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Paul LePage
Paul LePage
Maine Gov. Paul LePage continues to cite the Maine Education Association's support for marriage equality as a reason for his attacks on the state's teachers. On Tuesday, LePage vetoed a bill that would have offered teachers added pay for getting National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification, making it clear in his veto and in a press release that the veto was part of his personal war against the teachers union.

LePage believes (or claims to believe) that teachers unions should focus solely on professional development and not at all on anything else that improves teachers' work experience or their lives, so his veto statement (PDF) focused heavily on ridiculing alleged distractions from that LePage-defined union mission. He didn't focus there on marriage equality, doing that instead in a press release:

“The MEA announced its endorsement recently of the same-sex marriage proposal on the November ballot,” LePage said in a press release Tuesday. “This announcement is an example of what the union is choosing to focus on rather than expanding and enhancing opportunities for teacher development.”
As Igor Volsky points out, equal rights for gay people matter not only to teachers who may want to be able to marry their partners but to students; "Research has also shown that schools that discuss gay and lesbian people are safer for LGBT youth than schools that don’t."

Aside from the fact that LePage is going out of his way to be an asshole about gay marriage, repeatedly attacking a union for supporting equality, his broader "the union should be totally focused on professional development" war on the Maine Education Association is absurd. In fact, the MEA does do professional development work—at the same convention at which the union endorsed marriage equality, it also passed two professional development initiatives—but more significantly, states and cities should be investing in professional development for the teachers they employ, not expecting teachers to self-fund the requirements of their jobs. It's as if LePage was attacking a fire fighters union for not taking sole responsibility for training fire fighters to use new equipment purchased by the fire department and for which proficiency was required by the government and then on top of it claiming that the union was wasting resources by doing things like getting its members group discounts and, oh yes, supporting an equal rights initiative.

But that's Paul LePage: All the meanness and desire to divide and conquer of a Scott Walker, none of the slick ability to cloak it in faux concern for non-union workers.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri Jun 01, 2012 at 09:47 AM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement and Progressive Hippie.

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