On Feb. 17 (“Panel backs teacher minimum wage of $40,000,” Page B1), you reported on L.D. 1370, the proposal to mandate a minimum starting teacher salary of $40,000.

Since teacher contracts are for only about 180 days, we have to convert this figure in order to compare it with other salaries in Maine – salaries for people who are paid for about 260 days a year.

When we do the math, we see that, under this new pay scale, teachers would be starting at a rate of $57,778 per year. This is much higher than most other publicly funded positions requiring a bachelor’s degree and even higher than publicly funded positions requiring much more demanding preparation, such as three to four years of graduate school.

You also report that teachers would need a minimum 3.0 grade average to teach. Having taken a few education courses myself, I have to say that if a person can’t get a B average in an education program, they probably have a significant learning or motivation deficit. It was widely known that education courses were “gut A’s” and as long as you showed up and didn’t die of boredom during the semester, you’d get an A.

Mention was made that the District of Columbia has a starting teacher salary higher than $40,000, but I suspect that the average D.C. property owner also makes considerably more than the average Maine property tax payer.

Of course, this bill is supported by the Maine Education Association, the teachers’ union. They don’t care that the state has not funded the prior $30,000 minimum; that the state will likely not fund this increase; that teachers keep fighting any type of evaluation system, although they’re the highest-paid professionals with a bachelor’s degree; and that skyrocketing property-tax rates are forcing landowners to sell land that has been in their families for years.

Don Saastamoinen