For Immediate Release: Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Contact: Adrienne Bennett (207) 287-2531
Governor’s Veto Message Urges Union to Support Teachers’ Professional Development Not Politics
AUGUSTA – Governor Paul LePage vetoed a bill today to reaffirm the need for the Maine Education Association (MEA) to provide professional development and support to its teachers. The union represents more than 24,000 active and retired educators. Governor LePage vetoed LD 1781, An Act To Restructure the National Board Certification Program for Teachers citing he believes a more coordinated state-wide solution is required.
The LePage Administration is committed to increasing support and development training to Maine teachers, and the Governor acknowledges the importance of National Board Certification. In his veto message Governor LePage offers to eliminate teacher certification fees and increase teachers’ salaries. However, the Governor does not feel that teachers and taxpayers should be the only contributors to funding the certification process. “LD 1781 requires teachers to partially fund the program, while simultaneously paying union dues,” Governor LePage wrote in the veto message, “which are squandered on a host of activities not even remotely related to professional development.”
Governor LePage reiterated his challenge last week urging the MEA to provide teacher training to its members. In a letter to MEA President, Chris Galgay, Governor LePage encouraged the MEA to partner with the State to improve professional development opportunities. “Specifically, I pledge to budget state funds to match – dollar for dollar – any increase in professional development funds offered to teachers by the MEA,” wrote Governor LePage.
Last year, Governor LePage offered this same challenge to the union, which has yet to offer a response. “We must work together to move education ahead in Maine,” the Governor said Tuesday, “right now the union is not stepping up to the plate. Teachers should be concerned when education is being put on the back burner as a result of decision-making from union bosses.”
Just last week, Rob Walker, executive director of the Maine Education Association said “making sure we have a highly skilled work force is the job of the employer” not the union. Meanwhile, the MEA announced its endorsement recently of the same-sex marriage proposal on the November ballot. This announcement is an example of what the union is choosing to focus on rather than expanding and enhancing opportunities for teacher development.
The Governor has consistently said that in order to improve education, we must first ensure that every student has an effective teacher. Research shows that investments in effective teaching are a critical component of educational success among students. According to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, research indicates that the single most influential school-based factor affecting student achievement is teacher quality. Therefore, the most important thing that schools and policymakers can do to improve student outcomes is to ensure that every student has a highly accomplished teacher.