Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced legislation on Thursday that would make the minimum pay for public school teachers in the U.S. $60,000 a year, following calls from President Biden to give teachers a raise last month.
The Pay Teachers Act of 2023, co-sponsored by a number of lawmakers including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), would provide states with federal funds to establish minimum teacher salaries of at least $60,000 a year. It would also triple the funding of the Title I-A program, which provides funding to schools with a high percentage of students that come from low income backgrounds.
“It is simply unacceptable that, in the richest country in the history of the world, many teachers are having to work two or three extra jobs just to make ends meet,” Sanders said in a statement. “No public school teacher in America should make less than $60,000 a year.”
The bill would also triple funding for rural education programs and prop up programs to diversify the teacher workforce.
The push from Sanders to boost public teacher pay comes after Biden included a call for raises for public educators in his State of the Union address last month.
“Any nation that out-educates is going to out-compete us,” Biden said in the speech. “Let’s give public school teachers a raise.”
Sanders has blasted the pay of public school teachers in the U.S. in the past, and cited rising levels of stress and increasing trends of teachers quitting as the reason why the federal government needed to support them.
The legislative push by Sanders has garnered the support of the National Education Association, the largest labor union in the country.
Lawmakers in the House introduced legislation late last year to increase the minimum wage of teachers in the U.S. to $60,000. The American Teacher Act, sponsored by Reps. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) and Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), would encourage states to raise their minimum salaries for teachers through a federal grant program.