Education

Our Teachers Should Be Paid What They Are Worth

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Good teachers are critical to Maine’s future, so let’s pay them adequately.

Our children are our most valuable asset, and as a parent, I have been fortunate to raise my family in Maine.

Unfortunately, while Maine is a good place to raise a family, our teachers are earning below-average salaries.

The average salary for teachers in New England states is more than $70,000. In Maine, they settle for $20,000 less, which is $8,000 below the national average.

Sadly, union bosses who claim to represent our educators don’t want to work on solutions that will increase teacher wages and help improve their teaching skills.

For six years I have tried to work with union bosses at the Maine Education Association to benefit students and teachers, but they refuse. For years, I have proposed matching funds for professional development of our teachers to increase expertise and excellence, but they refused and walked away from the table. I have advocated for more money in the classroom and less for inefficient administrative structures, but the union bosses won’t support that either.

Once again, I am standing up for our teachers to ensure they receive better pay, but we need your help.

There is a bill in the legislature to increase teacher’s wages and make sure that more state funds for education actually end up in the classroom.

It is part of a comprehensive plan that will recruit and retain highly qualified teachers, as well as provide equity across the state for both teachers and students.

This is especially important in rural and disadvantaged schools where there is high turn-over because they are unable to compete with higher salaries in wealthier districts.

A statewide teacher’s contract will enable excellent, properly paid, professional educators for every classroom and student in the State of Maine.

The State would pay for the standard salaries and benefits of all Maine teachers. By directing state funding to actual teaching and learning, the contract would bring the state share of education cost above 55%, the so-called magic number that advocates cite based on a flawed formula.

And it removes an enormous burden on local volunteer school boards, who have to bargain teacher contracts and are often outmatched by professional, highly paid negotiators from the MEA. Think about the wasted time of having 148 superintendents engaged in negotiations every year rather than focusing on student outcomes. There must be a better way.

Past gimmicks, like raising the minimum teacher salary, have not provided a long-term solution. Even after the State implemented a $30,000 minimum annual salary for teachers, districts fail that requirement claiming added local financial burden. Teachers are still being hired below the minimum.

It’s time we put our students and our teachers first, and reject the union bosses and special interests that only want the status quo.

On Thursday, there is a public hearing on this important bill in Augusta. I encourage you to come to the state house and voice your opinion.

If you cannot make it, write a note to your state representative and senator. Your voice matters, and so do our teachers.

About Paul LePage

Governor Paul LePage (R) has served as the 74th Governor of Maine since 2011. Prior to his time as governor, LePage served as the general manager of Marden's and as the mayor of Waterville.

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