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LePage on Education

Governor Paul LePage's Speech to the Homeschoolers of Maine Convention,
March 11, 2011:
See MDI for full transcript.

Paul LePage on education in the U.S.:

--“We are now number nineteenth.
“In fact homeschooling in this country equals or excels [sic] -- certainly excels the public schools as a community. “

On public school teachers:  
--“And they certainly know, that - where I stand about the educational system is I believe it’s all about the kids and therefore don’t come screaming to me about your retirement. Don’t come screaming to me that the year’s too long.  Parents who are home-schooling are doing it 365 days a year.  

“We need to find ways to allow home-schoolers to take more advantage of public resources - for a couple of reasons. One is: you earned it. Two: you’re taxpayers. And I understand that there’s a fear from the homeschooling community that, if you do, old Government’s going to get on top of you [in terms of accountability?]. Well, I don’t believe that that - necessarily - has to be the way. If we formulate how it’s going to be done - (brief chuckles)  - then we can get our cake and eat it.”

“I do believe that there’s enormous sacrifices that have to happen in order to home-school. And there are resources that are in the public sector, or the public - I’m not even - call it the public domain, whether it’s community, county, or statewide, that deal with the - ah - collection of taxes that are earmarked solely for education. So I do not want to see anyone in the home-schooling environment to go without the necessary resources. So that’s why I say that you need to have the resources so you can do your job the absolute best that you can."

On education funds being diverted from public schools:

Q: "One comment about the schools that we’re all familiar with is taxes - or property taxes at the local level. Is there some relief or option for home-schooling parents to get some kind of a credit against that portion of their local property taxes?"

Governor LePage:
--" Okay. Very good question. And in the current budget that’s been submitted there isn’t because we’re working on the EPS formula. But the answer is it is part of our agenda. It is part of my priorities and we are working with the new education Commissioner to find ways to have tax dollars follow... the... student. [including the homeschooling student].  Now what I mean by that is: every student in Maine should have an equal opportunity. I would like the tax dollars that are paid by everyone, both at the community level and the state level, to follow the student. So that is one major change that we want to make. And that would include home-schools, delinquent kids, dropouts. See, not only is it important that a home-schooling family who want to home-school have the necessary resources but, if someone drops out of high school, I want the money to follow the student, not the school district. Therefore that will put a little bit more incentive on the school districts to get better at what they do to keep kids in school and also compete to get you folks to send your kids to the public schools."  

On teaching creationism in public schools:
--”Do I believe it should be taught in schools? Yes. So, I will - yes - be pushing to have it taught.  The likelihood of it passing the state of Maine legislature is not good. So, what we can do to do that is our charter schools, magnet schools, special schools and give them the right to do whatever they want.

“I also believe that parochial schools, religious-based schools, should have the opportunity to get state resources. Because it’s not about your religion. It’s not about what your personal belief is in. It’s about the most important person in the classroom which is the student.

“I think government ought to get out of the way when it comes to raising kids.”  

On special education:  
“We are going to get much, much tougher on how you qualify a student and they’re going to have be looked at by a counselor and not by a teacher.”

On the one-room schoolhouse:

“I do believe in the one classroom school, and I’ll tell you why - K through six, for instance - you can have K through six in one classroom and one good teacher can handle all the grades. “

On prayer in schools:  
Question: “Public schools are sick. What they’re teaching our kids, they’re perverted and they’re perverting our kids .. . Abstinence. Just let it be taught. It’s not even taught in our schools. Bring God back into the schools. We have God in our homes. We want for these kids in the schools to have God, bring the daily prayer back in, or allow..."

Governor LePage: " . . . Allow it, at least."

Q (continuing): "I think that Bible clubs are allowed but I know that they get a lot of grief.  Allow Bible studies to be done in these schools and you’ll see changed kids, changed parents, changed hearts."

Governor LePage: "Let me try to answer that. so - you’ll - we’re probably going to be start heading in that direction . . . we’re going to have an election next year - we need to maintain that and build on it. And then we will become a red state. Those red states, many of them do allow a lot more [presence of religion in school]  than we do here in Maine. That’s because the people want it. Now we also have a federal Constitution which unfortunately the courts have been going the wrong way in my mind and we need to go back to the basics. And I do believe that ‘In God We Trust’ is all over our Constitution. It’s all over our country. It was based - our country was based on religion, frankly. And so we need to work towards that."

To sum up:
  • LePage wants more kids being homeschooled (and presumably in charters and private schools) and fewer kids in public schools.  States the public schools are shrinking anyway, and that is a good thing.
  • LePage wants teachers to mentor kids but he doesn’t want the government to be involved in bringing up kids.
  • LePage doesn’t respect teachers; thinks they are selfish and more concerned with their retirement and workload than with students.
  • He wants the money to follow the student in terms of homeschoolers -- and even in the case of dropouts (whatever that means).
  • LePage wants to allow prayer in public schools; he also wants to have creationism taught in public schools.
  • he wants Maine to become a red state  (sounds like politics before people to me).

    Read More:
    LePage Education Plan for 2012
    LePage on Charters (commentary)

Read More:
LePage Education Plan for 2012
LePage on Charters (commentary)Charter Schools in Maine
LePage & Bowen Voucher Plan