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Why I Contribute to the MEA Fund

The following is an excerpt from a letter written by Jack Wallace, a retired educator from Brunswick who recently donated to the MEA Fund in support of public education.

As a retired educator, my retirement benefits have been frozen, the state contributions to our health care plan have remained the same while the premiums have increased, the retirement system is looking into a defined contribution system, and most disturbingly the disdain for educators has been overwhelming.

There are a few issues that I see as priority ones. First, the retirement system needs to be protected. One of the reasons it is a defined benefit program is that there are very few professions where a college-educated professional makes as little money as we do. We accept that because we want to help children. We are not motivated by any kind of profit. Instead, we accept delayed gratification and believe in the promise that our reward will come later in life. As an association, we need to protect these benefits for those who are just entering the profession. No more changes need to be made and if we are going to attract good young teachers to the profession, we need to keep those benefits.

The issue of choice in schools needs to be dealt with finally. I testified to the Education Committee last year when the bill was up for adoption. The results across the nation are decisive: school choice results in no better results than what we have now, and in a rural state the need to keep the local school as the center of activities in our many small towns is paramount. The research from Colorado and Minnesota, where school choice has been in effect for more than two decades, finds that lower performing schools are being forced out of existence because funds to improve them are no longer there. This is the LePage method; reward the good ones, kill the bad ones. Competition rules. Nowhere in the world is competition believed to be good for education. Especially in a rural state.

The recently-held "Governor’s Conference on Education" was a farce. A brain-storming of ideas for different methods? More like an ideological propaganda assault that makes no sense while talking about children and education. How would the education commissioner of Finland react to this conference? Not very well I suspect.

I appreciate the work that MEA does in fighting for the future of teaching and learning in Maine. I know it is difficult in these times of Governor LePage, but he won’t be there much longer, and the Legislature that he needs to deal with is not the rubber stamp legislature of 2011-2012. Hopefully, my small contribution will help you in your fight for better and more meaningful schools and teachers.

Jack Wallace - MEA-R

If you would like to donate to the MEA Fund please send checks only to:
MEA Fund
35 Community Drive
Augusta, ME 04330



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