There has been much written recently supporting the governor’s plan to raise the beginning teacher salary to $30,000. In order to attract and retain highly qualified teachers, we must provide a salary that is commensurate with the expectations of the job, which has become much more demanding in recent years. Not only are our beginning teacher salaries lower than surrounding states, our teacher retirement system is not as attractive as in other New England states.

According to the book “How Does Teacher Pay Compare?” teachers earn significantly less than comparable workers, and this wage disparity has grown considerably over the past 10 years. A comparison of teachers’ wages to those of workers with similar skill requirements, including accountants, reporters and registered nurses, showed that teachers earned $116 less per week in 2002 – a wage disadvantage of 12.2 percent. Teachers’ weekly wages have grown far more slowly than those for comparable occupations and teacher wages have deteriorated about 14.8 percent since 1993 and by 12 percent since 1983, relative to comparable occupations.

Maine has the opportunity to recognize the importance of having a highly qualified teacher in every classroom by passing the $30,000 beginning teacher salary. With the majority of Maine’s teachers in the 50-59 age bracket, now is the time to act if we are going to have the “best and brightest” professionals teaching the children of Maine.

Vicki Amoroso, Rumford