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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

'American Teacher Act' would set $60K base pay for teachers

Teacher pay should start at a minimum of $60,000 a year, said advocates of the American Teacher Act at the U.S. Capitol last week, reports Adam Goldstein of the Iowa Capital Dispatch in The 74.

The bill provides four years of federal grants to raise teacher pay, as well as funding for "a national awareness campaign" touting the teaching profession.


Median pay for public school teachers was $61,600 in 2020-21, according to the National Education Association, but the range is large. Mississippi paid an average of $46,862, while the average teacher in New York made $90,222.

The sponsor, Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Florida, a former teacher, said 1 in 5 teachers works a second job to supplement their income, contributing to a reported teacher shortage in some school districts.

The bill, originally introduced in December, is being revised to account for differences in the cost of living, writes Libby Sanford in Education Week.

It's also not clear how "teacher" will be defined. Policymakers don't want to fund unqualified or underqualified teachers, she writes. "Some states, including Arizona, Florida, Missouri, and Oklahoma, have eased certification requirements or dropped requirements that teachers receive a bachelor’s degree." However, they also don't want to deny raises to "people from diverse backgrounds."


Arne Duncan, who served as secretary of Education in the Obama administration, estimated the grants would cost around $50 billion a year, but said it would be worth it to improve teacher quality.


However, raises will go to all teachers, regardless of their ability, and the bill apparently will require that districts maintain a salary schedule that pays based on seniority rather than merit. District won't be able to channel raises to math, physics, special-education or bilingual teachers, who are in short supply.


States and districts that reject the federal funds will see teachers go to neighboring states that pay more, advocates said. But, if states can't afford to pay more, they'll be in trouble when the federal grants dry up.


Of course, setting teacher pay at the federal level makes no sense, and the odds of the American Teacher Act passing are very low.

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7 Comments


Robert Diethrich
Robert Diethrich
Feb 02, 2023

Yeah, just like they are proposing in Texas, awash in a big surplus, raising our salarires $15,000. Of course the idiots in Austin will do it in one of two ways 1) Just hand the money to the districts, which means we will see almost none of it, as they pay for other things or 2) Include all the useless upper level management with the Jill Biden degrees, which will whittle the cash down to probably about $2,000 when all is said and done.

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Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
Feb 01, 2023

This is a terrible idea; it's surprising that anyone thinks it's a good one. Its backers obviously understand nothing of economics nor of governance, especially federalism, which, as understood by the founding fathers, included the Tenth Amendment, whose equivalent is still in practice in Canada, a federal nation with better education than that of the United States, where education steadily declines, especially under the Biden-Harris administration.

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Steve Sherman
Steve Sherman
Feb 01, 2023

Union payoff

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Guest
Feb 01, 2023

The second job is considered a smart move in my area, as done right, it makes one eligible for both teachers' pension and above average SS. The low income at start makes one eligible for benefits on housing in many areas. So, retire in 35 years - age 56 - on your teacher's bennies, then add in SS at whatever your retirement age is. Salary is but one component of a benefit package and the general public knows it.

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Guest
Feb 01, 2023

What a silly bill. $60,000 is very different in San Francisco than it is in Tuscaloosa.


Besides that, in what universe is teacher pay a *federal* issue rather than a state or local issue? Sheesh.

--mrmillermathteacher

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Guest
Feb 02, 2023
Replying to

I know that they *can*. The feds do a lot of things they *shouldn't*.

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