WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Congressman Adam Schiff (CA-28), Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41), Congressman John B. Larson (CT-01) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced legislation that would boost teacher compensation by putting tax money back in their pockets and help diversify the teaching workforce. The bill, called the Respect, Advancement, and Increasing Support for Educators (RAISE) Act, would provide educators with a minimum of $1,000 in refundable tax credits and as much as $15,000.
Currently, public elementary and secondary teachers earn about 20 percent less than similarly educated professions. Based on a worldwide comparison, the average salary gap between teachers and others with comparable educational backgrounds is greater in the U.S. than in any other OECD country with available data.
Early childhood educators fare far worse, with a national median wage of $11.65 an hour, well below the national living wage threshold. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly every state in the nation reported shortages of teachers in high-need subjects like science, math, special education, and English language development. Additionally, low income and students of color are the least likely to have access to a stable educator workforce, with nearly 50 percent higher teacher turnover rates in high-poverty schools.
Through refundable tax credits, the RAISE Act will help boost the compensation of early childhood, elementary, and secondary school teachers. Depending on the level of poverty in the schools educators serve, public school teachers would be eligible for a tax credit up to $15,000. The bill would also double the educator tax deduction, which teachers can use to offset the cost of school supplies and expand eligibility to early childhood educators.
“This Teacher Appreciation Day, we recognize the remarkable public servants who work to inspire students every day,” said Congresswoman Hayes. “Teachers pour their hearts into educating the young minds that will lead our nation into a brighter tomorrow. Despite their incredible dedication to the profession, too often educators are overwhelmed with financial burdens that force them to leave the classroom. Teacher pay has not kept pace with the pay of other professionals, leaving educators feeling woefully undervalued. The RAISE Act closes the wage gap for teachers and acknowledges them as the professionals they are. Supporting our teacher workforce makes our schools and communities stronger.”
“There’s no greater investment we can make in supporting children and families than supporting the teachers who dedicate their lives to caring for and supporting students,” said Congressman Schiff. “Teachers are the bedrock of our public education system – and they deserve fair compensation for the irreplaceable role they play in shaping America’s future. The RAISE Act would deliver long-overdue salary increases to early childhood, elementary, and secondary educators, helping ease the financial constraints that block quality teachers from entering and remaining in the profession. Educators hold the future of the nation in their hands, and it's past time we honored their service with the fair wages they deserve.”
“As a former public school teacher for 24 years, I know what a tremendous impact educators have on the lives of their students,” said Congressman Takano. “Teachers lay the foundation for a child’s education, and they didn’t waver from that responsibility even in the midst of a pandemic. They deserve to be paid for it. I’m proud to be introducing the RAISE Act with my colleagues to boost teacher salaries, reduce the teacher wage gap, and ensure a high-quality education for students of all ages. Together, we can support our teachers so they can continue inspiring our next generation of leaders and changemakers.”
“As we recognize Teacher Appreciation Week, I am honored to introduce the RAISE Act alongside my colleagues today to increase teacher pay and do more to recruit and retain educators,” said Congressman Larson. “When I served as a public school teacher, it was not possible to make ends meet without working a second job. Today we are taking a step forward toward ensuring teachers are fairly paid for their work and contributions to society.”
“Educators are constantly asked to do more and more without any significant increase in their compensation, and often at their own expense,” said Senator Booker. “The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these hardships, leading many teachers to leave the profession. This legislation would help support educators by using the federal tax code to put more resources back in teachers’ pockets. It’s time to reward our society’s unsung heroes by increasing teachers’ take-home pay.”
Specifically, The RAISE Act would:
- Provide all eligible early childhood and K-12 educators with a $1000 refundable tax credit, regardless of the level of poverty in the school in which they teach.
- Create a refundable tax credit of up to $15,000 for eligible public elementary and secondary educators and for early childhood educators with a bachelor’s degree.
- Create a refundable tax credit of up to $10,000 for early childhood educators with an associate degree or a Child Development Associate (CDA) certificate.
- Encourage teacher recruitment and retention in under-resourced schools and communities most in need by utilizing a sliding scale for the tax credit, based on school and early education program poverty levels.
- Provide labor protections to prevent the tax credit from being used unfairly in labor negotiations.
- Increase the educator tax deduction from $250 to $500 to offset teachers’ purchases of school supplies, and expand eligibility to early childhood educators
- Provide at least $5.2 billion in annual mandatory funding for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act’s Title II (a nearly $3 billion increase), which supports educator recruitment, retention, professional development, and class size reduction, which can improve teaching and learning conditions.
- Create and fund a federal grant program to support and incentivize local educational agencies to increase teacher salaries, and provide related programs to strengthen, retain, and diversity the educator workforce.
