Wednesday, May 20, 2015


If you haven't watched "The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss (we watched the Universal 2012 version), you should.  Watch it alone, with a friend, or if you have family (children---no matter what age) everyone should watch it together. 
Quite coincidentally, a seed is a major element of this story.  And, S.E.E.D.S. is all about planting ideas and practices for improving education (especially preschool education).  It is all about freedom of choice for parents, teachers, and students.  We believe in alternatives to the status quo of both public and private education. Our most immediate focus is preschool children.  Brain development is largely done by age three.  This tends to set the tone of a person's learning for the rest of their life.

The family is the basic teaching unit for preschool children.  The current trend is all for pushing academics into preschool levels.  The fact that the current academic programs are dismal failures seems to be irrelevant.  Ten years ago, goals were set in Los Angeles for all students to graduate and be eligible to enter a California university.  Recent reports in Los Angeles (the largest school district in the US) point out that more than half of 10th graders are not on track to graduate. Further reports mentioned no clear plan was put in place 10 years ago.  And in the face of the present crisis, there is a rush to find a plan to implement.  Few seem to question the feasibility and practicality of ALL students graduating and going on to university.  The reality is the majority of college graduates have trouble finding jobs in the field of their majors.  They are either unemployed or underemployed relative to their education.

Our vision for S.E.E.D.S. is to empower parents and teachers to set preschoolers (and anyone interested in learning) on a path to being their own best teachers and life long learners.  The focus is keeping curiosity alive to nurture and foster critical thinking, problem solving, decision making, and being good ethical people.  And as Dr. Seuss says "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not."

Show that you care by subscribing to our blog and sharing it with others.  Visit our Facebook page  Show your support by "liking" the page and getting your friends to do so as well. We care "a whole lot."  That's why we created S.E.E.D.S.  Please join us in our vision and effort to make learning a fun filled life long experience.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Preschool Teachers Cut Off from Tax Incentives

The annual tax season rush is over. As the dust settles, we want to make more people aware of the disadvantage preschool teacher’s face regarding income tax. For K-12 teachers, there are a number of tax incentives related to spending money to enhance learning in their classrooms. Why these same incentives don’t apply to preschool teachers seems to defy logic. Preschool teachers are low on the education ladder. Many people see them as mere babysitters. Yet the work they do is basic brain development. They are grossly underpaid for this essential, critical and valuable work. Many teachers pay out of pocket for items used in their classrooms. Often these items are not part of the school budget. School budgets are being cut everywhere.

It is significant many teachers call their students “my children” or “my kids.” On a daily or weekly basis, preschool children have more interactive contact with their teachers than their parents. Good preschool teachers who nurture, foster, protect and enrich playfulness and curiosity are worth their weight in gold. Dedicated teachers face growing classroom expenses. They will be confronted the hard decision: spend money for their classroom at the expense of their own families.Which would you choose?

Time and time again, dedicated preschool teachers spend their own money to enhance their classrooms. This attests to the professionalism and dedication of preschool teachers. The IRS recognizes the value of teachers spending their own money to enhance their classrooms. Teachers can deduct some these expenses on their income tax. To qualify for the federal tax deduction teachers must work over 900 hours a year in a primary or high school.  But preschool teachers are excluded.

[Note: We are not tax experts. Please consult with your tax preparation specialist.]

The status quo begs the questions:
1Why are preschool teachers excluded from the IRS Educator Expense Deduction?  [Note: Qualified teachers can deduct up to $250 of expenses that they do not have to itemize.]

2. Can preschool teachers take an itemized deduction for these expenses? Without The Educator Expense Deduction, preschool teachers can claim unreimbursed employee expenses by itemizing these deductions on Schedule A.  However this is subject to the 2% rule. This means they can only deduct expenses which are in excess of 2% of their adjusted gross income (AGI). For example, if a preschool teacher’s AGI was $24,330, they can only deduct out of pocket classroom expenses which are above $486.60. If a teacher spent $750 out of pocket, they can only deduct $263.40 or 34.7% of their actual expenses. How many of you would spend this kind of money on your job? And remember, the teachers are spending this money on YOUR children.

S.E.E.D.S. cannot solve the school budget problem, nor can we change IRS tax policies. But there are grassroots actions that can be done to help preschool teachers. The children’s parents have the most direct contact with the teachers. Some parents remember the preschool teachers with prepaid gift cards (for school supply vendors) which puts money in the teacher’s pocket. It’s the teacher’s choice to spend the money for their classroom or not.

There are other direct actions to supplement classroom spending. The following suggestions comes from spirit of the S.E.E.D.S. slogan “It is better to network than to not work.”  [Note: Money has an insidious way of being diverted and misused. At the very least, even the appearance of inappropriate or suspicious acts creates problems. This can best be avoided by the parents of donors buying the classroom items the teacher needs.]

1. Business Owners & Parents: Get a list of needed items from the teacher. Buy and donate these items to the teacher. We are talking about crayons, markers, construction paper, glue, etc.

2. Collect left over supplies to give to teachers: When times are tough, the choice between new crayons and markers and left overs is moot. In some cases, using left over crayons may be better that not having any crayons at all. The reality in most classrooms is that brand new crayons turn into well-used ones very quickly anyway.

3. Parents Organize to Support a Teacher: Parents can organize fund raisers: bake sales, garage sales, or other seek out national chain restaurants who pay a % of patron receipts to your cause. The money can be used to buy things on the teacher’s list of needs. This approach minimizes misunderstandings about how the money was used.

4. Approach Local Civic Groups: Some parents may be members of a local civic group (Chamber of Commerce, Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary International, etc.). Even if they are not members, parents can approach these groups with a request to help support local preschool teachers out of pocket expenses for their classrooms.

Someone once said “Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate.” Consider the great example you can set for your children by giving your leftover crayons, markers, and other common school supplies to the preschool teacher of your children. Ponder the valuable lesson you instill in them with grassroots community action. People working together to overcome difficulties is a fundamental act of humanity. Do small and simple things daily to help your children become good decent human beings.

If you have other suggestions or experiences to share, please make a comment on this blog. Remember, it is better to network than to not work. We all seem to know the problems exist. We now need to pull together to try to find effective solutions.