Democrat Rep. Frederica Wilson has introduced a bill to give teachers a federal minimum wage of $60,000 a year.
The American Teacher Act would create a grant program for states through the Department of Education, which they need to opt into to raise their minimum salaries.
In addition to the minimum wage, the bill will mandate yearly increases “congruent to inflation to support states’ ongoing efforts to ensure competitive wages,” according to a report from ABC News.
‘”I think that the pandemic itself gave us a great snapshot view of how important teachers are,” Wilson told ABC News, adding: “This is a period in our history that we should realize the value of our children having access to good teachers and good education.”
Wilson, of course, also made the taxpayer-funded project a race issue.
“This is an issue I’ve always been passionate about,” said Wilson. “As time has progressed, teachers’ salaries, minimum wage, has not been commensurate with other salaries in our economy — especially as it relates to Black men.”
Wilson was a Head Start teacher before being elected to Congress.
The congresswoman argued that the minimum wage would help to combat teacher shortages.
“Our nation is undergoing a mass exodus of teachers leaving the classroom,” Wilson said. “We can choose to take this issue head on or lose America’s teachers and have the education of our students severely impacted.”
The median pay for teachers was already approximately $61,000 in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with lengthy winter, spring, and summer vacations.
However, there are massive gaps in the average pay for each state. The Tennessee Lookout reports, “Mississippi, the lowest-paying state for teachers in the 2020-2021 school year, paid an average of $46,862, according to the National Education Association. Meanwhile, in New York, the average teacher salary sat at $90,222. “