chief State
School Officers and the National Governors
20 | EDUCATION WEEK | November 15, 2017 | www.edweek.org
Increase Tax Credits for Child Care
The campaign promise: Trump said he wanted to
offer working women-but not men-six weeks
of guaranteed maternity leave. He also wanted
to let lower-income families put money from the
Earned Income Tax Credit into accounts for "childenrichment activities," including private school
tuition. And he wanted to let some families deduct
child-care costs from their taxes and set up new
dependent-care savings accounts.
The reality: None of these ideas made it into
the GOP tax-overhaul bill in the U.S. House of
Representatives. (That could change during the
legislative process.) The House bill would hike the
child tax credit to $1,600, from $1,000, while the
Senate bill would increase it to $1,650. And the
House bill would create a $300 dependent-care
tax credit. But the House bill would also scrap
accounts that parents can use to put up to $5,000
away for annual child-care expenses, pre-tax.
End DACA Protections for "Dreamers"
The campaign promise: Trump said he would end
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obamaera program that gives protection to an estimated
800,000 immigrants who came to the United States
illegally as children, known as "dreamers."
The reality: In September, Trump acted on this
pledge, announcing a "wind down" of DACA.
Congress has until March 5 to pass new legislation
to allow hundreds of thousands of dreamers to
remain in the country. Lawmakers have tried and
failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform
for more than a decade.
nation's public school system," said
Noelle Ellerson Ng, the associate executive director of AASA, the School
The House and Senate bills would
also end the $250 tax deduction
teachers, principals, and other educators can take for personal money they
spend on classroom supplies. The deduction is structured so that teachers
and others don't need to itemize their
tax returns in order to claim it.
Lawmakers created the deduction for educators in the tax code in
2002. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine,
pushed to introduce it into the tax
code, and she could be a key vote on
any Senate effort to overhaul taxes.
Teacher Deduction in Jeopardy
For the 2015 tax year, there were
more than 3.7 million tax returns
in which taxpayers claimed the
classroom-expenses deduction, according to information from the
Internal Revenue Service. (That
figure doesn't equal the number
of educators who actually claimed
the deduction.) The total amount of
money subsequently deducted from
taxable income was $950 million,
the IRS said.
The repeal of the $250 deduction represents a relatively small
change to the tax code. But it is
used widely by teachers and others,
and in theory, the end of the deduction could affect which tax bracket
some teachers find themselves in.
During a Ways and Means Committee hearing last week, Rep.
Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., touted the
broader economic benefits of the tax
bill, saying, "This helps teachers."
Based on information from Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation,
a teacher earning $55,100, the average salary for teachers nationwide,
would see a tax cut of $660 in 2019
and $275 in 2027. (Both numbers
are in comparison to 2017.)
However, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.,
singled out the end of the $250 deduction for teachers during the same
hearing, asking, "How can we punish
teachers who are just trying to buy
supplies for their classrooms?"
Expansion for Choice
Although U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has failed so far
to get traction for her school choice
expansion proposals in Congress,
lawmakers did make one change
that could make it easier for some
to go to private schools.
The tax bill would allow 529 college-savings plans to also be used
for K-12 expenses of up to $10,000
annually, including for private school
tuition. Contributions to these plans
are tax-deductible. The legislation
would simultaneously end Coverdell
accounts, in which tax-deferred savings can be used for up to $2,000 annually for K-12 expenses.
DeVos hailed the move as a good
step forward for school choice. The
idea has long been a top K-12 pri-
ority for the conservative Heritage
Foundation, where the director of
the Center for Education Policy,
Lindsey Burke, said the growing
amount of savings in 529 accounts
represents an increasing awareness
of the accounts in general. That
means, she said, they could represent significant growth for private
school choice. On Heritage's website, Burke wrote that in general,
the bill's change to 529 accounts
"would enable families to save for
K-12 education-related expenses
while increasing their ability to pay
for education options outside the
public school system."
But other organizations supporting school choice, including EdChoice and the American Federation for Children, said that while
they supported the change to 529
plans, it wouldn't be helpful in
general to lower-income families.
(DeVos used to lead the American
Federation for Children.)
A 2016 survey by Edward Jones,
an investment firm, found that 72
percent of Americans had not heard
of 529 college-savings plans. And a
2014 survey conducted for the Col-
It shows how much
of this ... is about
making the numbers
add up and not
making it work
for the people they
NOELLE ELLERSON NG
AASA, the School Superintendents
lege Savings Foundation reported
that about 63 percent of those using
529 plans had annual household incomes of $100,000 or more.
"Generally, I'm working with
high-net-worth individuals" who
use 529s, said Bob Williams, the
senior vice president and managing
director of the Simmons First Investment Group in Little Rock, Ark.
Charter school advocates have
their own beef with the House bill,
since it would end a charter's ability to pay for a new school building
with proceeds from bonds that are
tax-exempt. Charters' ability to refinance outstanding debt with those
same tax-exempt bonds would also
end under the legislation.
"Borrowing on a tax-exempt basis
saves charter schools millions of
dollars every year-dollars that
can remain in the classroom," Nina
Rees, the president and CEO of the
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, wrote in a letter to lawmakers last week after the bill was
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - November 15, 2017
Education Week - November 15, 2017
E-Schools Adapting to Transgender Students’ Needs
In Florida, Laissez-Faire Approach to Monitoring Private School Vouchers
New Survey Details Effect of Inclusion on Teaching Time
Are States Changing Course On Teacher Evaluation?
News in Brief
Teaching Parents the Right ‘Questions to Ask’ in Schools
Rising Food Allergies A Challenge for Schools
GreatSchools Expands Its Ratings on Schools
Study: Do Parents Need a Reason To Go School Shopping?
SNAPSHOT: Single-Gender Education
New Mexico Offers Teachers A Seat at Policymaking Table
Repercussions for K-12 From Democratic Election Gains
GOP Tax Plans Could Affect K-12 Aid, Teachers’ Pocketbooks
A One-Year Scorecard for Trump On K-12 Campaign-Trail Promises
A Primer on the Teacher Tax Break
Emily Phillips Galloway, Paola Uccelli & Christina Dobbs: The Power of Precise Language
Adam Urbanski, Tom Alves & Ellen Bernstein: Without Teacher Input, Ed. Reform Is Doomed to Fail
William Sterrett: Time Is a Principal’s Most Limited Resource
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Elaine Weiss & Christopher T. Cross: Education’s Golden Rule
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - Are States Changing Course On Teacher Evaluation?
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - Cover2
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - 3
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - Report Roundup
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - 5
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - Teaching Parents the Right ‘Questions to Ask’ in Schools
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - Rising Food Allergies A Challenge for Schools
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - GreatSchools Expands Its Ratings on Schools
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - Study: Do Parents Need a Reason To Go School Shopping?
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - SNAPSHOT: Single-Gender Education
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - 11
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - 12
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - 13
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - 14
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - 15
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - 16
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - New Mexico Offers Teachers A Seat at Policymaking Table
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - 18
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - GOP Tax Plans Could Affect K-12 Aid, Teachers’ Pocketbooks
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - A One-Year Scorecard for Trump On K-12 Campaign-Trail Promises
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - A Primer on the Teacher Tax Break
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - Adam Urbanski, Tom Alves & Ellen Bernstein: Without Teacher Input, Ed. Reform Is Doomed to Fail
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - William Sterrett: Time Is a Principal’s Most Limited Resource
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - Readers React
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - 25
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - Cover3
Education Week - November 15, 2017 - Elaine Weiss & Christopher T. Cross: Education’s Golden Rule