The Blue Ribbon Commission to Reform Public Education Funding and Improve Student Performance is now underway, after enactment by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Paul LePage. It is now recorded into statue as PUBLIC Law, Chapter 389, LD 1641.
The Commission will meet on June 6 at Oxford Hills High School and the meeting will be open to the public. All documents presented at these meetings can be found here.
“There are several macro trends we need to address,” says Commission Chair Bill Beardsley. “In the past 15 years, state funding formula expenses for public PreK–12 education have risen by 51 percent; local expenditures on public PreK–12 education have risen by 75 percent while total PreK–12 education enrollments have fallen by 34,000 to about 178,000 students. At the same time, while Maine remains slightly above national average in student achievement in ELA/literacy and mathematics, the income achievement gap across Maine remains large. Students in wealthier schools and counties, in terms of family income, have significantly higher academic achievement than students in lower income schools and counties.”
Beardsley goes on, “An exceptional groups of leaders, representing varied perspectives are joined together on the Commission to seek out areas of consensus on what the higher order challenge, the higher order outcome, and if possible, consensus strategies to achieve these outcomes. At the outset, all agree that in an informal way, an objective is to do which is in the best interest of Maine children.”
The membership of the Blue Ribbon Commission include:
- Deputy Education Commissioner and chair Bill Beardsley
- Senator Garrett P. Mason (R) of Senate District 17 is the Senate Majority Leader
- Senator Justin L. Alfond (D) of Senate District 8 is the Senate Minority Leader
- Representative Sara Gideon (D) of House District 106 is the Assistant Majority Leader
- Representative Kenneth W. Fredette (R) of House District 25 is the House Minority Leader
- Jana F. LaPoint, a member of the State Board of Education
- Tayla Edlund, the 2016 Maine Teacher of the Year
- Michael Wilhelm, a member of the Maine Charter School
- Robert T. Callahan, director of the Lewiston Regional Technical Center
- Douglas Larlee, an educator of 40 years
- Joshua Reny, the assistant city manager of South Portland
- Richard P. Colpitts, Superintendent of Schools for SAD 17
- James H. Page, Chancellor of the University of Maine System
- Derek P. Langhauser, President of the Maine Community College System
Per LD 1641, the Commission will submit a report to the Governor and the legislature’s Joint Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs.