HOUSTON ― U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) on Saturday officially announced her proposal to make what she says would be the largest federal investment in teacher pay in U.S. history.
“We are a nation and a society that pretends to care about education,” Harris told the crowd at a campaign stop as she seeks the Democratic presidential nomination. “We are not paying teachers their value.”
Speaking before 2,400 people at Texas Southern University, Harris decried the pay gap between teachers and similarly educated college graduates, which her campaign places at 11 percent.
Teachers are more likely than other professionals to work multiple jobs, according to research culled by the campaign. The job pays $1,000 less today than it did three decades ago, in inflation-adjusted dollars.
“Some of them are paying out of their own pocket to pay for school supplies,” Harris said. “That ain’t right.”
Harris declined to explain how she would pay for the policy, which her campaign plans to roll out over the coming days. But she pressed the case as a common-sense move to help both teachers and their students.
“The question is what’s the return on the investment,” Harris said. “On this, the investment will be our future.”
Some 3.6 million people worked full time as teachers as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Harris’ early decision to build support in Texas reflects the growing importance of the country’s largest red state in Democratic politics. The Houston event capped the candidate’s two-day swing through the state, coming on the heels of El Paso Democrat Beto O’Rourke’s campaign launch.
Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julían Castro, a San Antonio native, is also vying for the chance to dislodge President Donald Trump from the White House.
“We have presidential candidates barnstorming the state,” Manny Garcia, communications director for the Texas Democratic Party, told HuffPost. “It’s great to see two of our own Texas Democrats running. We’re very proud of that. But we’re also proud that we’ve got people coming here.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.