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 educated adults is multilingualism, Maine would be handicapping its students – and the state – by dropping this requirement. Without language proficiency, how will Maine business people compete internationally? We must not forget that 30% of the national economy is connected to international trade and that half of the growth the US has seen in the last decade has come from exports.

States such as Utah and Delaware have understood the importance language study has to their future economic strength and they invest in World Language programs. Maine should do the same by keeping – and ensuring funding for – the World Language graduation requirement of LD1422. We should also convene a Task Force on Global Education as a first step toward guaranteeing that our students learn the global competence skills they will need to participate on the world stage.

Graduates who are proficient in multiple languages, and who understand what it takes to communicate successfully with people from other cultures, will lead the economy of the future. I urge you to write to your legislators saying that you expect them to ensure Maine’s graduates are among those leaders.



Kathreen Harrison

About Kathreen Harrison

Kathreen Harrison is a public school teacher in Maine. She has a master’s degree from Bank Street College of Education and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College. She has worked in a variety of schools in New York and Maine in a number of capacities – French teacher, gifted and talented teacher, elementary school teacher, and curriculum coordinator for island schools. She has lived in Maine for 20 years and has a particular interest in school reform.