education

Should the federal government subsidize teacher pay?

Yes

Yes

Joe Biden

Former vice president

“Teachers and school personnel do some of the most important and hardest work, but too often they aren’t rewarded. As President, Biden will correct this wrong,” his education plan said. “Biden will triple funding for Title I, the federal program funding schools with a high percentage of students from low-income families, and require districts to use these funds to offer educators competitive salaries and make other critical investments prior to directing the funds to other purposes.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Joe Biden
Biden

Michael Bennet (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, Colorado

Bennet is no longer running for president. “Yes, our teachers need to be paid like the professionals that they are, especially in schools with high rates of poverty, students with disabilities, and other community needs,” Bennet told The Post. “Though the primary responsibility for funding education will remain at the state and local level, the federal government has a role in supporting these schools and the teachers in them.”

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Michael Bennet
Bennet

Mike Bloomberg (Dropped out)

Former New York mayor

Bloomberg is no longer running for president. “Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for raising teacher salaries,” Bloomberg said in a July 2019 NAACP speech. “And when I was mayor, we raised teachers’ salaries in New York City a lot – by 42 percent. That’s probably more than any other large jurisdiction in the country. And we more than doubled the education budget in New York City. Around the country, the low salaries that many teachers are paid are a disgrace – and I think we should fix it.”

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Mike Bloomberg
Bloomberg

Cory Booker (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, New Jersey

Booker is no longer running for president. “Yes, we must do more to support the people doing some of the most important jobs in our country – our teachers. We need to consider a massive federal investment to boost teacher pay and eliminate those pay disparities,” Booker told The Post. “ In the Senate, I am working to address those disparities by writing the STRIVE Act, which would eliminate student debt for teachers who commit to the profession for at least seven years, and reduce it for others. The STRIVE Act also expands the teacher tax credit to put more money in the pockets of teachers, who too often go into their own pockets to pay for things for their students that they shouldn’t have to pay for, like food and school supplies.”

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Cory Booker
Booker

Steve Bullock (Dropped out)

Governor, Montana

Bullock is no longer running for president. “Teacher pay should be increased both to fairly compensate the people we trust with our kids, and to attract more talent to the profession,” Bullock told The Post. “But we shouldn’t use federal money to subsidize local salaries across the board. Federal support for teacher pay subsidies should go to the school districts that need them the most, in order to attract talent they couldn’t otherwise.”

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Steve Bullock
Bullock

Pete Buttigieg (Dropped out)

Former mayor, South Bend, Ind.

Buttigieg is no longer running for president. “We need to respect and value our teachers as the essential public servants that they are, and we need to compensate them accordingly. We need federal support for boosting teacher pay, and we need to begin by directing it to Title I schools — the schools with the most economic and racial inequity, and with the most students on free and reduced price lunch,” Buttigieg's campaign site said.

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Pete Buttigieg
Buttigieg

Julian Castro (Dropped out)

Former mayor, San Antonio

Castro is no longer running for president. “We also have to make a new commitment to the thousands of teachers and support staff that guide and teach our children,” Castro's education plan said. “We need to pay our teachers more, cut down on class sizes to foster individualized learning, and equip our educators and schools with the resources they need to be successful.”

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Julian Castro
Castro

Kirsten Gillibrand (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, New York

Gillibrand is no longer running for president. “A child’s opportunity and success shouldn’t depend on which block they grew up on,” Gillibrand's campaign website said. “To strengthen our communities, combat systemic inequality and ensure all of our kids have the chance to reach their potential, we have to invest in our public schools. This means paying teachers a living wage, maintaining small class sizes, and ensuring teachers have the resources and support they need.”

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Kirsten Gillibrand
Gillibrand

Kamala D. Harris (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, California

Harris is no longer running for president. “America’s teachers are drastically underpaid and they deserve a raise. That’s exactly what Kamala Harris intends to give them as President. We’ll make the largest investment in teachers in American history and provide the average teacher a $13,500 raise, entirely closing the teacher pay gap,” Harris's teacher pay proposal said.

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Kamala Harris
Harris

John Hickenlooper (Dropped out)

Former governor, Colorado

Hickenlooper is no longer running for president. “Yes, I believe the federal government can play a role in increasing teacher pay,” Hickenlooper told The Post.

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John Hickenlooper
Hickenlooper

Jay Inslee (Dropped out)

Governor, Washington state

Inslee is no longer running for president. “Washington state saw the highest average increase in public school teacher pay of any state in the union in 2018-2019 — 31% — and increased the average teacher salary from $56,000 to $73,000,” Inslee's campaign website said. “As president, Jay Inslee will once again make the federal government a partner for states and communities, and the guarantor of justice and equity in our schools. He will meet the challenge of investing in education in the same way that he has in Washington state: by supporting local educators and communities with the resources they need to best educate all of the children they’re responsible for, investing in lifelong learning, prioritizing climate change throughout the education system, and making higher education affordable for everyone so that people can obtain the skills they need to pursue their dreams and work in the country’s fastest-growing fields.”

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Jay Inslee
Inslee

Amy Klobuchar (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, Minnesota

Klobuchar is no longer running for president. Klobuchar supports subsidizing teacher pay, she told The Post. “We also need to make sure all our children can get a great education,” Klobuchar's campaign website said. “That means increasing teacher pay and funding for our public schools, with a focus on investment in areas that need it the most.”

