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Proposal: Give Teachers a $10,000 Raise By Adding Federal Tax Credit

July 17, 2018

On July 13, the Center for American Progress released a new proposal to vastly increase teacher pay using the federal tax code. The proposal’s release comes on the heels of several months of teacher strikes across the country that have shone a light on the critical state of teacher compensation in the United States, as well as on the same day as the American Federation of Teachers kicks off its annual national conference.

The CAP proposal aims to narrow the pay gap for teachers in high-needs schools. It would give teachers as much as a $10,000 - or roughly $190-per-week - raise using the federal tax code. This permanent, refundable tax credit would ensure that all eligible teachers would see a significant increase in take-home pay that is not subject to annual appropriation negotiations. The report also addresses preserving and increasing state and district funding levels under this plan.

Teachers earn only 60 percent of what their counterparts in other professions requiring similar education and experience make. In fact, average teacher salary in 30 states is below a family living wage. While teacher pay is a problem for all teachers, teachers in low-income schools make less than their peers in more affluent schools.

“Low teacher pay is a national problem that requires a national policy response,” said Neera Tanden, CAP president and CEO. “It threatens student outcomes, hurts districts’ efforts to hire and retain quality instructors and improve teacher diversity, and leaves educators unable to make ends meet.”

“From West Virginia to Arizona, the public agrees that teachers deserve the same dignity and respect afforded to other professionals,” said Meg Benner, senior consultant at CAP and co-author of the report. “This proposal would allow teachers to be able to stay in the jobs they love and increase student outcomes.”

After adjusting for cost of living, teacher salaries declined in 39 states from 2010 to 2016. The situation could get worse, not better: The Supreme Court’s recent Janus v. AFSCME decision will make it harder for teachers to bargain for better wages, and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act could have a devastating impact on states’ and districts’ ability to invest in education through local tax revenue.

Read How to Give Teachers a $10,000 Raise by Meg Benner, Erin Roth, Stephenie Johnson, and Kate Bahn.

Source: California Controller’s Office

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