Presidential hopeful Kamala Harris has just detailed her first major policy plan for her campaign, announcing her plan to raise average teacher pay $13,000, with a special focus on addressing educational inequality within the Black community.
The plan, which Harris’ campaign has dubbed the “largest federal investment in teacher pay in American history,” intends to have the Department of Education work with state education agencies to set a base salary goal for all beginning teachers across the state. States and school districts will be bound to increase every teacher’s pay until salaries about $13,500 – essentially a 23 percent increase in base pay for the average teacher.
Harris has pointed out that public school teachers make 11 percent less than similar professionals with college degrees and has her eyes set on closing “the teacher pay gap” within her first term as president.
However, even as she launches her plan, the 2020 candidate pointed out the racial disparities that has fueled her push. The press release details how Black teachers earn about $2,700 less per year on average than their white counterparts, even when accounting for education and experience.
This also ends up impacting students of color, where there is a 70 percent high turnover for teachers serving predominantly minority schools.
Lower pay is also one of the reasons that teachers of color are not properly represented, even though they have been shown to boost math and reading achievement, graduation rates and college aspirations for the students that look like them, the campaign noted.
As such, the plan also includes further federal government investment in America’s highest-need schools to increase teacher’s pay even more.
The federal government will also be tasked with making a multibillion-dollar investment to support programs dedicated to recruitment, training and professional development of teachers, particularly at HBCUs. Programs cited in the press release include “early-career induction programs that pair new teachers with mentors and master teachers, career ladder models that allow for advancement opportunities for teacher leaders, and ‘Grow Your Own’ programs that help increase teacher diversity.”
Half of that multibillion-dollar investment will go towards high-quality programs at HBCUs and other institutions that serve minorities.
Harris’ plan includes incentives to push states to take closing the teacher pay gap more seriously. The federal government will give the first 10 percent of the funding needed to close the gap. From that point forward, for every $1 a state contributes to increasing teacher pay, the federal government will add on an extra $3 until the gap is closed.
The plan is expected to cost some $315 million over the next 10 years, but Harris plans to pay for it by strengthening 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.”
Ever since Harris announced her intentions over the weekend, she has been tweeting about the importance of this policy plan, calling the teachers’ pay gap a “national failure.”
In America, public school teachers are paid about $13,000 a year less than other college graduates. That could be mortgage payments or the cost of groceries for a family for a year. It’s a national failure. It’s time we give America’s teachers a raise. https://t.co/k5rSd1LM6c
“It isn’t enough to just say our teachers shape the future of our country, we should pay them like it. It’s past time we value and respect their work, compassion, and dedication to our kids,” Harris wrote in another tweet.