President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged states to make more changes to their educational systems to boost the supply of teachers, as his administration pushed to boost more workers from the lowest-paid to the highest-paid.
The White House, which has been struggling to contain a steep decline in the number of jobs created over the past two years, said in a statement that it was expanding a pilot program that allows for a higher percentage of high school and college teachers to be paid more than the lowest paid teachers.
The new guidelines will make it easier for states to hire and train teachers who earn less than $50,000 a year, the statement said.
They will also expand training opportunities for teachers who take on low-wage jobs that require a high level of education.
The White to President Obama administration said it was increasing the number to 2,500 by 2019 and 4,000 by 2022.
The move follows a string of reforms that the White House has pushed for since he took office in 2009.
It also comes amid the fallout from the collapse of a major state pension plan, which resulted in the cancellation of millions of dollars in public workers’ benefits.
Obama’s push for higher wages has led to criticism from unions and other groups, including the teachers union that has pushed hard for his signature education law, the National Labor Relations Act, which the president signed into law in 2009 to reduce the influence of big business in the workforce.
More broadly, the administration has been trying to push for changes to the country’s education system that would help reduce the growing gap between rich and poor children, which some say has led more young people to drop out of school.
While the White to president administration’s push to boost teachers is one of the first steps to make teachers more financially secure, the move comes at a time when many of the most vulnerable children are in need of higher-paying jobs.
In addition to hiring more teachers, Obama has proposed a federal tax on hedge fund managers and other wealthy investors to encourage them to invest in schools, as well as making it easier to use student loans.
A White House official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the plans, said the plan was meant to boost teacher salaries by expanding the pool of high-skilled, qualified workers.
It is part of a broader effort to increase the supply and skills of workers in a wide variety of industries, the official said, and would expand access to higher-education education for millions of students and create jobs.
The National Labor Federation, which represents teachers, said Tuesday that the administration was attempting to create a new standard for the wages paid to teachers.
“The White-House proposal to increase teacher wages is an attempt to get higher wages for millions more teachers and, in doing so, is a cynical attempt to give higher wages to those who are already making significantly less,” the union said in an email.
“We will continue to fight for pay parity and the full reinstatement of the National Teacher Resilience Act.”