Your editorial Sunday included gratuitous comments about the teachers’ union while enthusing about a “LePage legacy.”

Leaving aside those comments and asking all parties to stop asserting without evidence that “what I am proposing is for the kids,” I’d like to address one of the thorny problems confronting the state.

Most teachers take their jobs aware that the salary scale is respectable, but limited. Most teachers work at their day jobs many hours outside of school; that’s part of the job. Part of the deal has been that they, like the governor, would be compensated with a pension. That’s the contract. The young people who may be our next teachers, however, now perceive a disconnect. The same people who want to raise standards and make evaluations tougher also are advocates for cutting the retirement program.

It is fine to ask smart young people to take a job that is challenging and not financially rewarding. It is fine to pose as “responsible” and demand cuts to retirement programs. Smart young people, however, can see that both ends of the deal are fraying.

Would you advise a smart young person to become a teacher? What would be the basis for that advice? “You’ll have bigger classes and more teaching to a random test standard.” “You can compete with lower-paid private and parochial school teachers.” “You won’t have a good compensation packet or good retirement.”

Or maybe, “Do it for a few years to get your college loans paid and maybe you’ll be hooked because you took on a family and a mortgage.”

Or would you say, “Don’t be a fool. You have a good education, and you’re taking a job without prospects or security?”

What would you say to convince someone to teach?

Jim Perkins


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