Thursday, December 5, 2013
Gov. LePage's recent complaint that the rate of improvement in the scores of Maine's schoolchildren is too low is totally misleading to the public and is cruel to Maine's dedicated teachers.
Gov. Paul LePage is using a flawed report to “justify punishing districts with payments for remedial courses,” a reader writes.
2011 file photo/Gregory Rec
The governor's criticisms are akin to claiming that Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte are failing the U.S. Olympic effort because the improvements in their performance times have been minimal or nonexistent over the past four years.
The academic achievement levels of Maine's schoolchildren have consistently ranked among the nation's top 10 states for many years, a totally admirable record for a state of limited means.
Why, then, would Maine's governor denigrate the successful efforts of his own educators? Could it be that they are public employees whose livelihoods entail the expenditure of state-budgeted funds and whose votes the governor is prepared to scorn as he seeks to improve upon his mandate of 38 percent?
Maine's educators are striving. They provide challenging, crucial services. They will continue to strive and succeed with Maine's children, particularly as they receive public understanding and support!
Thomas K. Edwards
As a member of the board of School Administrative District 60, I noted your article "LePage: High schools should pay for graduates' remedial college classes" (July 25) and the Harvard report that Gov. LePage cites.
Writing solely for myself, your article overlooked key facts and contradictions.
• First, the report's premise seems flawed. It was produced by Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, which focuses on governmental and international relations -- not educational practices -- to compare U.S. test performance against other countries' in order to gauge global U.S. leadership.
The fact that the U.S. has been the world's leading economic and military power despite never having led the world in test scores is lost on the authors of the Harvard report.
• Second, the report's objectivity is suspect. The named funding sources are supporters of libertarian groups that promote privatizing government services.
• Third, the authors don't explain why we should believe their statistical methods, and they don't explain the reasons for the differences among the state test scores.
Yet Gov. LePage uses this flawed report to justify punishing districts with payments for remedial courses and taking control of and privatizing public schools.
He complains about spending, but he ignores how we rank near the bottom of teacher pay and that the districts have ever-increasing costs for special education and other overhead while losing more state and federal funding every year. How do we increase our rate of improvement under these conditions?
Instead of an answer, he demands distance learning and charter schools, although these are no better -- and are often worse -- than public schools.
These proposals show our governor is no conservative; he is clearly pushing a radical privatizing educational agenda, regardless of the effects on Maine's children.
I hope the public and Legislature see this charade for what it is and put a stop to the wanton destruction of our public schools.
Reader offers way MTA could avoid toll increase
As I review the numbers, I have a tough time understanding why the Maine Turnpike Authority must raise tolls by more than 21 percent. The numbers are:
• 109 miles of road
• 400 employees (3.67 employees per mile)
• More than $100 million in toll revenue a year
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