Liveblogging the Education Committee meeting today…


4 pm

Speaking of accountability, the requirements for federal Race To the Top funds (RTT) hit the committee like a brick this afternoon. The commissioner presented the committee with but one page of the 100 page federal RTT application, the page outlining how the U.S. Department of Education will grade state applications for funding under the massive federal grant program.

That page can be seen here:

Race to the Top points schedule.pdf

As the commissioner made clear, the state has a pile of work to do. Indeed, her tone seemed to suggest that she has substantial doubts as to whether the state could undertake enough reforms with enough speed, at this late date, to qualify for the grants.

With regard to charter schools, she indicated that the feds will evidently accept that a state has demonstrated that it encourages innovative school models if it has charter-like schools that meet certain requirements. She was unable to name a single Maine school that would qualify under this slightly looser definition of “charter school”.  (The Maine School of Science and Math would not qualify as it has a selective enrollment process). Still, she plans no charter school legislation.

In short, not a lot of hope that the state will qualify unless some major changes are made, changes Maine’s education establishment has habitually opposed.

That is the issue by the way, though Sen. Schneider seemed to convince herself that the deck was stacked against Maine because our small state does not have the resources to pour into the application effort. She literally wants to make a federal case out of what she perceives to be a bias in favor of larger, more prosperous states.

No, senator, the issue for Maine is that we are not doing the things that the Obama Administration, which I presume you supported, thinks we ought to be doing. We are simply not innovating as we should be. 

“There are a lot of areas where we would do very well on the application,” the commissioner said, “but…” and her voice trailed off…