On education, Maine’s gubernatorial candidates to offer voters a clear choice.


As the Bangor Daily News reports this morning, the gubernatorial nominations of Sen. Libby Mitchell for the Democrats and Mayor Paul LePage for the Republicans “will offer voters a stark choice in November.”

This couldn’t be more true when one considers the positions the two candidates have staked out on education issues.

Mitchell, the Senate President, has been in the legislature for nearly 25 years and has had an active role in creating the system of public schools that the state has today.  She voted in favor of the school district consolidation law, for instance, and voted in favor of the current Essential Programs and Services school funding formula.  She voted against Maine having charter schools not once, not twice, but three times (the minority report for LD 1801 would have created charter schools in Maine), and as recently as the 2005-2006 legislative session, she  “supported the interests the Maine Education Association” 100 percent of the time.

Paul LePage, by contrast, would dramatically shake up Maine’s schools. According to his campaign website, LePage would like to create additional opportunities for school choice, including charter schools, and wants to liberate Maine teachers from enduring federally-driven testing regimes. “We need to get the bureaucrats out of the classrooms,” he told Augusta Insider, “and allow teachers to teach.” LePage wants to move toward outcome-based evaluations of teachers, and is a big proponent of home schooling.

That is quite a contrast.

Additionally, the two major party candidates will be up against three independent candidates, including Eliot Cutler, who clearly intends to make education reform a central element of his campaign.

So, it seems as though we could be looking at a great education debate over the weeks and months to come.