The Aug. 2 commentary by Washington Post education reporter Valerie Strauss, on the lack of discussion of K-12 education in the four debates among Democratic presidential candidates, stimulated a similar thought about Maine’s lack of attention to education.

For 2018-19, Maine K-12 education funding was $1.297 billion. In terms of employment, that pays for somewhere around 15,000 classroom teachers; add to that superintendents, principals, educational technicians, bus drivers, school lunch personnel, et al., and I suspect there are nearly 30,000 people employed in K-12 education in Maine. That is a significant employment sector.

Yet look for an “education” tab at the Portland Press Herald online, and you find none there. The newsroom staff directory lists news, business, sports and feature reporters, but no education reporters despite education being a $1.297 billion endeavor, with a significant employment base, that affects every child and parent in the state. Only if you drill down under “News Reporters” do you finally see an education reporter listed.

It is similar for the Bangor Daily News – no education tab. No listing under “Sections,” either, although there is an education archive.

This year Maine students competed spectacularly well at the International Science and Engineering Fair. They won best in category awards, brought home cash prizes in the thousands of dollars and did much better than students from Massachusetts. Only one Maine media outlet had a short piece on this, despite the organizers sending repeated news releases to all outlets.

Ms. Strauss is right – one of the country’s most important civic institutions is being ignored. There is next to zero coverage of national or state K-12 education despite its huge impact on the economy and future.

The bright spot is that the current administration at the Maine Department of Education has crowdsourced Maine schools sharing success stories. Maine news outlets could, at the very least, reprint those articles.

Tom Keller


Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: