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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Teachers Can Still Deduct Expenses

August 28, 2004

On Aug. 24, you published a letter implying that teachers can no longer deduct their expenses from their state and federal income taxes. Though it is true that tax credits have been suspended, these credits are not synonymous with deductions. Teachers, like business people, still retain the right to deduct expenses that are necessary to their employment: books, conferences, professional memberships and supplies that are not provided by the school.

Here is my situation: Last year I spent approximately $4,000 on school expenses. With the tax credit and deductions, I got a substantial amount back, about $3,100. Without the tax credits, I will get only about $1,600 back. Certainly that is a big loss, but it's far better than nothing.

Linda Mele Johnson

Long Beach

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This issue is not about teacher pay or even their taxes. When legislators in Sacramento passed the current budget eliminating a tax break for teachers spending their own money on classroom supplies, they eliminated a source of resources spent on students. Any lawmaker who voted to pass this budget effectively voted to reduce spending on students. I am sure that when the lawmakers passed this, they figured that "it's only the teachers," never considering the effect on the students. When it comes to the schools, it's always about the students.

Dwayne Takeda

Fountain Valley

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Re "Accountability Rises, Scores Fall," Commentary, Aug. 22: Bruce Fuller advocates the forced move of teachers to "weak schools rather than allowing teachers to choose their schools based on seniority." What he fails to mention is that choice of a work site by veteran teachers is often influenced by the length of the commute involved. As families grow and parents age, teachers are often faced with personal responsibilities that require more of their time.

The easiest solution is to cut commute time. Forcing people into long and tiring commutes is not a recipe for improving schools.

If districts want to entice strong teachers to transfer to "weak" schools, give them real power to help run those schools. Do not saddle them with weak or must-place administrators. Get rid of time-wasting district mandates. Give teachers a challenge, but eliminate unnecessary frustrations, which when added to a long drive causes burnout.

Glenna Dumey

Santa Monica

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Fuller asks what else can be done regarding falling school scores. Parents, turn off your children's TV sets.

Robert H. Dahl

Los Angeles

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