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Governor’s Address: Maine Education Association puts money into political campaigns, not classrooms

The Maine Education Association has a tremendous influence on legislators in Augusta. But make no mistake: the MEA’s mission has nothing to do with improving education for our children.
Dear Maine Taxpayer,

I have never kowtowed to special interest groups—and I will not now. That’s why we must expose the MEA’s tactics to the Maine people. The MEA is nothing more than a lobbying group trying to get more money from taxpayers for an education system that is not improving.
The MEA wants legislators to support a 10 percent income tax on successful Mainers. They claim the state has never fulfilled its obligation to pay 55 percent of public education—but they don’t tell you it is a moving target that can never be fully funded the way the law passed. Superintendents decide what the 55 percent will be, and they move the goal posts every year.
Furthermore, if you take into account the state’s portion of teacher pensions and health care after retirement, the state is paying over 55 percent of the cost of public education.
Recently, the MEA sent a questionnaire to legislators, implying their answers will decide whether MEA will endorse them in November election.
The MEA implies that spending more money on schools will reduce child poverty. It perpetuates the myth that charter schools will destabilize public schools. It asks legislators to increase the minimum wage to $12 an hour, calling it a “livable wage.” In fact, it should be called a starter wage. Minimum wage was never intended to be a livable wage.
The MEA wants to remove a school administrator’s ability to transfer teachers. The MEA also scares legislators into thinking teachers will not get adequate pensions.
I always say the education system has two winners and two losers. The winners are the union bosses at MEA and the superintendents. The losers are the students and our teachers.
The MEA is not interested in putting adequate money into classrooms. It is politically motivated to keep the status quo, while teachers and students pay the price.
For years I have asked the MEA to join with me in supporting Maine teachers by improving and increasing the opportunities available to them through professional development. I have never received a response.
I once again challenge the MEA to put up 5 million dollars and the administration will match it. This money could be used for training and professional development of our teachers—some of whom spend money out of their own pockets to buy school supplies for students.
Keep in mind, the MEA pays 15 of its employees more than $100,000 a year each (plus benefits). Surely, it can find resources to support the improvement of skills and development of our teachers.
Instead of working with our administration to improve education, the MEA is using the dues it takes from teachers’ paychecks to run political campaigns.
Be sure to ask the candidates in your district who they support: union bosses and school bureaucrats or teachers and students.
Thank You,
Paul R. LePage
Governor

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