Kamala Harris’ Bold New Plan for Teacher Pay

The average American teacher would earn $13,500 or 23% more per year under an ambitious plan proposed by Senator Kamala Harris (D-California).

EdSource’s Louis Freedberg explains how it work:

...Harris would assign the U.S. Department of Education to work with each state education agency to set a base salary “goal” for beginning teachers in that state. The goal would be to get teacher salaries equal to those earned by “similarly educated professionals.

The plan will be paid for by increasing the estate tax on the top 1 percent of taxpayers and eliminating loopholes that “let the very wealthiest, with estates worth multiple millions or billions of dollars, avoid paying their fair share,” she wrote in an op-ed piece in the Washington Post. It would also provide a 3 to 1 federal match to state contributions to narrowing the wage gap.

This is by far the most progressive proposal on teacher pay from a presidential contender so far. It would represent a massive expansion of federal education spending.

The Democratic presidential candidate announced the proposal during a March campaign event in Houston. It comes with a hefty federal price tag of $315 billion over 10 years.

“The teacher pay gap is a national failure that’s holding America back,” Harris’ campaign said in a press release. “From city schools in major urban centers, to rural schools like those in South Carolina’s ‘Corridor of Shame,’ we’ve failed to give teachers the respect and resources they deserve. It’s time for a bold, national response.”

Harris’ campaign says the average teacher in most states earns less than the living wage for a family of four. Politifact has rated that claim as “mostly true” but points out that teachers may have higher benefits than workers in other sectors and that pay is higher if they choose to work 12 instead of 10 months out of the year.