Major report: Maine a “laggard” in education innovation


Maine, once thought by many to be a leader in educational innovation, now trails much of the nation, at least according to a major new report sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and authored by the left-leaning Center for American Progress and the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute.

The report, titled Leaders and Laggards: A State-by-State Report Card on Educational Innovation, gave Maine 2 B’s, 2 C’s and 3 D’s on various measures of educational innovation from school management and staffing to educational data and technology.

In particular, Maine was criticized for not having charter schools or performance-based pay for teachers, for having inadequate data systems, and for poorly implementing technology. The state also struggles to “manage its schools in a way that encourages thoughtful innovation.” According to the study, 93 percent of teachers report that paperwork and other duties interfere with their teaching. The state ranked 45th in the nation in school management alone.

MHPC is also mentioned in the report (though identified incorrectly as the “Maine Heritage Foundation”) as being “a member of the forward-thinking Policy Innovators in Education Network,” which we are.

This report could not come at a better time. The legislature’s ineffectual Education Committee is busy meeting by email to discuss potential budget cuts, and is apparently looking at eliminating a public vote on school budgets as a potential cost-saving measure. This same committee rejected charter schools earlier this year and has proven reluctant to take any bold steps, such as implementing new high school diploma requirements (it created a “working group” comprised of status quo-backing interest groups to study the idea instead), to transform Maine schools.

Could the Chamber report be the kick the Committee needs to get it to stand up to the special interests that are throttling innovation and finally move Maine forward?

We’ll see…