With schools opening across the state, Gov. Paul LePage has recently been quoted as saying that teachers in Maine are “a dime a dozen” – an obvious attempt to demean Maine’s public educators. However, the financial news website 24/7 Wall St. did a state-by-state review of data from the 2017 Quality Counts report and ranked the strength of Maine’s school systems at a solid 13th in the nation.

The report’s co-author states that its grading framework is designed to reward states with a “well-rounded approach to education.” He goes on to highlight how schools and families with solid financial resources can help their children succeed. These two factors are elements of a good education that many schools in Maine do not have, yet the teachers of Maine manage to make it all work.

The governor’s comment has bothered me for some time. As a Mainer with two teachers in my family, I can personally attest to the long hours and hard work that Maine educators put in on their students’ behalf, as well as the difficulty of trying to ensure that as many as 23 to 25 students in a class are all succeeding and learning throughout the school year. The juggling of priorities and initiatives (many of them generated by people like Mr. LePage) is without question both endless and exhausting. Yet teachers across the state carry on.

It’s clear that Maine teachers are, in fact, a vital community resource and are far from “a dime a dozen.” However, what is equally clear is that the governor of Maine lacks the executive skills to see that the road to success is created by building on solid achievement, such as that occurring in Maine’s schools, and not by endlessly tearing down hardworking people to make a cheap political point.

Jeffrey Brown