Is SALT Really a Priority for Schools Right Now?
With families enduring yet another chaotic school year of mask mandates, vaccination mandates, school closures, and shortages of substitute teachers and bus drivers, you would think that the teachers unions would be up to their eyeballs trying to figure out how to get things back on track. Nevertheless, the president of the American Federation of Teachers found the time to join a protest on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. And what was the protest for? Why, to bring back the deductibility of state and local taxes on federal tax forms, of course.
The reason that the president of a teachers union is joining forces with the bipartisan SALT caucus is that taxpayers are more willing to raise state tax rates if they can at least deduct what they pay to the state from their federal taxes. If they can’t deduct state taxes, then they prefer to keep them at a minimum, thank you very much. Same goes for local property taxes. And why does the teachers union want higher state and local taxes? So that more resources can be directed at teacher pay and teacher pensions. The education establishment is taking time to throw support at having everyone pay more out of their pockets to support and grow the education establishment.
Teacher pay, teacher recruitment, and teacher retention are also on the list of legislative priorities for the Missouri State Board of Education. The board would like to see legislatively mandated minimum starting salaries of $35,000 for teachers by 2024. In addition, $50 million in federal stimulus funds have been directed at recruitment and retention.
It’s true that having a high-quality teacher in every classroom is one of the few things that can have a positive impact on academic achievement. But do we get there by protesting for higher state taxes for everyone? Do we get there by paying every teacher more, regardless of their effectiveness? Do we get there by perpetuating a costly and outdated system of retirement that often pays teachers for more years of retirement than working years?
Stuck In the middle of all this are the 65 percent of Missouri students who were not at grade level on the state math assessment last year. Also in the middle are students with disabilities who did not receive any services when their schools shut down, along with the parents who desperately want tutoring for children who have fallen behind these last two years. It’s a sad state of affairs when public education starts to look like a battle between those who support teachers and those who support families.