(CNSNews.com) - "If we believe in the future of this country, if we believe in our children, we have got to believe in our educators," Sen. Bernie Sanders told a CNN-hosted town hall in New Hampshire on Thursday night.
The 2020 Democrat presidential hopeful called for a "revolution in education," including teacher salaries that start at $60,000 a year.
Sanders said he would triple funding for schools in economically disadvantaged areas, "because in America, public schools should provide quality education to all, not just to those who live in wealthy communities and have a strong property tax base.
"Number two, my goal -- it's a radical goal, but this is what I believe -- my goal is to make sure that within a few years, every teacher in America earns at least $60,000 a year."
Sanders called it "quite unbelievable" that in New Hampshire, "there are teachers starting off in certain districts making less than $29,000 a year.
"And I can tell you, having visited South Carolina on many occasions, you got great teachers there who have been in the profession 20 or 30 years. They are leaving the profession because they can't make an income. You have young people going into teaching with student debt of $50,000, $100,000 a year."
Sanders then outlined his vision for American education:
I want the best and the brightest college students to say with pride, man, when I graduate, I am going to become a teacher, because it's one of the best and most important jobs available. I am going to be impacting the lives in my career of hundreds, if not thousands of young people. What can be more important than that?
But bottom line is, we have got to change our attitude toward education. We live in a country which can provide literally hundreds of millions of dollars to great basketball players and football players and baseball players. And yet we have teachers who have to take money out of their own pockets to buy school supplies and who are leaving the profession because of inadequate salaries.
So if we believe in the future of this country, if we believe in our children, we have got to believe in our educators. And I certainly will make education a major priority in this country.
Host Anderson Cooper followed up, noting that Sanders wants to freeze federal funding for all new charter schools.
"Yes," Sanders said. "Because I think that charter schools...are able to do things that public schools can't. They can pick and choose the students that they get. Their teachers are not able to become union members.
"They are -- they don't have the accountability that public schools do. And we have seen many, many problems in charter schools. And they are taking money away from public education. So I think public money should go to public schools, and we're going to freeze all private charter schools funding."