Category Archives: From the Commissioner

Reminder regional calendars due May 1

Dear CTE Directors and Superintendents,

We are writing to remind you that school administrative units and private schools approved for tuition purposes are expected to establish regional school calendars, in coordination with their local secondary career and technical education school, by May 1.

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Innovative Bridge Year ensures college, career readiness

Yesterday, Governor LePage and I announced the 12 Career and Technical Education (CTE) Centers who will share in $500,000 granted by the Department to support the expansion of the innovative Bridge Year Program.

This funding will allow as many as 225 students to earn approximately two semesters of college credit before they even graduate from high school and develop technical and life skills for success in college, careers and civic life. More importantly, this program reflects an unprecedented collaboration between high schools, CTE centers, higher education and the workforce that will certainly change the lives of these students and the future of our state.  

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Maine DOE recognizes reward schools

Last summer, the Department received approval for an accountability waiver under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). This waiver provides flexibility in meeting federal accountability requirements by allowing Maine to implement its own tiered statewide system of support.

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Preliminary ED 279s coming this month

The Department is very close to completing the creation of the preliminary State subsidy printouts, known as ED 279s. As soon as those are finalized, we will post them on our website and immediately alert superintendents and business managers via a priority notice.

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Commissioner concerned about Medicaid expansion impact on education

2014 marks the 10th anniversary of Mainers voting to require that the State fund 55 percent of the cost of public education. While we in Augusta have worked toward meeting that mandate, we have struggled most years to get to even 50 percent.

Due to other funding priorities – especially those related to health and human services – the Legislature simply cannot come up with the money.

As talk of growing Maine’s Medicaid program again swirls in the State House, I’m often asked for my assessment on the potential effects of expansion on education.

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K-12 should take note of higher ed’s voluntary move to proficiency-based system

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s (UMPI) exciting announcement they would be moving to a proficiency-based system beginning next fall.

Perhaps nothing puts students first more than proficiency-based education. As many of you know, this model is built around the reality that while students learn in different ways and speeds, proficiency is ultimately the most critical outcome of their schooling. Continue reading

Expanded suicide prevention training helps us better support students

All of us share a commitment to ensuring our schools are physically and emotionally safe and supportive places for students to learn and thrive.

That’s why I was so troubled to read in the findings of our latest Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey that 16.8 percent of our middle school students and 14.6 percent of high school students have seriously considered attempting suicide.

As a parent and grandparent, the reality that youth with such incredible potential feel so overwhelmed and helpless deeply saddens me. And as your Commissioner of Education, I want you to know our Department is collaborating with others to take serious steps to help students before they harm themselves. Continue reading

Seeking outstanding educators for 2015 Teacher of the Year

Maine’s students are our future, and it is teachers who prepare them with the skills they’ll need to achieve success.

Each year, the Maine DOE Teacher of the Year program gives us an important opportunity to come together as a state to say ‘thank you’ to our most deserving classroom leaders – like current Teacher of the Year Karen MacDonald, an English language arts teacher at Portland’s King Middle School who is ensuring education is the great equalizer for her students, many who are new to our great country. Continue reading

Through collaboration, teachers, students better supported

Last week, Maine DOE Chief Academic Officer Rachelle Tome and I had the honor of visiting two Lewiston elementary schools undergoing transformation thanks to support from our Department and the federally-funded Title I School Improvement Grant program (SIG). To say I was impressed by what I saw at Longley and Montello would be an understatement. Continue reading

Department provisionally-adopts educator effectiveness rule

I believe that our Department has done more over the last two years than at any other period in our history to ensure there is an effective educator in every classroom and an effective principal in every building.  Continue reading