New task force to focus on educational opportunities for Maine students

The following is a press release sent by the office of Gov. Paul LePage.

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Contact: Adrienne Bennett (207) 287-2531

AUGUSTA, Maine – Governor Paul LePage announced today the formation of a Task Force to make recommendations on expanding early college and other post-secondary education opportunities for high school students. Creation of the Task Force builds on the Governor’s campaign calls last year for a five-year high school concept.

The 19-member Task Force, 15 of which are appointed by the Governor, include representatives from higher education, K-12 education, teacher and other associations, is charged with surveying existing early college opportunities in Maine’s high schools, reviewing research and efforts in other states and internationally, including the funding models for those efforts, and making recommendations for solutions that can be funded within existing resources. Four members will be legislators.

“The bottom line is that we have many early college high school opportunities in place, but we don’t have any systematic approach to making them available to students,” said Governor LePage. “We need to give students some clear options that will encourage them to enter post-secondary education and give them the start they need.”

Education is key to individuals’ future success, as well as that of Maine’s economy, Governor LePage said, noting that in less than a decade, nearly 60 percent of jobs in Maine will require at least some amount of college education.

“If we can’t get more of our students to complete high school and earn degrees, we won’t have the workforce required to meet the needs of a 21st-century technology- and knowledge-driven economy,” he said.

Governor LePage believes giving students more options for a seamless transition to post-secondary education will reduce the high school dropout rate and better prepare students for success in post-secondary education – whether that is a university, community college, technical training or the military.

One problem the Governor hopes to address is the high rate of students who enter college unprepared for college-level courses. A quarter of all students entering Maine’s public university system and 47 percent of those entering the community college system needed remedial courses. Evidence has shown that engaging students in learning they see as relevant to their futures reduces the rate of students dropping out and improves achievement.

Maine already offers opportunities for high school students to earn college or other post-secondary credits while still in high school. Some students enroll in college courses at a nearby campus or online during their junior and senior years of high school, with the cost covered by the State and the university or college. Students at the United Technologies Center, a career and technical high school in Bangor, can earn community college credits for dozens of courses in food service preparation, automotive repair, computer technology and other areas. Maine’s community colleges have an Early College for Me program in 74 high schools, designed to help high school students transition to college.

“We have many of the tools, but we haven’t done a good job of making them available to all students, and of helping students see the full spectrum of opportunities,” Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen said. “We are working hard to make high school more relevant and more engaging for students through a standards-based, student-focused approach that allows more flexibility in how students learn. This is part of that. I want every Maine high school student, from their freshman year, to know they have options beyond high school and give them the tools to reach those aspirations.”

The Task Force is expected to submit a report to the Governor and to the Legislature’s Education Committee by December 1, 2011.

Executive Order Text

July 26, 2011

AN ORDER ESTABLISHING THE GOVERNOR’S TASK FORCE ON EXPANDING EARLY POST-SECONDARY ACCESS FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS IN MAINE

WHEREAS, the jobs of Maine’s future will require a highly educated workforce;

WHEREAS, Maine trails the national average with regard to the percent of its working-age population who possess post-secondary degrees or credentials;

WHEREAS, research suggests that students taking an early post-secondary course in high school are more likely to enroll in post-secondary education and complete a degree or credential; and

WHEREAS, Maine’s students should have the widest possible access to early post-secondary opportunities;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Paul R. LePage, Governor of the State of Maine, hereby order as follows:

1.     The Governor’s Task Force on Expanding Early Post-Secondary Access for High School Students in Maine (“task force”) is hereby established.

2.     The membership of the task force shall consist of nineteen (19) persons as follows:

a.              Fifteen (15) members, appointed by the Governor to serve at his pleasure:

i.     Commissioner of Education, ex officio, or designee, as Chair;

ii.     The Chancellor of the University of Maine System, ex officio, or designee;

iii.     The President of the Maine Community College System, ex officio, or designee;

iv.     Two (2) representatives of private colleges or universities in Maine;

v.     Two (2) representatives of private non-profit organizations that work on improving educational opportunities for Maine students;

vi.     Eight (8) members, one (1) each from the following organizations:

1.     Maine Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators;

2.     Maine College Admissions Association;

3.     Maine School Boards Association;

4.     Maine School Superintendents Association;

5.     Maine Administrators of Career and Technical Education;

6.     Maine Adult Education Association;

7.     Maine Principals Association; and

8.     Maine Education Association;

b.              Two (2) Senators, appointed by the President of the Senate to serve at his pleasure; and

c.              Two (2) Representatives, appointed by the Speaker of the House to serve at his pleasure.

The task force shall meet at the call of the Chair.  All members shall serve without compensation.  The Department of Education shall provide appropriate staff to assist the task force.

  1. The purpose of the task force is to develop recommendations for short-term and long-term solutions to expand access to early post-secondary opportunities for Maine’s high school students. The task force must identify existing barriers to access and provide recommendations for removing those barriers and for expanding access to early post-secondary opportunities, including necessary implementing legislation.  The duties of the task force include, but are not limited to:

a.              Undertaking a survey of Maine’s high schools and colleges to determine the existing availability of early post-secondary opportunities in Maine’s high schools;

b.              Reviewing the various approaches by which early post-secondary opportunities are made available to students;

c.              Reviewing the research related to early post-secondary opportunities for high school students in other states and internationally, to include how such opportunities are funded; and

d.              Developing short-term and long-term solutions to expand access to early post-secondary opportunities for Maine’s high school students, to include recommendations for how such opportunities may be funded within existing resources.

  1. The Task Force shall submit a written report with recommendations to the Governor and the Joint Standing Committees on Education and Cultural Affairs no later than December 1, 2011, after which the Task Force shall dissolve.

The effective date of this Executive Order is July 26, 2011.

                                                           

                                                                                                   Paul R. LePage, Governor

One response to “New task force to focus on educational opportunities for Maine students

  1. Lee G. Lehto (English teacher, Deer Isle Stontington High School

    Great idea. Why are there no high school teachers or students on the task force?

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