Rep. Brian Bolduc, D-Auburn, wants Maine’s Franco-American history to be included in the state’s school learning curriculum.

Currently, the state’s directive to teachers fails to mention anything about Maine’s French cultural history, says Bolduc. He hopes Gov. Paul LePage will support efforts to include Franco-American studies in the state’s school curriculum.

Bolduc, 36, grew up in New Auburn. He is a certified teacher and a Franco-American. He submitted a bill titled “An Act to Include the Study of Franco-American History in the System of Learning Results” (LD 77).  A public hearing on the bill is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday at the State House by the Joint Standing Committee for Education and Cultural Affairs. A committee vote on the bill will be scheduled later.

A similar bill submitted by Bolduc in 2010 came close to passing.

“Last year was a very close floor vote,” says Bolduc. “It came to within 2-3 votes of passing in the House.”

An endorsement by Maine’s Franco-American governor might help Bolduc’s bill to pass, he says.

“I would be very honored if Governor LePage would appear at the public hearing to support this bill,” says Bolduc. In fact, the governor said he would support an education bill that endorses teaching Franco-American history when he was a candidate running for governor, says Bolduc.

Rep. Alan Casavant, D-Biddeford, is also a Franco-American and a teacher. Casavant says he will support Bolduc’s bill.

“I supported the bill last year and will absolutely do so again when it comes to the House for a vote,” he says.

Rita Dube is a Franco-American and executive director of the Franco-American Heritage Center in Lewiston. She supports Bolduc’s work to pass the education bill. Dube grew up speaking French.

“Teaching Franco-American history is important because the subject is also about our history as Americans. Our ancestors came to Maine to find economic opportunity,” she says.

“We came close to passing this bill last year,” says Dube. “I hope we can finally see the bill become law,” she says.

Maine’s French history is aligned with American history beginning with French fishermen and trappers who arrived in the area in the 16th century.  In 1604, Sieur de Mons and Samuel de Champlain established the St. Croix Island colony, located near Calais in the St. Croix River, which is the state’s border with New Brunswick, Canada. The site is now an international historic park.

Maine was included in the territory called Acadia or New France during the era of French colonial expansion. Later, tens of thousands French-speaking people from the Province of Quebec came to Maine to find work during the 19th and 20th centuries, when the Industrial Revolution attracted labor for textile and shoe mills. Maine’s ethnic heritage is 25 percent French, according to statistics from the 2010 census.

Barry Rodrigue, an associate professor at the University of Southern Maine, says Maine’s Franco-American history is part of the state’s geographic and political heritage.

“Franco-American contacts with Canada are better preserved in Maine than other places in the United States,” he says.

JoAnne LeBrun is a retired educator who taught in Lewiston’s St. Dominic Regional High School, now St. Dominic Academy, in Auburn. She says a Franco-American humanities class was taught when she was teaching at St. Dom’s.

“I wrote a lengthy letter to the Education Committee last year about the Franco-American course we started at St. Dom’s,” she says.

Information about Bolduc’s education bill LD 77 is available by e-mailing him at  [email protected].