October 29, 2010

Gubernatorial candidates address education

(Continued from page 2)

 

Yes. Special education standards are not applied uniformly - one student placed in a special education in one school district would not be eligible in another district. We need to ensure that students with special needs get the services they need, but we need to apply common sense to the way we allocate those services.

 

Do you believe the state should reach 55 percent in GPA funding? If yes, how long expect to get there and if no, what's the appropriate level of state funding?

 

The 55 percent funding formula is not a realistic goal or we would have already achieved it. You can actually dispirit an organization by setting unrealistic goals. I recommend taking the average of last five years of spending for education, add a percent or two, and use that realistic and achievable goal for education funding.

 

Is Maine's current per pupil spending too much, too little or just the right amount?

 

It's hard to argue that we're spending too little on K-12 education, since Maine is spending 25 percent more than the national average per student. Meanwhile, test scores are dropping, 63 percent of eighth graders failed reading proficiency standards and the drop-out rate is increasing. Most important is the question of whether we are getting our money's worth.

 

Do you support collecting students' Social Security Numbers to help develop Maine's longitudinal data system? Why or why not?

 

I'm not sure. I want to examine this issue more closely to see if there is a better way to track students. I agree that there is a need for better data regarding where our students go once they leave high school, either by graduating or dropping out. But turning over social security numbers to another state agency to enable it access personal information bothers me.

 

Should there be consolidation between the University of Maine System and the Maine Community College System? What do you think it should be?

 

I agree that there can be more consolidation of administrative functions between the two systems, but I do not favor a complete merger. The two systems have very different missions and it has not been demonstrated that a merger would achieve any real savings. We need to collaborate, not compete, by consolidating low enrollment classes and providing appropriate capacity for enrollment in classes that are matched to available jobs.

 

 

Eliot Cutler on Education

 

1. Do you support creating a charter school system in Maine?

 

Yes. Those children for whom traditional public school is not productive need another option. I will push for legislation that will permit the charter of innovative, autonomous public schools as alternatives to our regular public schools. Recent studies show that charter schools work, and that they often foster dramatic and positive changes in the quality and delivery of cost effective education.

 

2. Do you support initiating a system of merit pay for public school teachers?

 

The present compensation system, a simplistic seniority-based system, makes no distinction between those who teach and lead effectively and nor does it encourage our best and brightest to stay in the teaching profession. I believe that educators, teams of educators and schools that demonstrate their ability to improve student performance ought to be rewarded for their efforts.

 

3. Do you support further administrative reductions in the K-12 public education system? Why or why not?

 

Yes, but only where it makes sense. I do not support forced consolidation. However, with enrollments declining, cost soaring, and student performance lagging, we have to find ways to reduce administrative costs and re-invest savings in those things that will improve student achievement, such as preschool education,professional development for teachers, better compensation, and a longer school year.

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Shawn Moody,  Eliot Cutler, Paul LePage, Kevin Scott, Libby Mitchell
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AP

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