Senator Kamala Harris is proposing giving the average teacher in America a $13,500 pay raise in a new policy plan to eliminate the teacher pay gap in her first term as president. This plan would make the largest federal investment in teacher pay in the country’s history.
“Our country’s success is a product of the two groups who raise our children: parents and teachers. We are not paying our teachers their value,” Harris said. “Teachers should not have to work two or three jobs to pay the bills. This proposal will lift up teachers and families across America, give every American teacher a raise, and make a much-needed investment in our country’s future.”
The plan aims to close the 11 percent pay gap between teachers and comparable professionals in America. In total, the plan would provide the average teacher a $13,500 raise. Here’s how it would work:
•An immediate federal investment will provide 10 percent of the funding needed to close the teacher pay gap. Then, the plan incentivizes states to help close the full gap. For every $1 a state invests in raising teacher pay, the federal government will provide $3 to fully close the gap within four years.
•The Department of Education will work with state education agencies to set a base salary goal for beginning teachers in every state. For more advanced teachers, the goal will increase based on years in the classroom to keep up with higher wages earned by similarly experienced professionals. States and school districts will increase every teacher’s salary until, at a minimum, they meet the goal.
•Since tackling decades of inequality requires even further work, the plan also includes additional targeted federal investment beyond just closing the gap to pay teachers in America’s highest-need schools even more than other comparable professionals in their state.
•The Department of Education would make a multi-billion dollar investment in programs that elevate the teaching profession and support principals and other school leaders, half of which will be dedicated to high-quality programs at HBCUs and other Minority Serving Institutions.
The plan costs approximately $315 billion over ten years, and it will be paid for by strengthening the estate tax and cracking down on loopholes that let the very wealthiest, with estates worth multiple millions or billions of dollars, avoid paying their fair share.
The announcement of this plan was immediately met with praise by educators and experts. “Incredible,” tweeted Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers (AFT). “Harris is putting attracting & retaining teachers front and center. This would make a huge difference in the lives of educators, our students and our communities.”
“Harris is proposing a real solution to a national problem,” Weingarten added. “This should be central to the 2020 conversation,” said Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the 3 million-member National Education Association. “We applaud Kamala Harris for focusing on attracting & keeping great educators in neighborhood schools!” “Pay the professionals we entrust to teach, nurture and mentor our children a better salary!” added former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
“The money is one thing, but the message this policy sends brings back respect to the profession. The idea that somebody is paying attention and trying with something concrete, is incredible,” Mike Beranek, President of the Iowa Student Education Association, said.
“This is what we’ve been waiting for a 2020 candidate to say,” tweeted Sara Schmitt, an Oregon teacher and president of the Beaverton Education Association. “Good for Kamala Harris,” tweeted David Stein, a Maryland high school teacher. “It’s not enough to say how much you love and value teachers. Pay them!” Josh Jablonski, a Nebraska teacher, also tweeted, “Using federal money to raise teacher pay is a great idea. It’s something that should’ve happened long ago.”
“Higher salaries is a critical strategy to modernize and elevate the teaching profession. Thank you for elevating this issue Kamala Harris!” tweeted Catherine Brown, an education policy expert who is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.