There has been much discussion in the Press Herald about the fairness and affordability of property taxes and school budgets, but nothing about the influence of the Maine Education Association’s influence on both.

Fifty percent to 70 percent of property taxes go to public schools, and education is a major budget item for the state. Typically, 70 percent of a school budget is for staffing.

Education costs accelerate faster than inflation, income or economic growth while student populations decrease; 38 percent of U.S. high school graduates don’t meet basic minimum performance standards and up to 40 percent need remedial help when starting college.

The MEA mantra is always more funding and more staffing, yet the data show there is no correlation between spending and educational performance. MEA contracts require automatic pay increases for goals that we know add nothing to the quality of education and enabled the MEA to collect $85 million in excess charges for teachers’ insurance.

Nationally, teachers’ unions force school districts to keep teachers charged with serious felonies on the payroll, and it can take 10 years and cost up to $450,000 to fire one bad teacher.

Teachers’ unions are huge political donors. They put 95 percent of that money in the hands of Democrats, who in turn maintain the unions’ monopoly on education (fighting charter schools, watering down performance measures, etc.).

The many years of rising cost (taxes) and mediocre performance demonstrate that lawmakers aligned with teachers’ unions have no interest in meaningful change.

A California court said it best when it found that the union chokehold on public education does not serve the interest of the public and is actually harming students.

We have many good teachers, but until we get the union influence out of education, our schools will struggle, money will be wasted and taxes will rise excessively.

Dennis T. Caron