MEA Remains Silent On Consolidation

The purpose of a union is to protect the interests of its members.  The Maine Education Association is a state affiliate of the largest labor union in the United States, the National Education Association.  The NEA states that its mission is “to advocate for education professionals and to unite our members and the nation to fulfill the promise of public education to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world.”  We must ask ourselves why the MEA leaders choose to ignore this principle.  The MEA has not been an advocate for Maine educators when it comes to school district consolidation.

This morning, the Kennebec Journal reported on the MEA’s fight against TABOR II and the excise tax cut.  The MEA  referred to TABOR as an “immediate and real threat” to our public schools.  In an email to supporters, the MEA asked its members to “bring to bear the full power, and every resource within our 25,000-member association.” against TABOR.  (Does that quote remind anyone else of Star Wars?)  With only a week left until Maine votes, the MEA has kept its promise.  MEA executive director Mark Gray produced an ad likening TABOR to a horror movie.  The MEA also has a pdf on their website comparing the Maine Heritage Policy Center to pests.  There is no mention of other statewide issues except Social Security offsets and a few monthly reports.

The MEA is running two PACs  to combat TABOR as well.  Citizens Who Support Maine’s Public Schools and Citizens Unified for Maine’s Future both oppose TABOR and the excise tax cut.  The MEA contributed $117,778.49 to the CWSMPS and $37,338.04 to CUMF.  The MEA itself has donated $155116.53 to oppose Questions 2 and 4.  How much as the MEA donate to the school consolidation vote (Question 3)?  Nothing.  Not one cent.

School Consolidation is not the only education issue the MEA has been silent on.  When the issue of cutting school days to save money came up the MEA made no public comment.  Nor have they said anything publicly about the Governor’s plan to cut $38 million from GPA.  Any comments on school consolidation have been lost to the ether; the MEA website does not maintain an archive.  Clearly the MEA higher ups have other priorities.  This election season it is TABOR and excise taxes.  MEA president Chris Galgay also found plenty of time to stump against charter schools.

We can debate whether or not TABOR and excise tax cuts will impact state education budgets, and we should.  School consolidation is here and now too.  It directly impacts Maine’s educators and students.  Why make clear public denouncements of TABOR II and the excise tax cut and ignore the school consolidation repeal?  Maybe it is time to reconsider if the MEA leadership is the best representation of those it is suppose protect?  As it stands now, it seems the MEA leaders would rather advocate their own interests.

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