Friday, December 30, 2011

Endowments for Public Schools

Earlier today, I saw something on my Facebook page which asked the question as to what type of human being thinks there is nothing wrong in asking a teacher to take a 20% pay cut, but cannot fathom asking a millionaire to pay an addition 3% in taxes.

There was a lot of discussion about it, as you can imagine. And, I, of course, added my two cents. Then, I thought, perhaps, my two cents was actually worth sharing with the blogosphere.

If we want to fight the conservatives in the area of education funding, PART of the answer is endowments for teacher's salaries and pensions. Here is an idea in a few steps:

1) You make conservatives happy by "investing" in something that pays interest or a dividend. If you have a 5% return, you need $1,000,000 for a $50k salary. If you want the teacher to have a bigger salary, you add to the endowment.

You can use this same fund for the teacher's retirement pension, allowing the surviving spouse/partner to receive the pension upon death of the retired teacher. BUT you need a stipulation that the funds will be used to pay a NEW teacher when both teacher and spouse/partner have gone on their great reward in the sky. Thus, you fund BOTH salary and pension at the same time.

Wall Street would practically slobber all over itself trying to make this work. Yes, you WILL have to have stipulations as to what happens in economic downturns, so that teachers salaries are not all wiped out because some stockbroker(s) or bank(s) does(do) something stupid and tanks the economy.

2) Next, you give donors to the endowment a tax deduction. (See conservatives act like sex-starved teenage boys.) Make it a charitable deduction. Currently, if a millionaire makes a donation to endow a professor's chair at a university, the millionaire gets a tax deduction. Why shouldn't anyone who gives to endow a public school teacher's salary and benefits get the same?

3) As each teacher's salary/benefits is endowed, you place the tax savings into another teacher's account. This is so all the teacher's salaries get endowed faster. There will ALWAYS be people who can get donations faster than someone else. Just like there are people who can jump higher or type faster than others. When Teacher X has all they need in their account, and they can get 100% of their salary and benefits from their endowment, the TAX money that would have gone to Teacher X can now go to Teacher Y. It helps meet the entire goal faster.

4) When it is all COMPLETE, you lower or eliminate PROPERTY taxes, and, after that, SALES taxes. Why not do this as each teacher is funded? Because the wealthy areas will be funded faster and the poorer areas not at all. Sooooooooo, if the wealthy want to be done with property and sales taxes, we need to make sure they also donate to the poorer districts. By the way, this will not work if we wait for the wealthy to fund the whole thing. All of us will have to make contributions here and there to teacher's endowments.

Donations would have to be given with no strings as to what can be taught, but can be given to specific subjects. For example, you could donate to fund a math teacher, science teacher, PE teacher...whatever you, the donor believes is important. You could NOT, for example, put a stipulation on the donation that a science teacher could not teach evolution, or a math teacher multiplication.

This will take generations to finish, but in the end, you have a fully funded public school system that includes pensions and does not depend on taxes.

Well, that's my basic idea. I am sure there are people out there that will tear my idea apart and list all the reasons why "liberals" like me can't possibly know what we are talking about.

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