Uncle Sam Should Pay Teachers a Basic Income

Uncle Sam should pay teachers a basic income because America criminally underpays public school educators.

For example, the starting average annual starting salary for a teacher was $38,617 in 2017, the National Education Association calculates. Meanwhile, the average household income in the USA was $62,175 in June 2018, Sentier Research estimates.

In addition, the average salary for a kindergarten to 12th Grade (K-12) public school teacher was $58,064 in 2018, The Washington Post estimates. However, teachers earn far less in many states.

Chronically underpaid Teachers need Basic Income

For instance, South Dakota teachers earned $42,025 a year in 2018, Money.com claims. Moreover, teachers in 38 of the 50 states earn less than the national average.

Fortunately, most teachers work in high-population states like New York where teachers earn more money. Specifically, the average New York teacher earned $78,576 a year in 2018.

Unfortunately, many states dramatically underpay teachers. In fact, the average teacher in Oklahoma earned $39,306 a year, USA Today calculates. Meanwhile, Arizona teachers earned $44,284 a year in 2018.

Uncle Sam Should Pay Teachers a Basic Income to Avoid labor Unrest and Teacher Shortages

Tellingly there are now teacher shortages in most of the US states surveyed by The Guardian. In detail, 28 of the 41 states The Guardian surveyed were experiencing teacher shortages.

Thus there are teacher shortages in most states if The Guardian’s data is correct. Moreover, other data suggests there are teacher shortages in nine states The Guardian did not survey. Consequently, there could be teacher shortages in 37 states.

In particular, 80% of school districts in California were short of teachers in 2017-2018. Meanwhile, schools in Oklahoma could not fill 500 vacant teaching positions in 2017-2018.

Dramatically, Rhode Island’s state legislature is considering the unprecedented move of letting out-of-state teachers into the state’s classrooms. In Oklahoma, up to 4,000 teachers are working with emergency certification, The Guardian claims.

To clarify, “emergency certification” means those teachers do not meet the basic qualifications for a teaching license. School districts hire unqualified teachers because they cannot find anybody else. Thus, tens of thousands of American children are being shortchanged by the teacher shortage.

How Basic Income can help Teachers and Children

Congress could ease this situation by paying public school teachers a basic income.

In fact, we can easily pay such an income to teachers in the form of a $1,000 or $2,000 a month tax credit. Importantly, Uncle Sam can pay the basic income directly to teachers without increasing bureaucracy or expenses at school systems.

The infrastructure for delivering such a basic income already exists in the form of federal income tax credits. Teachers can apply for the income by filling out their income tax form and receive it every month as an electronic funds transfer.

Thus Congress could give every public school teacher in America a $1,000 to $2,000 a month raise. Importantly, this basic income will be a massive stimulus for many of America’s poorest communities. Teachers will have more money to buy things like homes and cars, and cash to spend on Main Street.

Specifically, Congress can guarantee the money reaches the teachers. Importantly, there will be no way school boards, state legislators, or administrators can divert the funds.

Why we need a Federal basic income for teachers

A federal basic income for teachers will address fundamental flaws in our tax system.

Notably, most of the new wealth in America is being made through investments and technology. In fact, three men; Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and investment legend Warren Buffett, make as much money as 160 million Americans, USA Today claims.

Yet, school districts rely on property and sales taxes for revenue. Hence, most schools have no way to tap America’s new wealth for income.

However, the Constitution gives Congress the power to tax the wealthy’s income. In addition, Congress can disperse the funds directly to schools and teachers.

I think Congress should implement a wealth tax and use it to finance a basic income for teachers. Moreover, the federal government should pay teachers directly to ensure educators receive the money.

A Basic Income for Teachers Fights Income Inequality

In addition, a long-term solution we should consider is having the federal government pay all public school teachers. An advantage to that solution will be to standardize teacher salaries and qualifications nationwide.

Moreover, national teachers’ unions lobbying Congress could be a more effective means of labor relations than strikes and local negotiations. Notably, corporations negotiated tax breaks that cost school districts $1.8 billion in 2017, Reuters claims. To explain, corporations get such breaks through professional lobbyists.

Moreover, national teachers’ unions lobbying Congress could be a more effective means of labor relations than strikes and local negotiations. Notably, corporations negotiated tax breaks that cost school districts $1.8 billion in 2017, Reuters claims. To explain, corporations get such breaks through professional lobbyists.

Moreover, every teacher can influence the votes of all of his or her students’ parents. Thus, each teacher could deliver dozens of votes, something politicians will pay attention to.

Finally, a basic income for teachers can be a template for a system of wealth transfer to middle-class professionals. Thus, a basic income for teachers could help save the American middle class from income inequality.