One seemingly quiet day, two big education stories


With the legislature finally out of Session, one would think things might quiet down in Augusta, at least on the education front, but today ended up being far more newsworthy than we had any right to expect.

First, the governor issued an interesting Executive Order today putting LD 1799’s now infamous stakeholder group to work immediately. “Convening stakeholders immediately to begin considering evaluation models,” the order reads, “will speed the work required in LD 1799, and will provide evidence to the federal government in evaluating Maine’s reform efforts.” The governor goes on to order the Education Commissioner to “convene a group of stakeholders, as defined in LD 1799,” and “lead the stakeholder group in reviewing and approving, not later than May 14, 2010 at least one model for the evaluation of professional performance of teachers and principals that meets the federal Race to the Top criteria for improving teacher and principal effectiveness based on performance.”

Clearly, the state is under some pressure to get this work done and it will be interesting to see what comes of the governor’s order.

This is especially true given the far bigger news of the day, the resignation of Commissioner Susan Gendron, effective at the end of the month. I’ll have more to say on the commissioner herself in the days to come, but at the very least her resignation further complicates the already complicated effort to get Maine’s RTT application off the ground. The commissioner was the state’s leading advocate for that effort, an effort with seemingly little support either in the legislature or in the Blaine House. The steady focus she has had on getting Maine in decent shape for the RTT competition will be sorely missed. That effort, already in trouble, is probably in even greater trouble as of today.

The commissioner is to be replaced by someone named Angela Faherty. She is apparently the Deputy Commissioner, though I don’t know that I’ve ever met or even seen her in all the years I’ve been hanging around in Augusta.