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Amy Klobuchar
Klobuchar

Beto O'Rourke (Dropped out)

Former U.S. representative, Texas

O'Rourke is no longer running for president. “Beto’s administration will dedicate $500 billion toward the creation of a Permanent Fund committed to closing funding gaps, creating incentives for states and districts to guarantee fair funding for public schools and pay teachers professional wages,” O'Rourke's campaign website said. “The use of funds will be determined by each school based on engagement with educators, students, parents, civil rights groups, education stakeholders, and community leaders. ... Priorities for the fund could include increasing educator pay for all teachers and other specialized staff through a process that assures educators and their union a strong, meaningful decision-making role — with additional pay for educators in high poverty schools.”

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Beto O'Rourke
O'Rourke

Deval Patrick (Dropped out)

Former governor, Massachusetts

Patrick is no longer running for president. Patrick believes the federal government subsidize teacher pay, a campaign spokesperson told The Post. “As President, I will support a multi-fold increase in Title I funds, the primary federal resources available to schools that serve the highest percentage of low-income students,” his education plan said. “We will direct local school districts to use these additional funds to increase teacher pay in the neediest schools to close the teacher pay gap and help attract talented educators to schools serving low-income students.”

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Deval Patrick
Patrick

Tim Ryan (Dropped out)

U.S. representative, Ohio

Ryan is no longer running for president. “Yes. As the husband of an elementary school teacher, I know the difference a teacher can make and understand the challenges modern teachers face,” Ryan told The Post. “A comprehensive education policy must start with recognizing the value of our country’s educators. This means ensuring teachers are paid a living wage. Teachers should not be forced to get a second job to make ends meet.”

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Tim Ryan
Ryan

Bernie Sanders (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, Vermont

Sanders is no longer running for president. “Yes,” a campaign spokesperson told The Post. “Today, teachers now make 21 percent less – and they now, on average, make less than the typical worker in every state. In America today, a third of all teachers are working a second job and running up debt just to make ends meet. [Sanders] will significantly increase teacher pay by working with states to set a starting salary for teachers at no less than $60,000 tied to cost of living, years of service, and other qualifications; and allowing states to go beyond that floor based on geographic cost of living.”

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Bernie Sanders
Sanders

Joe Sestak (Dropped out)

Former U.S. representative, Pennsylvania

Sestak is no longer running for president. “Yes, especially for teachers in high-poverty schools and rural areas needing to attract teachers,” Sestak told The Post.

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Joe Sestak
Sestak

Tom Steyer (Dropped out)

Billionaire activist

Steyer is no longer running for president. Steyer supports subsidizing teacher pay, he told The Post.

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Tom Steyer
Steyer

Elizabeth Warren (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, Massachusetts

Warren is no longer running for president. “Strengthening education in America also means supporting public school teachers by raising their pay,” Warren told The Post. “There are a few different approaches to accomplishing that, including direct federal subsidies to states. My universal child care will also raise wages for child care workers and early education teachers.”

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Elizabeth Warren
Warren

Marianne Williamson (Dropped out)

Author

Williamson is no longer running for president. “Yes. We need to attract and retain high quality teachers,” Williamson told The Post.

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Marianne Williamson
Williamson

Andrew Yang (Dropped out)

Tech entrepreneur

Yang is no longer running for president. “As President, I will work with states to fund their educational systems to improve teacher salaries and reduce layers of administration, leading to better educational outcomes,“ Yang's campaign site said.

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Andrew Yang
Yang

Unclear/no response

Unclear/no response

Bill de Blasio (Dropped out)

Mayor, New York City

de Blasio is no longer running for president. De Blasio did not provide an answer to this question.

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Bill de Blasio
de Blasio

John Delaney (Dropped out)

Former U.S. representative, Maryland

Delaney is no longer running for president. Delaney did not provide an answer to this question.

Candidate positions highlighted
John Delaney
Delaney

Tulsi Gabbard (Dropped out)

U.S. representative, Hawaii

Gabbard is no longer running for president. Gabbard did not provide an answer to this question.

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Tulsi Gabbard
Gabbard

Seth Moulton (Dropped out)

U.S. representative, Massachusetts

Moulton is no longer running for president. Moulton did not provide an answer to this question.

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Seth Moulton
Moulton

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Background Teacher salaries are typically funded with local and state money, with some federal subsidies for teachers in schools with a significant number of poor students. This year, several candidates have suggested subsidizing teacher pay with federal tax money.

How candidate positions were compiled

The Washington Post sent a detailed questionnaire to every Democratic presidential campaign asking whether it supports various changes to U.S. education policy. Candidates with similar stances were organized into groups using a combination of those answers, legislative records, action taken in an executive role and other public comments, such as policy discussion on campaign websites, social media posts, interviews, town hall meetings and other news reports. See something we missed? Let us know.

This page will update as we learn more about the candidates’ plans. We also will note if candidates change their position on an issue. At initial publication, this page included major candidates who had announced a run for president. If a candidate dropped out after a question was published here, their stance is included under the "Show former candidates" option. If they dropped out before a question was first published, the Post did not reach out to get their stance.

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Candidate illustrations by Ben Kirchner.