Bernie Sanders has promised to fight for a $60,000 minimum salary for public school teachers in a town hall speech this week.

“We should be paying public school teachers a minimum of at least $60,000 a year,” Sanders said at a town hall in Washington D.C. on Monday night, standing with national teachers union leaders. “I am proud to tell you I will soon be introducing legislation to do just that.”

Sanders is carrying through on the pitch President Biden made during his State of the Union address to elevate educational priorities, including teacher salaries and increased access to pre-K schools.

“If you want to have the best-educated workforce, let’s finish the job by providing access to preschool for 3- and 4-years-old,” Biden said in the speech. “Let’s give public-school teachers a raise.”

The hope is for these education improvements to help address inequity, teacher shortages, and poverty, all in one sweep.

Currently, the median wage for public school teachers is $65,090, which is actually lower than it was a decade ago, and slightly higher than the new proposed minimum, but a median and a minimum are not the same thing. For the median to be $65k, half of all teachers have to make less than that. Some of them significantly less. The median wage of teachers in Mississippi, for instance, is only $47k.

Bernie Sanders also encourages states to implement their own minimum salary for teachers, so long as it exceeds the hoped-for federal statute.

$60k is almost precisely in line with the median US annual wage across all occupations, which was $58,260 in 2021. But since the median monthly rent in the US is currently over $2000 or over $24,000 a year, and economists still pin a good budget as one where rent makes up no more than a third of your budget and preferably less, Bernie Sanders and his proposal still fall short.

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