July 27, 2012

Maine students to LePage: Our educations prepared us

The governor said Maine students who go to college are "looked down upon" because of a poor education, but graduates say that's not true.

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Today's poll: 'If you come from Maine ...'

Do you agree with Gov. LePage that “if you come from Maine, you're looked down upon” ?

Yes

No

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Jackie Richio said, “I’m proud of my state and the education I got there.”

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Benjamin Kissin, 22, of Freeport, said “In some cases, I was more prepared" by his Maine education.

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LePage's spokeswoman, Adrienne Bennett, did not return several phone calls Thursday for information on the basis for the governor's claim.

Admission directors at Bowdoin College in Brunswick and Colby College in Waterville, who interact regularly with students from Maine and other states from across the country, also disputed LePage's comments.

"I would say (the governor's) statement is patently false," said Steve Thomas at Colby. "If what he said is true, no Maine kids would be going to college out of state. They would all stay here. That's not the case. And other schools want Maine kids."

Thomas also said Maine students at Colby regularly out-perform students from other states.

Steve Meiklejohn, dean of admissions and financial aid at Bowdoin, agreed that Maine students are no more or less prepared than students from other states.

"What we look at is 'Are they doing the most with the opportunities that are available to them, knowing that they don't all have access to the same opportunities,' " he said.

There are many different types of standardized testing, so it's often difficult to rank states on student achievement. Average SAT scores in Maine in 2001 were slightly below the national average, but for seniors, the average was actually higher than the national figure. Additionally, Maine requires all high school juniors to take the SATs; other states do not.

Opponents are accusing the governor of using any excuse he can to continue pushing a radical education reform agenda. Aside from his comment about Mainers being "looked down upon," critics say the data LePage and Bowen used from the Harvard study is flawed. It's true that Maine has not seen its test scores increase as much as other states, they say, but Maine's scores were higher to begin with, so there was less room for improvement.

Monnica Chan, director of policy and research for the New England Board of Higher Education, said all states are grappling with remediation rates and student performance. She said Maine is no better or worse than any other state.

"In fact, Maine has been a leader in some areas, especially in competency-based education," she said.

 -- Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers contributed to this story.

 

Staff Writer Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

erussell@mainetoday.com

 

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Riley McCarthy said, “I don’t feel like people judge you" because you're from Maine.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer

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Alana Gregoire said, “I think it’s no different than (being educated in) any other state."

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer

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Ashley Graffam said, “I feel like I was prepared to go to college.”

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer

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Gov. Paul LePage

Gregory Rec / Staff Photographer

  


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Today's poll: 'If you come from Maine ...'

Do you agree with Gov. LePage that “if you come from Maine, you're looked down upon” ?

Yes

No

View Results