Senator Rebecca Millett, the chair of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, has introduced LD 898, “An Act to Provide for a Professional Wage and Support for New Educators”. The bill was most likely written by the Maine Education Association, and would more honestly be titled “An Act to Sustain and Succor the MEA”. LD 898 is a Trojan horse posing as an effort to improve teacher quality, while containing provisions likely to assure that only “woke” students committed to social justice will be certified to teach in Maine (and join the MEA).
LD 898 is one of several bills seeking to raise the minimum starting salary for teachers to $40,000. The bill supports this with provisions that would reduce the supply of new education graduates and conditionally certified teachers by imposing mandated academic and “disposition” requirements on all new teachers, and by mandating lengthy and extensive professional development training for conditionally certified teachers (who are often older professionals with significant real world and private sector experience).
The bill would require the state, rather than local property taxpayers, to finance all or most of the costs of the mandated salary increases, subsequent step raises, and professional development. The fiscal note should be a beauty. The education committee recently showed its support for local control in unanimously voting ought not to pass on LD 589, Rep. Lockman’s bill to ban “indoctrination” by MEA members, but I doubt concerns of local control will be uttered in regards to LD 898.
The dispositions provision is the real hidden danger in this bill. Dispositions are attitudes, values and practices. The bill mandates that teacher prep programs develop “disposition assessment instruments that clearly describes the operational definition of each disposition component for candidates.” In practice, disposition requirements include social justice activism components such as these:
- University of Maine Statement on Teacher Candidate Professionalism: Social Equity mentioned twice in context of diversity, but not defined.
- UMPI Statement on Education Program Conceptual Framework: The CoE recognizes the importance of designing and implementing curricula that support students’ appreciation of social justice, awareness and acceptance of differences among people based on ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, gender, exceptionalities, language, religion, sexual orientation, and geographical area.
- SUNY Oswego Statement on Teacher Dispositions: Educators exhibit enthusiasm, initiative, and dedication to the task of providing a safe, inclusive, equitable environment for all students to learn at high levels; and seek effective new ideas, diverse perspectives, and relevant information to develop continuously as educators for social justice.
- CSU Northridge List of Dispositions: Commitment to diversity and social justice.
Social justice is rarely defined. Students who have exhibited any level of antipathy or insufficient enthusiasm for sustainability, intersectionalism, the Green New Deal or some other pillar of the social justice agenda will likely not satisfy disposition requirements.
These requirements will likely blackball or discourage right of center, traditional conservative and religious students from becoming teachers. In other states and professions, they have resulted in litigation. It’s bad enough in social work and psychology; increasing ideological homogeneity in the MEA is a prescription for toxic school environments and a loss of bipartisan support in our schools.
After the Janus decision last summer, I resigned from the UMS faculty union that is affiliated with the MEA and NEA. The Buckeye Institute is representing me in a federal lawsuit seeking to end the union’s exclusive representation. The MEA has supported tax the rich and social justice referenda and politicians that I find abhorrent. LD 898 is more of the same.