May 03, 2022

Van Hollen, Booker Re-Introduce Legislation to Boost Teacher Compensation by up to $15,000

Under the RAISE Act, educators would be eligible to claim up to $15,000 in new, refundable tax credits

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) joined Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) alongside Representatives Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), John Larson (D-Conn.), and Mark Takano (D-Calif.) in introducing 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 $1000 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.

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 also co-sponsored the legislation: Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Brown (D-Ohio), Duckworth (D-Ill.), Heinrich (D- N.M.) Menendez (D-N.J.), Padilla (D-Calif.).

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) 

Full text of the legislation can be viewed here