WATERVILLE – The Maine Coalition for Excellence in Education’s Prepare Maine initiative calls on Mainers to make education a more urgent priority, and law enforcement professionals understand that investing in education now prevents crime and incarceration later.

I am pleased to report that the Maine Sheriffs’ Association strongly supports the effort.

The association includes sheriffs, chief deputies, jail administrators and patrol supervisors from each county, along with other law enforcement professionals, concerned citizens, and companies committed to the detection and prevention of crime.

Our members also participate in charitable, educational and public service programs.

Maine’s sheriffs partner with their communities to prevent crime through programs like D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), Triad (prevention of criminal abuse of senior citizens) and Camp POSTCARD (Police Officers Striving to Create and Reinforce Dreams).

Similarly, we are joining with the Maine Coalition for Excellence in Education, or MCEE, to emphasize education as a strategy to reduce crime and improve Maine’s quality of life.

The coalition’s Prepare Maine initiative starts with the basic idea that we need to prepare our students for the challenges and opportunities in our economy’s future, and that the best way to do that is through a quality education. The initiative emphasizes three goals in this respect:

• All of our young children must have access to quality programs that strengthen their development.

• Public schools must prepare every child for college.

• More Mainers must have the opportunity to earn college degrees and occupational certificates.

Research shows overwhelmingly how providing a quality education leads to better life outcomes. For example, low-income children, those who have access to quality early childhood programs that advance their development are:

• Half as likely to require special education services

• Just 20 percent as likely to become chronic lawbreakers

• 59 percent less likely to be arrested for a violent crime by age 18

• 50 percent more likely to graduate from high school

• Four times as likely to have yearly earnings of more than $24,000

• Three times as likely to attend a four-year college

The disparities are similar for high school graduates, who are eight times less likely to be incarcerated than high school dropouts.

Our experience with Camp POSTCARD, Triad, and D.A.R.E. has shown us how much a community can accomplish when it works together. We agree with MCEE’s determination that we don’t just need better teachers, we need all of the stakeholders in our educational system working in harmony toward a common goal of preparing our children for success.

Several Maine communities have already figured this out. They have used data to determine where their educational systems needed improvement, examined best practices, developed improvement plans with broad community buy-in and followed through on commitments for reform.

The Prepare Maine initiative has already distilled core priorities for reform, based on extensive educational research and on the practical experience of Maine’s communities. These include:

• Quality early learning experiences

• High standards and personalized learning opportunities

• Effective teaching, supported by strong school leadership

• Engaged parents, families and communities

• Use and analysis of reliable data

• Expanded access to college and work force training

• Efficient and equitable use of educational resources

Maine sheriffs are proud of this partnership and will continue to work with business and educational leaders to urge greater focus on educational excellence and community engagement in reform. We will focus on elevating best practices and on ensuring that our educational system prepares everyone for success. 

We invite you to join us.

 

– Special to The Press Herald