February 14, 2013

LePage should stop bullying public education

Letter to the Editor

I read with dismay and disgust the comments Gov. Paul LePage made while visiting children at St. John Catholic School recently.

Surrounded by students, LePage once again spouted off about how inferior Maine's public schools are. LePage told the students they are "... getting the best education, and every child in Maine deserves to have the same good education that you're all getting."

What does he mean by that? That the St. John students get to learn about religion in school? That their teachers do not, by law, have to be certified and highly qualified, like public school teachers? That their school can accept or reject whom they choose, avoiding students with special needs or challenges? How did LePage conclude that those private school students were actually getting a better education or are better readers?

The governor maligned our public education system, saying it's been "stuck in status quo for 20 years." Is he aware that 25 school districts are involved in major reform through the conversion to a standards-based system of learning? This means more than 50,000 students or 27 percent of K-12 students in Maine are involved in comprehensive school reform. Who is stuck?

The governor's a public servant, like teachers and other school employees who work to support the lives of Maine families by providing the best education possible for their children.

Theoretically, he and they are all on the same side, with a common purpose. LePage, however, persists in making an enemy of these workers and has made it his agenda to defame, denigrate and inaccurately describe the state of our public schools and the integrity of their employees.

It's time for him to put down the big club and stop being the bully. Any student knows that's not fair play.

Deb Soifer

South China

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