The following Senators co-sponsored the legislation: Blumenthal (D-CT), Brown (D-OH), Duckworth (D-IL), Heinrich (D- NM) Menendez (D-NJ), Padilla (D-CA), Van Hollen (D-MD)
“The Raise Act introduced by Senator Booker and Representatives Schiff, Hayes, Larson, and Takano not only recognizes the commitment and dedication of our early childhood, elementary and secondary school teachers, it is a step towards addressing this problem. While giving tax credits doesn’t solve the underpaying of teachers, it will help with district’s recruiting and retaining efforts. The popular child tax credits that so many Americans received in 2021 brought to light positive financial impact tax credits can have on individuals and families’ lives. The bill also rewards districts that maintain or increase salaries with additional grants that can be used for more recruiting and retaining efforts especially in our neediest districts. AFTNJ thanks Senator Booker and Representatives Schiff, Hayes, Larson, and Takano for introducing and advocating for this important and necessary legislation,” said Donna M. Chiera, President, American Federation of Teachers New Jersey (AFTNJ).
“The National Association for the Education of Young Children is proud to support the RAISE Act, which lifts up the valuable work of early childhood educators by boosting their compensation alongside their K-12 counterparts. Increasing educators’ salaries increases both the quality and supply of teaching, and is particularly vital as our nation grapples with a worsening teacher shortage for children of all ages. While long-term, substantial federal and state investment is necessary to increase the baseline compensation for early childhood educators, we appreciate Senator Booker’s tax-side solutions and the inclusion of early childhood educators working across settings in the urgently needed efforts to elevate and invest in the education profession,” said Rhian Evans Allvin, CEO of National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
“Educators are such vital members of the New Jersey PTA, and we are pleased to see that the Raise Act bill recognizes that our teachers have always gone above and beyond to advocate for our children by working extra hours in a day and reaching into their pockets to make sure their classroom is always well-stocked. This bill will help recruit and retain great teachers and motivate them to continue to educate our children, who are sure to be our future leaders,” said Candy Fredericks, New Jersey PTA President.
“Every child deserves access to a high-quality educator, yet our nation is facing crippling teaching shortages—broadly, but especially in schools serving students from low-income communities. The RAISE Act will help expand the teaching pipeline by attracting and retaining educators through fair compensation so that every child can benefit from an excellent teacher,” said Shavar Jeffries, President, Education Reform Now.
“Teachers’ salaries are lower than those of other similarly educated professionals, making it difficult to recruit and retain diverse, highly qualified teachers. The RAISE Act is an important and exciting step to move us toward more equitable access to great teachers for all students,” said Roby Chatterji, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for American Progress.
“Reports have made it clear that the educator staffing crisis denies students from the support that they need. Through insufficient educator salaries and chronic underfunding to our public schools, we have created an unsustainable model for the educator profession and must start treating educators with the respect they deserve,” said National Education Association (NEA), Director of Government Relations, Marc Egan. “NEA members applaud Sen. Booker and Reps. Schiff, Hayes, Larson, and Takano, for introducing The Respect, Advancement, and Increasing Support for Educators (RAISE) Act, as it will work to eliminate the wage gap between educators and comparable professionals.”
“Senator Booker and Representatives Schiff, Hayes, Larson & Takano have done what every elected leader needs to be doing - putting public resources toward the greatest impact: our teachers. In the past week alone, new data has shown that inflation-adjusted teacher salaries declined by over $2,179 over the past decade (NEA), that 74% of teachers believe their pay is unfair (Education Week Research Center), and that salaries are the least positive attribute of teaching (Upbeat). This adds to a mounting body of evidence that the RAISE Act is addressing head-on. The Teacher Salary Project has been documenting the strong bi-partisan support for making teaching a financially viable profession. The RAISE Act is the right bill at the right time to right this wrong and chart a new path for the teaching profession,” said Ellen Sherratt, Board President, The Teacher Salary Project.
Supporting Organizations: Advance CTE, American Association of School Personnel Administrators, American Federation of Teachers (AFT), American Federation of Teachers of New Jersey (AFTNJ), Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), Bank Street College of Education, California Association for the Education of Young Children (CAEYC), California Federation of Teachers (CFT), California Teachers Association (CTA), Californians for Quality Early Learning (CQEL), Center for American Progress (CAP), Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Child Care Aware of New Jersey, Child Care Services Association, Council for Exceptional Children, Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE), Deans for Impact, Early Edge California, Education Law Center (ELC), Education Reform Now, Every Child California, the Education Trust, First Five Years Fund, First Focus Campaign for Children, Head Start California, Joint National Committee for Languages, Latinos for Education (L4E), Learning Forward, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, National Center for Teacher Residencies, National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), National Education Association (NEA), National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY), National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), National Rural Education Association (NREA), National Women's Law Center, National Writing Project, Network for Public Education (NPE), New Jersey Educators Association (NJEA), New Jersey Parent Teacher Association (NJPTA), New Leaders, New Teacher Project, Public Advocacy for Kids (PAK), San Diego Unified School District, Southern Education Foundation, T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood National Center, Teach for America, Teach Plus, Teacher Salary Project, The Arc, UnidosUS, United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA)
Congresswoman Jahana Hayes sits on the Committees on Education & Labor and Agriculture and proudly represents Connecticut’s 5th District. She was a public school teacher in Connecticut for more than 15 years and was recognized in 2016 as the National Teacher of the Year.