August 4, 2013

Letters to the editor: Looming hospital closure deplored

(Continued from page 1)

Referencing the July 21 article "Maine schools' shift to tougher standards will come with costs": Maine's Common Core Standards also benefit the business community by better ensuring a skilled workforce that can compete in our global economy.

The business community was very much involved in developing the standards because they are integral to reversing a looming "skills gap" across our state.

According to a report from the business leaders group America's Edge, Maine needs at least an additional 15,000 high-skilled workers if it is going to be able to fill the jobs of the future. Experts anticipate gaps in business and finance, computer and math, architecture, engineering and the skilled trades as well.

Maine's standards are rigorous learning objectives and goals that will help students become college- and career-ready upon high school graduation. These standards were designed to develop skills businesses need and now expect -- communication, collaboration and critical thinking -- as well as a mastery of core academic content.

The standards are coupled with aligned assessments, which will allow educators to determine how students are doing and use that information to better prepare students for success.

The future of Maine's businesses and economy depends upon the caliber of our workforce. Let us make sure we equip our students with the critical skills for these jobs in the future through support for Maine's Common Core Standards and aligned assessments.

Ed Cervone

president and CEO, Maine Development Foundation

Augusta

To me, a teacher with 25 years' experience, the Common Core Standards appear to be thorough and effective.

The problem is that the U.S. Education Department continues to believe that by making great standards and testing our students extensively and continually, somehow our student outcomes will improve. (Previously we had Learning Results -- also great standards.) This hasn't worked and it won't work.

If the Common Core Standards are to be used meaningfully, there needs to be intensive, quality training to help teachers understand the foundations and learn the new teaching strategies for these standards. This is a dramatic curriculum shift, and to simply say, "It is in place and now we'll test everyone" is ludicrous.

Funding would be much more effectively spent on teacher training than constant testing. Standards to become a teacher should be made more demanding. Teachers make the most critical difference in each child's education, no matter what the standards or the curriculum are.

If our education system first committed itself to democratizing public education, learning would improve dramatically and rather quickly.

The difference in the learning experiences of students between rich and poor towns is stark. Funding needs to be changed from property taxes to state taxes so that children in every part of the state have access to equivalent educational opportunities.

Improving education by improving teacher education and democratizing schools would not make anyone profits, so we will continue to spend billions on expensive tests that educational corporations are happy to create. Then these same companies will develop and sell expensive curricula that will teach to the tests for us.

Spending our time and resources on testing is only benefiting corporations. Business as usual.

Valerie Razsa

Gray

Bleak coverage overlooks all that seniors do for state

Your special report July 21 describing Maine's oldest-state status as a "predicament" ("A special report: The challenge of our age") was depressing, demeaning and absorbed with aging issues common in every state.

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