For the health of our state we need to turn the page on cultural insensitivity

The insensitivity toward cultures other than his own demonstrated by Governor Le Page’s February 11th ‘joke’ at the expense of a Chinese man and name perfectly illustrates the need for more World Language and Global Education in Maine. To begin with, in an era when the demographics and economy of the state are changing, and […]

Guide to a cheaper fix for schools

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Roland Barth, leading writer on education, suggests that a key ingredient to improving schools is regular, school-focused, honest, mutually respectful conversation between the adults who work in them. Compared to the millions we have spent in this country in the past decade on much more complicated ‘fixes’ (and that have seen dubious success -and that’s […]

Maine’s graduates need to be able to compete on the world stage

Apparently many school districts in Maine are urging that the state drop the World Language graduation requirement of Maine’s LD1422, An Act To Prepare Maine People for the Future Economy, because of the cost of implementation. I believe it is important that we both keep and strengthen this graduation requirement. In a world where the norm among […]

Choosing the path to greater student achievement in Maine

The performance of Maine students on the Smarter Balanced test administered in all schools last spring was mediocre at best in relation to the twelve other states that have released scores at this point. Bangor Daily news reporter Matthew Stone rightly wonders if Mainers should be concerned about this result. I think we should be very […]

Inequitable schooling is cheating our children and our nation

What a child experiences in school over thirteen or fourteen years contributes mightily to the development of that child, and currently American children experience very different things depending on the relative wealth of their neighborhoods. Curriculum matters. A curriculum rich in the arts, music, and foreign languages strengthens and develops the brain. Wealthy parents, because of what most […]

We should not rob our schools of our most creative teachers

We are driving excellent teachers out of the profession with our insistence on measurement and standardized systems of accountability. People who became teachers because they were fascinated by the developing human mind, attracted by the chance to help children reach their potential, engaged by the challenge of fashioning learning experiences that would help children grow […]

We should not squander teacher energy

I have worked in schools where teachers will stand up and leave an important meeting the minute the clock reaches the end-time specified in the contract, and I have worked in schools where teachers voluntarily invest their own time to make their schools better. What determines the attitude of teachers toward their schools? What conditions […]

Losing the best teachers impoverishes schools

The effectiveness of schools rests on the shoulders of teachers, and when we lose the best teachers before retirement age, we diminish the experience of children. I have been disheartened recently to run into two outstanding teachers who resigned their positions quite a few years before they reached retirement age. One of these teachers left her position […]

How to evaluate a school district leader

In the heat of budget travails, as well as in more tranquil times, school board members and school administrators should remember that it is on the backs of teachers that the quality of an education system truly rests. Creating conditions that encourage teachers to do their finest work, and retaining the best teachers, should therefore […]