Millett bill would raise teacher minimum wage to $40,000
AUGUSTA — Legislation from Sen. Rebecca Millett, D-Cape Elizabeth, LD 898, “An Act To Provide for a Professional Wage and Support for New Educators” received a public hearing before the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee on Monday. The bill would increase the minimum salary for certified teachers to $40,000 beginning in the 2020-2021 school year.
“Maine’s future depends on the quality of education our children receive,” said Sen. Millett. “Ensuring our teachers have quality training, strong mentors and a livable wage is one piece of ensuring our children have the best classroom experience.”
LD 898 would increase required in classroom experience for teacher prep students, raise the minimum grade point average to 3.0 for teacher prep classes, provide new teachers with baseline observation and feedback opportunities during their probationary periods, and establish the minimum salary at $40,000. The bill provides steps to recruit high quality candidates, strengthen competencies, and provide compensation that recognizes and supports strong public education.
Maine has a current shortage of teachers in industrial arts, mathematics, science, special education and world languages. In addition, nearly one third of Maine teachers are 55 or older, which means that in the next five to seven years, thousands of educators are going to retire, further exacerbating the shortage. Without adequate pay, it is difficult to close this gap.
Patty Scully testified in support of LD 898. Scully has been a public school teacher for 33 years and works at Winslow Elementary School. “I don’t know a single person who went into education for money,” said Scully. “Teachers help out of their own pockets and go without” having to buy “snacks, markers, crayons and even boots. Many factors contribute to this situation but pay is one of them.”
The Director of Government Community Relations for the University of Maine System, the Maine School Boards Association and Maine School Superintendents Association, Maine State Chamber of Commerce, and Maine Education Association all testified at Monday’s hearing. All who testified agreed that there is a need for additional pay for teachers.
The bill faces more action in the committee and votes before the full Maine House and Senate.