Original URL: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/1215edpeck15.html#

Teachers recognized: 3 cheers for the best
Arizona Republic
Dec. 15, 2003

Congratulations to the Rodel Extraordinary Teachers announced last week.

These teachers represent the best of the profession.

They work tirelessly and with great skill to ensure that our children, regardless of social or economic background, achieve at the same high standards as mainstream America.

Their passion for success and relentless pursuit of excellence make these teachers true inspirations.

While studying the success of these teachers, we find, without exception, that they work with students beyond the regular school day.

In high-poverty areas, many students have a home language other than English, move frequently and have many unmet needs.

In these areas, extending the school day for homework assistance, tutoring and other activities is a practical necessity to improve student achievement significantly.

Care to help teachers in these high-poverty schools extend programs?

Our state allows individuals to contribute funds to a local school and qualify for a full tax refund.

Arizona Extracurricular Tax Credit allows donations to qualified extracurricular programs, giving taxpayers a 100 percent credit up to $200 ($250 if filing jointly).

Controversy about the tax-credit law remains, but no one can argue that schools in wealthier areas are getting the lion's share of benefits.

Those with enough wealth to write the check, and wait to be refunded after tax season, contribute mostly to schools in their own neighborhoods: places where wealth is concentrated.

This tax season, consider making a donation to schools in high-poverty areas.

Your dollars can support individualized tutoring, homework clubs or fine-arts enrichment for kids who may not otherwise receive such services. These are schools most in need but least likely to receive individual donations to provide such programs.

Regardless to which school you choose to donate, you can help ensure that more students have access to these funds.

Donate to your local school's tax-credit fund, or e-mail us at Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona, and we can direct you to effective high-poverty schools that will make excellent use of your tax-credit dollars. It's a way the everyday taxpayer can give a little to help a lot!

Remember Dec. 31 is the deadline for the 2003 tax credit.

I tip my hat to our Rodel Extraordinary Teachers and to those of you helping public schools continue to build effective programs for our kids.

Carol Peck is president and chief executive officer of Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona. She is former superintendent of the Alhambra Elementary School District. E-mail questions and ideas for future coverage of outstanding programs to her at rodel@rodelfoundations.org.