Kamala Harris on upping teacher salaries: "Let's pay them their value"

Kamala Harris on $13,500 teacher pay raise

2020 Democratic presidential contender Sen. Kamala Harris is on a mission to close the pay gap for America's teachers, something she says is "not a partisan issue." Harris, who unveiled her new plan to increase the pay for public school teachers nationwide with a $13,500 pay raise, told "CBS This Morning" on Tuesday that "for too long" teachers have been paid "substandard wages" and are "not being paid their value to us as a society."

"I am proud of our initiative that has been described as the largest federal investment in closing the teacher pay gap in history.  I think there is no question that we all know there are two groups of people who are raising our children -- that's our parents, which can be grandparents, aunties and uncles, and it's our teachers. So let's pay them their value," Harris told CBS. 

The plan, which according to Harris' campaign would cost $315 billion over ten years, would be paid for by adjusting the federal estate tax and closing current tax loopholes for the wealthiest Americans. 

"Right now [the estate tax is] only $11 million and up and we need to lower that so that we can actually pay what we want in terms of knowing what we want to invest in our teachers and the future of our country," Harris said. She added that the "the data is very clear, teachers are as compared to other college graduates,  receiving 11 percent less in pay across the country so we have data that supports this point and that is the equivalent of about $13,500 a year."

Harris said that for states that cannot act on her plan, "we should actually support them" with a federal government funding match of a 3:1 ratio.

Harris said it's an "investment" in the education of children across the country.

"I look at my friends who are successful in the private sector, and I admire that they understand that we really should look at these things through the lens of whether it is we're going to get the return on the investment," Harris said.

She added, "we can judge a society I think always by the way it treats its children, and one of the greatest expressions of love of our children is that we invest in their education."

  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital