Democrats propose funding teacher pay raises by canceling tax cuts for the wealthy

Now that Democrats will be taking over the House of Representatives on January 3rd, expect a few changes in the legislation that's going to be recommended and put on President Trump's desk.

Even if it doesn't go that far, a new president can be put into office in two years, so drumming up support for these ideas isn't wasted energy. Also, having control of the House is a huge boost.

Here's a biggie: Congressional Democrats have proposed raising teachers' salaries by canceling tax cuts for the nation's top 1 percent of earners. Look for this to be made an issue again.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said earlier in the year: “Teachers of America, we Democrats hear you loud and clear. Put simply, instead of giving a tax cut to the richest of Americans, we should give a pay raise to teachers in this country who our students depend on to succeed.”

Republicans have pushed back on the idea but they may not be able to stave off support for the proposal any longer. Giving teachers more money is just too popular an idea.

Here's a couple statistics that are pretty alarming: Currently, 18 percent of U.S. teachers are forced to take a second job just to afford their cost of living since their full-time salary isn't enough.

Let's look at it another way: How much does the average teacher salary stack up against the average college graduate? A USA Today study found that the typical college graduate in 2016 had an average annual salary of slightly more than $50,000. Teachers only made $38,000 in comparison.

Pelosi and Schumer laid out their plan in an Op-Ed with USA Today, saying there were five major points to their proposal:

"Education is the catalyst for economic mobility; it puts the rungs on the ladders of opportunity. We need great teachers in every classroom so that our children have every opportunity to succeed. And we must respect the voices of these professionals when making decisions about what’s best for their students. In our view, teachers’ pay should much more closely reflect their value to our society. After all, teachers are preparing our next generation. Investing in our future is not only the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do.

Unfortunately, Republicans have been pushing federal and state education cuts to fund tax giveaways for the rich, resulting in fewer resources for schools and low teacher pay. That must end. How can we as a country better support teachers and school staff to match the critical work they are doing for our children? Democrats have put together a plan, with five main components to offer our nation’s teachers A Better Deal:

First, we will dedicate $50 billion for states and school districts to increase teacher compensation and recruit and retain a strong, diverse workforce over the next 10 years. During the recession, public investment in K-12 schools declined dramatically. We should support states and school districts who want to reverse the trend and bolster teacher and school staff salaries.

Second, we will establish a new $50 billion fund for school infrastructure and resources. Students and educators deserve 21st century classrooms and up-to-date educational technology and materials. We tell children that education is important and send them a different message by putting them in substandard schools. Improving our nation’s school infrastructure will help retain our best educators.

Third, we will give additional support to initiatives that improve Title I schools serving low-income children, and ensure that all students have access to academic opportunities such as computer science, music and civics. We need to provide all students with a well-rounded education to get them ready for today’s changing economy.

Fourth, we will protect teachers’ freedom to negotiate for better pay and conditions by safeguarding the right of public employees to join unions, collectively bargain, and engage in collective action to support each other. Currently, no federal law provides teachers and other public servants with collective bargaining rights. Democrats want to guarantee teachers the same freedoms that private sector workers have to negotiate collectively for a better deal.

Fifth, we will work to meet our federal commitment to fund special education. When Congress first passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1975, the federal government promised to provide 40% of the excess costs of educating children with disabilities. We are not even close to that. Fulfilling our federal promise will not only help provide resources to students with disabilities, it also will improve the quality of education for all students."

At the end of their Op-Ed, they state that all the money will come from "revisiting" Trump's tax cuts for the top 1%. You can bet that at their first opportunity, that's exactly what the Democratic leaders will do.