Presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris proposed a huge pay raise for American teachers on Tuesday, her latest bid to set herself apart from the crowded Democratic field vying to take on President Donald Trump in 2020.
Her plan comes as teacher protests for higher pay and better benefits continue to break out across the country, including in Harris' home state of California. The lawmaker is proposing:
The senator is widely considered one of the top contenders for the Democratic nomination in 2020. The first contests of the primary season are just under a year away, but candidates are already trying to stake claims to positions as they woo voters in key states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has set much of the pace on the policy front.
Harris' campaign calls the teacher pay and education funding plan as "the largest investment in teachers in American history" and estimates it would cost about $315 billion over 10 years.
The campaign says teachers earn 11 percent less than people in similar professions, citing an Economic Policy Institute figure. It also claims that eliminating the teacher pay gap and investing in the education system could add up to $2.3 trillion to the economy, citing a figure from management consulting company McKinsey & Company.
But not everyone is on board with increasing teachers' salaries so dramatically.
Some critics claim increasing pay for teachers will reduce the number of available jobs for applicants, as fewer teachers leave their positions. They say that though the applicant pool for teaching positions will grow if salaries are raised, the quality of the candidates will decline as potential teachers become discouraged by their inability to find a job.
Critics also claim that increasing salaries can be burdensome on taxpayers, as states seek a source to pay for the raises.
Harris' office did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.