Letter: Silence on standards isn't golden for Maine school boards

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When it was introduced, the school consolidation bill needed public input.  Another bill before the Senate, LD 1422, begs for more input from the public. 

LD 1422 will force all public schools in Maine to follow an education model called “standards-based education.” SBE moves away from traditional grades and grade levels. Most SBE systems use a 1-4 grading scale through high school. Students move at their own pace through standards, not grades.

This bill is not about standards. It’s about how the standards are taught and graded. Public schools will soon teach standards in an entirely different way than private schools. Town academies just received an exemption from this bill. Should the state be allowed to mandate how instruction happens in the classroom?

The administrators from Falmouth, Portland, and School Administrative District 51 all signed a letter drafted by the Great Schools Partnership in support of LD 1422.  Yarmouth, Brunswick, Freeport, Scarborough, Regional School Unit 1 and Cape Elizabeth did not.  Where does each local school board stand on LD 1422? 

Only one school board, Mount Dessert Island, submitted public comment on LD 1422. Its members said they were neither for nor against LD 1422. It’s a shame that other boards aren’t engaged, because SBE has been controversial in many districts. Local boards must to be prepared to answer questions about standards-based education and LD 1422. Their silence on LD 1422 will allow the state to gain control of decisions that have traditionally been made at the local level. 

Beth Schultz