Who Supports Public Education?

MEA did the homework for you and researched which candidates support our public schools. Here is a list of those running for office that promise to keep students, schools and the profession at the center of their decisions.

The average starting teacher salary in Maine in comparison to the average starting salary for the New England region is $7,317 less. For some perspective—as a region, the number of school districts with starting salaries above $40,000 in New England is 502. Maine has just four. The Maine Education Association is working to right the ship, and change state law to increase the starting teacher salary to $40,000.

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Currently, according to state law, school districts are only required to pay starting teachers $30,000—and 12 districts do just that, with another 107 paying less than $35,000 as a starting salary. After ten years teaching, twenty-nine districts still don’t pay a salary of $40,000. Furthermore, some districts don’t even pay a salary of $40,000 when you max out the scale. In Penobscot, the maximum salary on the scale for a teacher with a Bachelor’s Degree is just $39,800, the same pay as someone with ten-years-experience. In that district, the only way to earn more money is to have a Master’s Degree. Even then, with a Masters’, teachers can only earn $46,450, after 15 years.

The MEA began the conversation concerning low teacher salaries and increasing starting pay to $40,000 last year with lawmakers in the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee. The MEA is continuing to work with lawmakers, and the bill to boost the minimum pay by $10,000 is expected to receive further debate this year. The MEA is working closely with Senator Rebecca Millett to educate lawmakers on the issue in order to both pay educators what they deserve and retain and attract new teachers.

ESP Salaries

The MEA is continuing to work to improve the salaries of education support professionals across the state as well. In addition to continued work at the bargaining table by MEA UniServ staff, the MEA is working with progressive partners to keep the voter mandated minimum wage intact. As it stands now, the increase in the minimum wage law, which brings the state minimum wage to $12/hour by the year 2020, will
impact nearly 200 job classifications in various districts across the state. The calculation is based on current contract minimums for ESP, and that data could change as the years pass. However, even with
the passing time and renegotiating of contracts, a $12/hour starting salary will make a difference for ESP statewide. Lawmakers are currently debating several bills that could impact the voter approved increase to the minimum wage. The MEA is monitoring the legislation and sharing the stories of our ESP members who will be impacted by the increase.

For more information regarding this issue, read the Maine Educator: Salary Issue

MEA staff members ensure your contractual and legal rights are protected through grievances and legal representation services. Paid expert legal services are provided only to members. This benefit is one you can’t afford to do without. You need the legal safety net that comes with membership in the Maine Education Association. Here is how you are protected:

 

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  1. Staff assistance and access to legal consultation if you are injured in the course of your work or need a leave of absence for health or personal reasons
  2. Legal assistance if you face a dismissal for cause hearing
  3. Legal representation if an allegation of abuse or inappropriate conduct with a student is filed against you and an investigation is launched by a state agency
  4. Legal representation if you are accused of committing a crime for an act you performed related to your school duties
  5. Liability insurance coverage for attorney fees and costs if you are acquitted of a criminal charge or if those charges are dismissed
  6. Liability insurance coverage to pay for the defense of civil suits brought against you for acts performed related to your work and to cover damages assessed against you in such suits
  7. The Attorney Referral Program, which offers discounts for legal representation in matters not related to your school employment, such as wills, real estate and traffic court matters

 

The MEA will be there for you when you need it the most. For more information, contact the MEA Division of Legal Services at (888) 622-4418 extension 2216.

Our legislative program lobbies the Maine Legislature and Congress for school funding, education laws that make sense, and licensure requirements that meet the needs of the profession. Lawmakers need to hear from the experts in our schools. Your educator voice matters, and when you can’t be there, MEA leadership and staff are present ensuring lawmakers understand the impact of proposed policies on your work and on the lives of your students.

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Because of MEA’s presence, in the last few years, some of the success include:  
  • Hundreds of Millions more in education funding
  • Elimination of the testing mandate tied to teacher evaluations
  • Changes to the Rules of Restraint and Seclusion to make them manageable/realistic for educators
  Why is the MEA involved in politics? Why should educators worry about who gets elected?   Here are three good answers:
  1. Protection of public schools is a fundamental task of the Association. With repeated political attacks on our schools at the state and national level, educators must defend their programs and MEA has led the way in proclaiming the success of Maine schools and defeating attempts to displace public schools as the cornerstone of our democracy.
  2. Funding for K-12 schools, the University of Maine, and Technical College Systems is largely dependent upon the good will of state legislators. The health and prosperity of your program, salary, and benefits is directly tied to votes on school funding. MEA is a strong proponent for more funding and is often the only voice for student needs.
  3. What you teach and how you do your job is the result of political decisions. If MEA isn't involved, decisions about school curricula, teaching methodologies, student assessment, and graduation requirements will be made without regard for educator interests.
 

Join the MEA Today!