Kamala Harris Announces $315 Billion Plan to Address Educational Inequality in Black and Brown Communities, Jump-start HBCUs
Jay Connor, The Root, March 26, 2019
On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris unveiled her intention to deliver the largest federal investment in teacher pay in the history of the United States.
In declaring a crisis in teacher pay in America, Harris noted that public school teachers are paid 11 percent less than similar professionals with college degrees, and expressed her commitment to closing the pay gap entirely within her first term.
Teachers are underpaid in general, but for black teachers and students, the prognosis is even grimmer.
Outside of black teachers earning an average of $2,700 less per year than their white counterparts, turnover for teachers who serve schools with a high concentration of students of color is an astonishing 70 percent higher.
Additionally, despite the fact that black teachers boost reading and math achievement, as well as graduation rates while inspiring students of color to pursue college, their meager wages directly influence their diminished presence in schools. And we won’t even get started on the racial inequities regarding student loans or school funding.
It’s a damn mess, but a mess that Harris appears ready and willing to confront at any cost. As evidenced by her proposal on Tuesday to spend a jaw-dropping $315 billion over the course of 10 years, Harris aims to increase wages and improve recruitment, training, and professional development of teachers throughout the country—but particularly those found at HBCUs.
America’s highest-need schools, which disproportionately serve students of color, will receive funding to increase teacher pay even further.
The federal government will support programs dedicated to teacher recruitment, training, and professional development—particularly at HBCUs.
Half of this funding will be dedicated to high-quality programs at HBCUs and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). Nearly 40 percent of all black teachers and 50 percent of all Hispanic teachers graduate from MSIs.
The $315 billion plan—which will be funded by strengthening the estate tax and cracking down on loopholes exploited by the affluent—has been praised by the likes by education policy expert Catherine Brown, National Education Association President Eskelsen Garcia, former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.
“When President Lyndon B. Johnson made a major investment in education in 1965, he told the country that it was to ‘bridge the gap between helplessness and hope.’ Fifty-four years later, this gap remains,” she added. “But I am determined to keep building that bridge as president.”
And thankfully, to the benefit of black and brown communities.