Archive for July 25th, 2012

Gov. LePage at ME Educational System Presser: State Taking Over Non-Improving Schools “Discussed”; School Districts Should Pay for Remedial College Courses

Posted on July 25, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Press release from the Governor’s office

Governor Paul LePage and Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen held a joint media conference today to discuss the results of a recent study released by Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and Governance and unveiled a new initiative to revitalize Maine’s educational system: the ABC plan.

The study, an analysis of 49 countries worldwide and 41 states in the U.S., measured improvements in academic test scores of 4th and 8th grade students from 1992 to 2011. In comparison to other states, Maine educational growth ranked 40th out of the 41 participating states. United States placed 25th in the world rankings.

“Commissioner Bowen and I have been trying to address this for two years now. We know Maine’s educational system is lacking and we are here to share these results with you so that we can move in the right direction,” said Governor LePage. “This is a call to action.”

In response to the study’s findings, Governor LePage and Commissioner Bowen introduced their ABC plan. ABC stands for Accountability, Best practices, and Choice. Commissioner Bowen discussed the three-point plan in detail, explaining accountability means creating a system that measures school performance and providing assistance to those that are struggling; best practices means looking at other state’s and countries’ educational systems that have yielded proven results; and choice means giving students more learning options, such as open-enrollment for schools.

“These efforts will be our core focus as we head into the fall and winter,” said Commissioner Bowen. “We will be working with national experts from high-performing states on these initiatives, and we will be bringing a number of proposals to the legislature next session which we believe will get Maine’s schools headed in the right direction.”

Governor LePage reiterated that the status quo in Maine has been too heavily focused on administrative interests and procedures. This plan, he said, will return the central focus of Maine’s education policy back on students. The Governor also supported teachers as a vital piece to his reform plan, stating that the current rigid certification requirements and curriculum structures are stifling teachers and potential teachers from sharing their wealth of knowledge.

“Educators should be able to teach and mentor based on what they know. If a person is a professional in the subject they want to teach, they should be able to do so regardless of whether or not they hold a teaching certificate,” said LePage.

As the Kennebec Journal reports, LePage plans to propose a bill to require school districts to pay for the remedial classes their graduates require in college.

Moments ago, the Governor’s office released two audio sound bites from that press conference: School Choice, Providing More Resources to Schools. Additionally, they sent out text of a reporter’s question and LePage’s answer:

Response to a reporter’s question asking how the State will deal with underperforming schools.

Governor LePage: “Some of the measures we’ve talked about is the state taking over the schools. That’s the extreme if they just don’t improve. But we’re going to put resources into those schools to help them improve. And the resource is not always money. We’re looking at several models like Jeb Bush did in Florida and what other states are doing. I just recently had a discussion with Governor Jindal of Louisiana and some of the things that are working down there. And so we’re gathering the information so we can put together a program so we can assist school districts. It seems as I look at what’s happening is that we do a reasonable job K-6, middle schools we start to slip, and we get to high school and wow, we fall off the face. There’s got to be something causing it and we have to do some research and find out where the disconnect is.”

Commissioner Bowen’s prepared remarks can be found here.

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