Commissioner’s Update – March 22, 2012

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Maine legislators took a major step yesterday afternoon toward passing a bill that goes to the heart of improving our schools: effective teaching and school leadership.

In a unanimous vote, the Legislature’s Education Committee passed LD 1858, An Act to Ensure Effective Teaching and School Leadership. The bill next goes before the full Legislature.

The bill requires that school districts adopt fair and constructive performance evaluations for teachers and principals in alignment with criteria to be developed by the Department of Education in collaboration with Maine educators through a formalized Maine Educator Effectiveness Council.

The bill also takes steps to make sure our teachers are better prepared for the classroom by making improvements to teacher preparation programs and by strengthening requirements that our elementary-level teachers have math and literacy content knowledge as part of their certification.

The process that led to yesterday’s Education Committee vote illustrated how the legislative process and involvement of stakeholders can improve the quality of a proposal like this.

As a result of concerns raised during last week’s public hearing on the legislation by the Maine Education Association and others, we suggested additional language to protect teachers from evaluations made in bad faith and strengthened the provisions that assure our educators many seats at the table when it comes to developing criteria for teacher and principal evaluations. The MEA told the committee the amendment addressed their concerns.

I’m excited not only by the potential for this legislation to improve education for our students, but by how well our legislative process worked.

— Stephen Bowen



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NEWS & VIEWS

Bowen lauds Ed Committee vote on teacher effectiveness

AUGUSTA – The Legislature’s Education Committee voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of LD 1858, a bill that would require schools to adopt teacher and principal evaluation systems. “Of all the education bills this session, this one has the potential to positively impact education more than any other,” said Commissioner Bowen. | More

Three schools to represent Maine at innovation conference

Teachers and administrators from Deer Isle-Stonington High School, Hall-Dale Middle/High School and Westbrook High School will represent Maine today and tomorrow at a regional conference in Massachusetts focused on high school innovation. The school representatives will discuss approaches they’ve taken to improve teaching, increase student engagement and lower dropout and course failure rates. | More

2012 STEM Summit: Closing the skills gap an economic imperative

Teachers, administrators and business community members turned “awareness” of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM, disciplines into “engagement” on Tuesday at the 2012 Maine STEM Summit. The more than 350 in attendance discussed how they could involve Maine’s middle- and high-school students in tackling the energy, medicine and engineering challenges of today and tomorrow. | More

Charter School Commission schedules more public input sessions

The Maine State Charter School Commission will travel to Aroostook and Washington counties in early April to hear from the public about regional educational needs that could be addressed by charter schools. The commission will hold sessions in Presque Isle and Machias. | More

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