Tony Payne’s recent column doesn’t pass the straight face test (“Education must drive Maine’s economy” April 18).

Mr. Payne, executive director of the pro-business Alliance for Maine’s Future, says he wants to create a highly skilled workforce to support Maine’s economic growth.

But to do that Payne suggests cutting funding for public education by more than $460 million and gutting school programs by drastically reducing the numbers of teachers and support staff. To save even more money, he would also dramatically curtail special education programs.

Evidently, Payne thinks the same free market approaches that made Goldman Sachs and Enron so successful can be applied to public education. Or, perhaps he just borrowed Bernie Madoff’s accountants to come up with this solution for improving our schools.

I would like to see Payne explain to the parents in Portland, Augusta or Caribou how he can improve their children’s education by cutting their school budget by 25 percent and laying off more than one-third of the staff. Or, how special needs children will reach their full potential by having fewer services.

His column has nothing to do with education or improving student learning. In fact, his article has nothing to do with providing a skilled work force for Maine business.

His mish-mash of a message is just a sorry repetition of the distorted statistics presented by other TABOR and tax cap proponents in the past.

They simply don’t add up and, fortunately, Maine voters have rejected them over and over again.


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