Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg wants to raise teacher pay, stressing that educators need to be paid “like doctors” and honored “like soldiers.”
“We need to honor teachers like soldiers, and pay them like doctors,” states the plan from Buttigieg, a former Naval officer. “That’s why, as President, I will raise salaries for educators in early education and K-12. I will create more and better ways to recruit, train, and retain diverse talent for our schools. I will increase professional development opportunities for our education workforce and make sure schools have the resources they need to be exceptional places to teach and learn.”
Details of Buttigieg’s proposal
Buttigieg’s proposal would:
eliminate the wage gap for Title I teachers.
Teachers currently earn an average of $30,666 a year, according to PayScale. Under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Title I provides funding to the states and districts that want to improve education for children from low-income families.
support strong unions for educators and staff.
establish the Education Access Corps to prepare and retain future educators and provide high-quality teacher preparation programs which would serve as teaching academies.
reduce the number of years of service required for teachers to be eligible for loan forgiveness: Three years of teaching would result in their loans forgiven by 25%, and fully forgiven after 7 years.
Noting failures in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) This summer, the second-largest teachers union in the U.S., filed a lawsuit that calls on the U.S. government to fix it.
increase the diversity of school support staff by creating the “School Leadership Lab.”
push for more special education teachers, particularly in rural areas.
encourage more national service alumni to consider education as a career.
‘Nuanced’ understanding of education’s needs
One expert described Buttigieg’s plan as “deep and nuanced,” while another said the details were “exciting to see.”
“Perhaps because Mayor Pete is married to a school teacher, his plan reflects a deep and nuanced understanding of the lived experience of our country’s public-school students, parents, and educators,” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, told Yahoo Finance. “It makes clear educators need a voice at work, emphasizing the need for unions and bargaining rights to ensure teaching jobs are good jobs, and schools are safe and welcoming workplaces.”
She added: “Pete’s plan reflects the role of public education as central and foundational to our democracy, and aspires to make it a reality.”
Scott Sargrad, vice president of K-12 Education Policy at the Center for American Progress, told Yahoo Finance: “The idea of really investing in teachers and talking about things like increasing teacher pay and and providing support to increase the diversity of the teaching workforce is also really exciting to see”
While Buttigieg’s plan is similar in some ways to that of other candidates like Senators Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA), one noteworthy part of his plan is that it doesn’t directly criticize Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (instead proposing to reverse some of her policies).
And looking at all the candidates’ proposals for early education, “it's hard to say there's one that's it really stands out,” added Sargrad, who previously worked for U.S. Department of Education. “But they're addressing some really important issues.”
‘Teachers are asked to address these challenges’
If anyone ever doubts the level of frustrations of American teacher’s they need to look no further than the thousands of educators who have taken to the picket line in the country over the last few years. Teacher morale has reached a 4 year low, according to a recent study done by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMHC), and salaries play a big part in those frustrations.
Many teachers also cite the fact that lack of education resources means that they not only have to be an educator but also take on the role of social worker caring for the needs of their students.
“Teachers are asked to address these challenges while many work second and third jobs and routinely dip into their pockets for supplies for children,” Weingarten previously told Yahoo Finance.
Buttigieg’s plan cites the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment’s 2018 Early Childhood Workforce Index and says that teacher’s earning power has diminished over the past few decades. His proposal states that early childhood educators who are predominantly women earn less than $11 per hour.
The plan also points out that the disproportional amount of these teachers are women of color. To combat this, the South Bend mayor proposes a tripling of Title I school funding to pay for higher salaries for school teachers, leaders and support staff.
Buttigieg also wants to recruit and retain more teachers of color, and doing so may have a profound effect on students of color. An analysis done by IZA Institute of Labor Economics shows that black students who have two black teachers’ by third grade are 32% more likely to attend college.
Aarthi Swaminathan and Reggie Wade are reporters for Yahoo Finance. Aarthi can be reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow them on Twitter at @aarthiswami and @ReggieWade.