In justifying his destructive cuts to the public education budget, Gov. Paul LePage said during his recent State of the State address: “We do not need more money for education – we need more accountability in education.”

As usual, the truth is 180 degrees in opposition to his rhetoric. Maine school districts have worked hard to establish and implement accountability measures for their faculties with the enthusiastic cooperation of teachers’ unions. What we have is crumbling school buildings and grounds and a growing need for more sophisticated technology, along with assessment tools that actually measure what we’re trying to measure (validity) accurately (reliability). These things cost money to implement and repair.

To compound matters, the governor has over his two terms shifted more of the responsibility for education onto shoulders of property tax payers at the municipal level while he simultaneously reduces the municipal revenue sharing. Local taxpayers are hit from both sides as the towns and schools are provided with less money to keep our communities whole.

He is even dragging his heels on implementing the Question 2 provisions, while the Legislature has yet to fulfill the promises of the referendums passed a decade ago that public education should be funded by the state at 55 percent of its annual costs.

Maine public schools need to be supported financially and socially in order to stem the slide into mediocrity. We had been advancing steadily into the 21st century until this governor arrived to undermine our efforts. Now we are not only stagnating, but also falling behind. I urge the Legislature to reject the governor’s budget.

John M. Flagler


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