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Home > MSMA News > Commission brainstorms changes to public education – August 30, 2016

Commission brainstorms changes to public education – August 30, 2016

The governor’s blue ribbon commission on public education had its first open meeting on Monday, where participants suggested major changes to the system, including a statewide teachers’ contract; making teachers state employees and putting them into the state’s health plan; raising teacher pay and tying it to student outcomes; and, universal pre-K.

Other proposals included consolidating secondary education to provide more opportunities for students in the upper grades; making sure the Department of Education (DOE) has sufficient resources to do its work; and, understanding whether proficiency-based learning – the center of the new graduation standards passed earlier this year – is accepted statewide.

Sen. Justin Alfond, D-Cumberland, a commission member, suggested the state adopt and build on former Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen’s 2012 plan for education as a blueprint for today. That plan tied proficiency-based teaching, learning and assessment to strong state standards.

There also were calls for simplifying the Essential Programs and Services (EPS) funding formula; allowing more high school students to take college-level and Career and Technical Education courses; and, regionalizing public school central office functions.

To follow the ongoing work of the commission, officially known as the Commission to Reform Public Education Funding and Improve Student Performance in Maine, click here.

The commission was created this past session by legislation that also increased General Purpose Aid to schools by $15 million on top of what already had been promised as part of the biennial budget the year before. Its first meeting was held at the Blaine House behind closed doors – a move that ultimately was ruled illegal by the Attorney General’s Office.

The commission on Monday voted unanimously to pay the fine for the illegal meeting when the case comes up in court again in September. An intentional violation of the open meeting law carries with it a civil penalty of up to $500.

Gov. LePage no longer attends the meetings and has named Acting Deputy Commissioner William Beardsley as his designee. Former Superintendent Robert Hasson, director of certification for the DOE, has taken over as chair.

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