On Saturday January 26, 30,000 public school teachers and supporters in Lisbon, Portugal protested against national austerity budget cuts to public education and the growing privatization of their public schools.
Reuters editors Miguel Pereira and Axel Bugge reported:
'Teachers union 'Fenprof' estimated 30,000 teachers marched through Lisbon city center, demanding the resignation of the Education Minister and protesting against pay cuts and what they called a deterioration in working conditions.
'"I am here to protect the public school, and, above all, I am here to defend the future of our country and the future of my children who are still growing," teacher Anabela Mendes told Reuters.
'The protest was the biggest so far this year. Relative patience with the terms of Portugal's 78 billion euro ($105 billion) bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund ran out in the middle of last year and protests and strikes have become more common.
'The largest tax hikes in living memory will start to be felt when workers receive their first pay checks of 2013 at the end of January.'
If this does not sound familiar to teachers in DC Public Schools (DCPS), it will. These problems are not a world away.
DC teachers will feel the effects of US austerity measures by the end of January.
DCPS teachers, who typically earn substantial refunds on their city and federal taxes will have a few unpleasant surprises this year.
Some have already noted that their late W2 tax forms from 2012 have not even arrived in the mail. That is because of new federal filing laws for 2013, which include a later filing date, delaying refunds potentially by 2 months.
The earliest date to file a 2012 tax return electronically was moved back to Jan. 22, 2013. Furthermore, estimated IRS processing time has increased to up to 21 days. For teachers who typically pay off their December holiday bills in January, these will be most unwelcome developments.
Also shocking is the elimination of teachers' humble and grossly underestimated $250 annual deduction for education expenses. Teachers have lost their $250 maximum deduction on expenses related to buying school supplies.
This credit expired at the end of 2011, and teachers won't be able to claim this benefit on their 2012 taxes unless Congress takes action.
In 2009, more than 3.8 million teachers claimed this benefit for a combined deduction of $9.7 billion, according to H&R Block.
Teacher paychecks also became smaller starting Jan. 1, 2013. Because of the Payroll Tax Credit, a teacher making $50,000, for example, will lose $80 in monthly pay after the credit ends.
Budget cuts and school privatization have also recently become dramatic flashpoints in Washington, DC.
Earlier this week, Examiner reported about an impending lawsuit againt the Chancellor's new school closure plan, her confrontational meeting with an angry City Council, and how the deteriorating conditions of DCPS have gone global.