CARSON CITY – California Sen. Kamala Harris made three stops Tuesday on a presidential campaign swing through Northern Nevada, holding politics and policy discussions and touting her proposal to increase teacher pay at a roundtable with educators.
Harris met with Washoe County Democrats in Reno and later keynoted an evening political fundraiser for the progressive policy group Battle Born Progress at a Carson City restaurant. In between, she spoke with educators at the Eagle Valley Middle School in Carson City, taking questions about teachers unions, early childhood and special education, and teacher pay.
The senator’s first major policy proposal as a candidate would use federal estate taxes to immediately boost teacher salaries by an average $13,500 across the country, with the federal government matching state funding 3 to 1. The goal is to raise teacher pay to the levels of similar professionals. Citing an average teacher salary of $57,400 in Nevada, the Harris campaign says teachers here could see a $15,000 increase to achieve parity.
“If we are going to invest in the education of our children, we must invest in our teachers,” Harris told a group that included school administrators, teachers, Democratic party leaders and union officials in the middle school library.
The candidate arrived Tuesday in Nevada from stops in California the day before. Emphasizing the impact of teachers, she retold a favorite anecdote about her first-grade teacher, Frances Wilson, who later attended her law school graduation.
“There are two group of people who are raising our children,” Harris said. Besides parents and families, teachers “spend roughly more awake hours with our children than parents do.”
In response to other questions, Harris said pay increases for educators need to start with teachers and that requirements placed on teachers, such as testing, do not take into account “realities and nuances of what we are requiring teachers to do.”
She also said she would “fight vigorously to ensure that every teacher has right to collective bargaining and right to join a union.”
In a brief question-and-answer session with reporters before the roundtable, Harris said she believed women who said former vice president and potential 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden touched them inappropriately, but added that continuing his candidacy would be up to Biden and voters to decide.
She said she was aligned with Nevada lawmakers in opposing a nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain, and said the continuing crisis over immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border, which this week prompted President Donald Trump to withdraw aid to other central American countries, was “a crisis of this president’s own making.”