Sen. Kamala Harris’s (D-CA) campaign fleshed out the first big policy proposal of her presidential campaign Monday morning, detailing a plan that would raise the average public school teacher pay by $13,500 per year.
The proposal addresses an issue that has had growing political potency in recent years, and has led to successful strikes for higher pay from red states like West Virginia and Oklahoma to blue cities like Harris’s adopted hometown of Los Angeles.
“Our country’s success is a product of the two groups who raise our children: parents and teachers. We are not paying our teachers their value,” Harris said in a statement. “Teachers should not have to work two or three jobs to pay the bills. This proposal will lift up teachers and families across America, give every American teacher a raise, and make a much-needed investment in our country’s future.”
Harris has assiduously looked to court minority voters and women in her presidential bid, the two largest voting blocs by far in Democratic primaries, and this policy would disproportionately affect those groups. Roughly three quarters of public school teachers are female, and about half of public school students are nonwhite, a number that continues to rise.
Harris’s advisers say the plan would cost $315 billion over a decade and could be paid for by increasing the estate tax and closing tax loopholes for wealthy earners.
The plan also calls for a multi-billion-dollar investment in teacher training programs, half of which would be given to historically black colleges and other minority-focused institutions.
She originally floated the plan over the weekend during a visit to a historically black college in Dallas, Texas.