My Maine View: Paul LePage Vs. Education in Maine

The never ending comedy tour that is the Paul LePage administration shows no signs of slowing down. The governor, whenever you think he might be settling down, that he might have decided that sticking his thumb in the eye of his political opponents is not a good way to get things done, comes out with another proposal to hurt Maine and Maine people.

One thing that has to be clear to anyone watching is that our Governor has a mindset to destroy education, in the form of public schools, in this state. His assaults on education are too numerous to list but it is very apparent that in a Paul LePage world there would be nothing taught that could not be tested in a black and white way. Teachers would be nothing more than cogs in a machine. A friend of mine teaches freshman English at a school in Southern Maine. This young man spent five years of his life to get a Masters Degree. He loves his job, is wonderful with his students, I would love for my children to be taught by a teacher with his passion. He tells me, though, that three years in he feels beaten down. Not by the job, not by the students, but by the constant vilifying of teachers from our state government. He raises a good point. Who, in their right mind, would ever suggest their child becomes a teacher? Teachers were once respected and appreciated. When a state is led by a man that never misses an opportunity to bash them it becomes apparent that becoming a teacher is no longer a good choice for their future. My wife is a teacher and I have to say she is fantastic. She loves her kids, she makes a difference in their lives everyday. Still, because she is so good at what she does, when teachers have their salary and tenure determined by test scores she will be faced with a choice. As it is now she often works with kids that need the most help. In the LePage world were she to do that she would be penalized for doing so as the test scores of her students might well be lower than others.

We all understand how the world works. At my company if when deciding to assign a tough job I have to choose between someone who will do a great job and not need my help or someone who will do a good job and need lots of help I will pick the former. The problem is that the latter person, who is not as talented, will by having been given easier assignments, if judged by a simplistic metric, might well be rated higher. Only a subjective knowledge of the work being done would allow for a fair rating. This is what will be missing with teachers when you use test scores to determine their success. There will be no context.

Another point that has to be made is that when school districts are having a constant struggle to maintain their budgets, is that, without tenure, our older teachers, more experienced and thus those with the highest salaries, will be easy targets for the administration. Look lip service can be paid to providing the best teachers but in a Paul LePage world where tenure does not apply there will soon be no such thing as 15 or 20 year teachers. Faced with having three average teachers or two great ones schools will have little choice. As budgets shrink it becomes strictly a numbers game.

I do not pretend to have the answers on education. What I do know is that nothing that Paul LePage advocates is designed with the best interest of students or teachers in mind. It has one goal and that is to starve education of funding. The hypocrisy of those in government stating that education is our future and then whenever there is a shortfall making education the piggybank to break is unbelievable.

And now the Governor wants to create a slush fund from monies in the education budget  to use for legal defense of the administration from, one assumes, anticipated legal challenges. It would be funny if it were not so sad.

Mr, Cutler, Mr. Michaud, please sit down and decide who is going to run for Governor. Maine students and Maine teachers, Maine people in general, simply cannot afford another LePage administration.