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As Teacher Revolt Sweeps Nation, Democrats Propose Clawing Back Tax Cut for 1% to Fund $50 Billion Boost to Schools

"We will take a bullet for our students," teachers say, but elected officials have not held up their end of the bargain

Teachers in North Carolina became the latest educators to walk out of their classrooms earlier this month, in support of the #RedforEd movement. (Photo: @mrsmountzart/Twitter)

On the heels of protests across the nation over low pay for teachers and states' prioritization of corporate tax cuts over investing in schools, Democratic lawmakers joined with national education leaders on Tuesday to unveil a proposal aimed at restoring the nation's schools and boosting teacher pay by repealing Republican tax giveaways to the richest one percent.

Lily Eskelsen Garcia and Randi Weingarten, heads of nation's largest teachers' unions, joined Democratic leaders including Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Capitol Hill to propose a $50 billion injection into schools and teacher salaries over the next ten years.

"We will take a bullet for our students," said Eskelsen Garcia, referring to school shootings, another recent issue the nation's teachers are grappling with as they fight for fair pay. "There is nothing we leave on the table when it comes to fighting for our students. But we need the political forces that were elected to actually give us those school buildings, to give us the books and supplies that we need, to make it so we could actually raise our own families on a modest teacher salary and not have to clock in on the weekends as a cashier or an Uber driver...We know that can do better."

Support for the teachers' protests—dubbed the #RedforEd movement—that have swept through West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona, and North Carolina since February has been bolstered by viral images of deteriorating textbooks and broken school chairs as well as stories of teachers taking multiple jobs in order to make ends meet and paying hundreds of dollars out of pocket for school supplies.

The tax cut that was afforded to the richest Americans amounts to $72 billion, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy—even more than what Democrats and teachers are demanding be used to improve the nation's education system.

With that revenue restored, the Democrats' "Better Deal for Teachers and Students" would include a $50 billion fund for states to increase teacher compensation and to help school districts recruit qualified teachers and to improve school resources and infrastructure.

The initiative would also improve Title I schools that serve low-income students, increase access to music, art, and computer science classes, and raise spending for special education classes.

"We already know the Republican tax bill was a scam for the rich," said Schumer on Tuesday. "But it's not too late to undo its most egregious components and do some good for our teachers, our students, and our middle class families."

Democrats have also proposed repealing the Republican tax cuts for the wealthy in order to fund infrastructure repairs throughout the country.

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