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Tax breaks for California teachers?

 (Peter Bennett / For The Times)
(Peter Bennett / For The Times)

A bill to combat the shortage of teachers by giving them tax breaks has begun to make its way through the California Legislature.

If passed, Senate Bill 807, or the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act of 2017, would help teachers two ways.

First, it would give new teachers tax credits for the money they spent to earn full teaching credentials. The credits would cover such costs as college tuition and certification tests. These expenses could be entirely recouped entirely over five years. 

Second, it would exempt teachers who remain in the profession more than five years from paying state taxes on income earned from teaching. The effect would be equivalent to a 4% to 6% salary increase, according to backers. 

“Teachers are the original job creators," said bill co-sponsor Sen. Henry Stern (D-Agoura Hills), in a release. "The teaching profession is critical to California’s economic success and impacts every vocation and profession in the state."

The other sponsor is Sen. Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton).

The bill is expected to enter committee review by the end of the month.

“It’s time California leads the nation and sends a clear message to all current and future teachers: You are valued and California will reward your commitment to California’s kids and future,” said Bill Lucia, president of the Sacramento-based lobbying and research organization EdVoice, which is pushing hard for passage.

Researchers say that one-third of all California teachers are older than 50. And turnover among young teachers remains high. In addition, fewer are entering the profession, according to data from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. In the 2014-15 school year, enrollments in teacher preparation programs dropped to 20,881 — down 40% from 2010-11 and 73% from 2001-02.

Schools with large numbers of low-income minority students are disproportionately affected by turnover. 

Already, more than 155,000 students in California are taught by "non-permanent" instructors.

A spokesman for the California Teacher  Assn. said the union has yet to take a position on the bill but is in full agreement on the seriousness of the problem.

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