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Why We Must Stand Up for Students

We know we must stand up for students every day by putting our efforts toward meeting student needs—doing what is best and doing what is right for every student. 

But what happens when forces work against us? As your officers—Grace, Denise and I—travelled around Maine this summer we heard stories of the difficulties faced each day as educators work to overcome the deficiencies in students’ lives. Without the basic needs met, our students can not reach their full potential and become the most they can be.

We gathered stories of homelessness and food insecurity, of abuse toward children and abusiveness by children toward peers and adults in schools, of students who struggle every day with building friendships and acceptance with others.

In the voices, we heard the frustration of educators not being able to do more. As mandatory reporters how do we protect children in an abusive home while we wait for services? What can we do to protect our students from bullying? With a lack of services and enough qualified personnel, how can we provide for the "regular" students while meeting the needs of those with special challenges?

Standing up for students these days often means more than providing the classroom snack or weekend backpack of food, the pencils and notebooks, the winter jacket and boots, now it also means finding outside services for students to flourish. It means having a plethora of classroom opportunities to move students into learning, and it means providing stability and security to each child.

Which brings me to Question #2 on the November ballot­—a referendum aptly nicknamed "Stand Up for Students." The referendum would put $157 million dollars into education for use in the classroom and provide educators with the opportunity for necessary professional development to meet the needs of all Maine’s children. The money would come from an income tax surcharge of $30 per thousand dollars above $200,000. Most school districts would see an increase in the amounts sent by the state through the Essential Programs and Services formula for additional services for students—not to replace money but to increase (supplement not supplant).

MEA supports Yes on Question #2, together with our partners from Maine Parent Teacher Association, Maine Children’s Alliance, Maine People’s Alliance, Small Business, and a growing number of School Board members who support getting more money into our schools to stand up for students.

Every educator in Maine wants our students to be successful and to enter the workforce prepared. But without the resources to help our students get beyond the fight for basic needs they will not be able to reach their full potential and become all they can become in the next generation. It is our responsibility to do everything we can to stand up for our students, and casting a Yes vote for Question #2 will help us accomplish more for our students.

MEA Benefits Trust

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