Category Archives: From the Commissioner

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.

Continue reading

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

Adult education offers something for everyone

Acting Commissioner Rier speaks at Adult Education Day at the Maine State House.

Acting Commissioner Rier speaks at Adult Education Day at the Maine State House.

Last week I had the honor to speak at the annual Adult Education State House Day on behalf of the Maine DOE and Governor Paul LePage.

I was fortunate to talk with several students who had powerful stories to share about how their commitment to bettering themselves through learning is not just improving their college and career prospects, but enriching their lives and that of their families.

Adult education offers something for everyone. Continue reading

Moving forward to serve you

This week, Governor LePage notified the State Board of Education that he would like to nominate me as his permanent Education Commissioner.

While most gubernatorial Commissioner appointments go directly to the legislative committee of jurisdiction, State statute requires the Governor’s nomination for Education Commissioner be first reviewed by the State Board of Education. Continue reading

Grading system top DOE news of 2013

We hope you enjoyed the holidays and some well-deserved down time to recharge for the New Year. As our Department looks forward to serving you in 2014, we also wanted to reflect back on our work from a very busy past 12 months.

Of the nearly 600 items posted in our Maine DOE Newsroom in 2013, not surprisingly our release about Maine’s first school report cards was the most viewed item, with related posts taking up several of the other top traffic spots. Continue reading


Happy Holidays From Your Maine DOE