Teachers cheering for Bernie Sanders

Supporters cheer for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speak at a rally in support of the Chicago Teachers Union ahead of an upcoming potential strike on September 24, 2019 in Chicago.

(Photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images)

Sanders Holds Town Hall to Elevate Crisis of Low Teacher Pay

"I do not think we should accept it as 'normal' in our society that billionaires get massive tax breaks while teachers in this country have to work a second job just to make ends meet," said the senator.

Ahead of a town hall featuring labor leaders and educators from across the country on Monday night, Sen. Bernie Sanders condemned the U.S. economic system which has allowed teacher pay to decline over the past decade while tax breaks have permitted the richest Americans and corporations to contribute less and less to the public sector.

"I do not think we should accept it as 'normal' in our society that billionaires get massive tax breaks while teachers in this country have to work a second job just to make ends meet," said the Vermont Independent senator. "We must pay all teachers in America at least $60,000."


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Sanders will be joined by four public school teachers, National Education Association (NEA) President Rebecca Pringle, and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten at Monday evening's town hall.

The event, titled "Respecting our Teachers: A Town Hall on the Teacher Pay Crisis in America," will place at the U.S. Capitol and streaming at the senator's Twitter and Facebook pages, starting at 7:15 p.m. ET.

"In the richest country in the history of the world, each and every person must be able to get the education they need to fulfill their dreams," said Sanders. "That means we need the best education system in the world, and that means we need the best teachers. Teachers have one of the toughest and most demanding jobs, and we must stand up and support them."

A poll taken last year by the NEA found that more than half of teachers in the U.S. were considering leaving their profession—a statistic Sanders, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, called "unconscionable."

Every state across the U.S. is currently reporting teacher shortages, and the senator pointed to "the fact that mostschool districts and states do not provide teachers with a livable and competitive wage" as a key reason for educators' departures from the profession.

According to the NEA, teachers in the U.S. now make $2,150 less than they did a decade ago, adjusted for inflation. During the 2020-21 school year, starting teacher salaries were at their lowest level since the Great Recession.

"Research hasfound that teachers are one of the most important factors in improving students' outcomes, and our nation has much work to do to ensure all students are taught by fully qualified and well-compensated teachers," said Sanders' office in a press release.

Noting Sanders' new position chairing the Senate HELP Committee, Weingarten said ahead of the town hall that the senator "is in the perfect position to do great things for workers across the country."

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