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Betsy DeVos Says Great Teachers Should Earn $250,000

At the Education Writers Association conference in Baltimore today, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos drew a gulp from the crowd when she said, “Great teachers should be making at least half as much as Randi Weingarten does at a half a million dollars a year.”

Weingarten, president since 2010 of the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second largest union for K-12 public school teachers, has repeatedly attacked DeVos, and the secretary has returned fire. In 2017 at her union’s annual convention, Weingarten called DeVos an “ideologue who wants to destabilize and privatize the public schools that millions of Americans value and rely upon.”

DeVos countered that Weingarten and her union “care more about a system, one created in the 1800s, than they do about individual students.” According to the 990 tax form Weingarten’s union filed for 2016, her compensation that year, including deferred pay, totaled $510,390.

DeVos, speaking at a lunch session in a ballroom at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel, made her bold proposal about teacher pay in response to a question from New York Times education policy reporter and EWA board member Erica Green, who asked what DeVos thought of public teacher strikes over pay and other issues. Since early last year, strikes have spread through more than a half dozen states and cities, including in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Arizona. Elementary school teachers in Arizona had been earning an average yearly salary of $42,474.