May 13, 2013

Mike Tipping: School grading system intentionally flawed to achieve a goal

The LePage administration decided ahead of time how many A's, B's, C's, D's and F's it would hand out.

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Professor Emily Shaw's analysis, Digging Deeper

Rep. Brian Hubbell's blog post, Dismantling Maine schools through grading and 'choice'

Staff Writer Colin Woodard's Special Report: The profit motive behind virtual schools in Maine

As for why this is part of their agenda, look no further than the great series of articles in this newspaper written by Colin Woodard detailing the web of money and influence behind LePage's education agenda.

As Woodard revealed, for-profit education companies are spending heavily to lobby in Augusta for privatizing portions of Maine's education infrastructure. They're also working through lobbying and advocacy organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council to influence and even write word for word large parts of the governor's education policies.

The influence of these private companies began even before the governor was elected. K12 Inc., a Virginia-based virtual school corporation that is hoping to profit from siphoning off Maine's public education dollars, gave $19,000 through a political action committee in 2010 to support LePage's election.

There are big problems with LePage's school ranking system. It doesn't measure enough factors, it doesn't control for income, it assigns grades on an arbitrary curve and it does nothing to show how well teachers and school administrators are actually doing their jobs.

You might think that these problems mean that the system doesn't work, but by looking deeper we can see that it's working exactly as it was designed: to denigrate public schools and serve a corporate and political agenda.

Mike Tipping is a political junkie who blogs at and works for the Maine People's Alliance and the Maine People's Resource Center. He can be contacted at: Twitter: @miketipping

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