Gov. LePage and Commissioner Bowen hold joint news conference on education

Governor LePage and Commissioner Bowen discuss educational system

Governor LePage and Commissioner Bowen answer questions about Maine’s rankings in a recent education study released by Harvard University.

The following is a news release from the Office of Gov. Paul LePage.

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul LePage and Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen held a joint media conference today in the Cabinet Room at the State Capitol to discuss the results of a recent study released by Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and Governance. Gov. LePage and Commissioner Bowen explained these results and what they mean for Maine. They also 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 fourth and eighth 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 Gov. LePage. “This is a call to action.”

In response to the study’s findings, Gov. 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.”

Gov. 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 Gov. LePage.

To read the Harvard Study in full, go to: http://www.hks.harvard.edu/pepg/PDF/Papers/PEPG12-03_CatchingUp.pdf.

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3 responses to “Gov. LePage and Commissioner Bowen hold joint news conference on education

  1. Will H. Burrow

    Commissioner: I assume you are familiar with the National Math Panel Report (2008). Given the findings of that report that spiral math is ineffective, why has there been no comment on the fact that 80-90 percent of Maine districts rely heavily or exclusively on such programs? The state’s record on math could be dramatically improved if the state pushed the University system and local districts to adopt math practices that were aligned with the recommendations of the Panel. Care to comment?

    • Courtney Yeager

      Will, thanks for your comment. I spoke with Michele Mailhot, our mathematics content specialist at the Department, and here’s what she said:

      “Maine has adopted the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and is currently working toward full implementation of this new set of standards. You can find these standards here.

      “These standards have a greater focus, coherence and rigor than our previous standards. While we are working toward implementation, I am working to support our teachers in understanding and implementing these new standards into their classrooms. There is a focus on best practices throughout this work of implementation. You can find some of the professional development materials that are being used here.

      “In addition to working with our classroom teachers and districts across the state, I am also working with the University and colleges to integrate the Common Core State Standards into their teacher preparation courses.

      “While Maine is a local control state, the Department of Education does not have the authority to recommend one math program over another. All districts determine which program best suits their needs.”

  2. Either I or the Governor is slipping–we agree on this.

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