Kamala Harris’ ‘Teacher Pay Gap’ Gimmick Ignores Reality

Alice Salles Comments

Presidential hopeful and former mass incarcerator Sen. Kamala Harris now wants property owners to foot the bill of the ever-growing and yet incredibly inefficient public school system in America. Because why not?

As president, Harris wants to increase the estate tax to give public school teachers a raise. And to do that, she wants to make the “top 1 percent of taxpayers” pay the government more for leaving a legacy behind to their loved ones while “cracking down on loopholes that let the very wealthiest, with estates worth multiple millions or billions of dollars, avoid paying their fair share.”

With this, she hopes to raise $315 billion over 10 years to give the average public school teacher a $13,500 raise.

To “close the gap” between the pay teachers and similar professionals get, she said, is important because teachers are “not being paid their value to us as a society.” But what is, exactly, the public school teacher’s “value?” Without a true free market in education, that question can’t be honestly answered.

Courting Political Allies, Not Parents

Part of the broader agenda, Harris announced on television, is to boost the incentives so that educational professionals who go into public schooling feel respected. After all, “there are two groups of people who are raising our children — that’s our parents, which can be grandparents, aunties and uncles, and it’s our teachers.”

To Harris, we have a duty to pay whatever she says their value is worth. Even if private school teachers are often paid much less than those in the public school system, and even if a completely free market in education would seldom produce the type of teacher salaries we see in the public sector.

But extorting property owners to “invest in education” isn’t what she’s after. Instead, a quick look at Harris’ campaign financing records shows she has more than a few good reasons to court teachers’ unions.

And as even the sympathetic press explains, Harris is capitalizing on the teacher pay “gap” movement that has been growing across the country by focusing on a policy that is “critical to the nation’s teachers unions, which have largely been key players in Democratic Party politics.”

As you can see, even those who agree that public school teachers aren’t paid enough admit that this whole charade is about getting political allies the goodies they require so they may continue to support Harris.

If the goal was to truly support teachers — and children, for that matter — the politician would be discussing how the government’s quasi-monopoly on education distorts supply and demand in the education market.

With the public school system supplying most of the country’s children with education, it’s nearly impossible to determine real teacher wages, as government schooling is sustained by taxation.

In a private market, where teacher pay is based on consumer demand, it is actually easy to determine how much teachers should be paid. But in the public system, the bottomless pit of money at the disposal of administrators distorts the pricing mechanism. In this environment, a teacher’s “value” can be any aleatory figure brought up by politicians and interest groups alike.

As proven time and again, politicians never mean what they say. Why would it be any different with Harris?

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