Congress is weighing a significant change to the teaching profession — one that proponents hope could help attract strong candidates to the classroom while retaining those who are already in it.
The American Teacher Act, a bill introduced in the House of Representatives in December by Rep. Frederica Wilson, a former teacher, would establish a minimum salary of $60,000 for every public school teacher in the country. Though its success remains a long shot, especially in a now-divided legislature, the proposal gained steam in February when Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont announced he would be introducing complementary legislation called the Pay Teachers Act.
This is the first time Congress has introduced legislation that would create a salary floor for teachers, according to Wilson’s office.
But it’s not the first time that lawmakers and education leaders have identified $60,000 as the magic number. In fact, in a number of regions across the country, first-year teachers are already being hired at that starting salary, thanks to recent pushes for better educator pay.
As Congress considers a federal minimum, we examine two successful efforts — one locally, another statewide — to raise teacher salaries and, in the process, raise the status of the teaching profession.
Maryland Maps a Way Forward
Some years back, before the start of the pandemic, Maryland state legislators were thinking about how to improve their education system, hoping to transform it into one of the best in the world.