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Public Statements

Issue Position: Education

Issue Position

By:
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1. Make Education an Economic Development Priority.
2. Reduce Administrative Costs; Redirect Savings into Classrooms.
3. Institute Innovative Learning Reforms without Additional Spending.

There are three lasting gifts we can give our children: unconditional love, a moral compass, and the best education possible. The happiness and well-being of our kids are directly related to their education. Once acquired, it can never be lost. It's their ticket to higher income, better health, and more fulfilling lives. Businesses want to hire educated workers, skilled and eager to contribute. An improved state education system will help build a better economy. Within limited resources, our state government should do everything possible to provide the best education for our citizens.

At least 47 cents of every taxpayer dollar spent by our state government goes to education. That's $2.9 billion in the proposed 2010-11 biannual budget.[1] Maine has the 7th highest cost per student in the country to educate our K-12 population, higher than every other rural state except Vermont. However, our high school graduation rate is average, and our college enrollment is below average.[2] Roughly 40% of our community college freshmen take remedial courses because they are not ready for college. Maine taxpayers are spending plenty on education, but our students are receiving a sub-par experience.

"There are three lasting gifts we can give our children: unconditional love, a moral compass, and the best education possible."

Competent management in Augusta can save taxpayer money while improving our schools. For example, a big challenge is retaining and attracting the most proficient teachers for our kids. Great teachers inspire our students. When that happens, student performance soars. There are many successful models across the country which objectively measure in-class teaching skills and student achievement, and reward teachers accordingly. During March 2009, I met with the architect of the teacher compensation program at the Denver Public School System. Denver parents, administrators, and teachers together designed and implemented an innovative program to better reward inspiring teachers, and also to save money.

The global consulting firm McKinsey & Company has identified other reforms to strengthen our education system and save taxpayer money. They include standardized diagnosis for special needs students; consolidated negotiation of some system-wide contracts; reduction of administrative overhead; and more sharing of resources across school districts.[3]

There are plenty of opportunities to better coordinate the needs of Maine industries with our Community College and University programs. With sound management from our state government, we can better prepare our young for college and the workplace while also saving taxpayer money.

"As Governor, I will lead the effort to advance the educational experience for our students within the reality of our limited resources."

Maine is one of only ten states which doesn't allow state-funded charter schools. Across the country, charter schools have proven extremely successful in providing a better education for millions of students, while often saving money. Their flexibility fosters innovation in teaching and learning which other schools might adopt to better help our kids. Maine students should be given the same opportunities as other children across the nation.

During my Waterville years and beyond, I worked hard to get the best education I could. I'm a product of both public and private schools. I understand and appreciate the benefits and shortcomings of both. As Governor, I will lead the effort to advance the educational experience for our students within the reality of our limited resources.

Footnotes
[1] Maine Governor's Office
[2] EPE Research Center; HigherEdInfo.org; United States Census Bureau
[3] Maine Governor's Office


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