FROM OUR PRINTED APRIL2023 EDITION:
Maine’s Mills/Makin Push Academic Learning to ‘Backseat’ Focus: Race/Gender
by Mary Lou Daxland
Editorial Advisory Board Member
The Maine public school system is in freefall. The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) released a report last October that Maine students showed sharp decreases in math and reading skills from 2019 to 2022. Reading scores track now at the lowest level in three decades.
Maine’s Department of Education Commissioner Pender Makin has served as Gov. Janet Mills education commissioner since 2019. Makin spoke with lawmakers on the state Education and Cultural Affairs Committee last month. The federal Department of Education recently threatened to withhold Title 1 administration funds due to Maine’s student scores. Makin told the committee that her agency had responded to the federal Department of Education and the $117,000 Title 1A administrative funding was not at risk.
Makin told state lawmakers that “Academic learning is definitely going to take a backseat.” Traditional learning of reading, writing, and math will not be a priority. Maine schools will focus on social-emotional learning and programs on race and gender (the “woke” agenda).
There is a disconnect here with Makin’s comments. Maine students are not testing well and the Department of Education wants to slow down traditional learning for progressive theories about gender and race.
A recent poll conducted by Maine Wire/Co/Efficient indicated bipartisan majorities want Maine’s public schools to hold back on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs and focus on the basics – reading, writing, math, and science. Seventy seven percent of voters polled said schools should be teaching the basics. That included 91% of Republicans and 62% of Democrats that were in the poll.
In many school districts across Maine, parents are fighting against the liberal left agenda that Gov. Janet Mills and her Department of Education Commissioner Pender Makin are forcing on the students attending Maine public schools. But there are parents that will not fight because they fear their children will suffer if they remain in the school they are attending.
The Maine Department of Education has control and they will not listen to what Maine voters and parents want. The Maine public school students are not getting educated. Taxpayers are paying for programs that will not help students grow into successful adults. Some parents have moved their children out of the public schools to private and Christian schools and others have chosen to home school their children. But not everyone can afford to do that.
Elections have consequences. The more Republicans elected to the State House in 2024, the better our chances are for slowing down the Democrat “woke” agenda. And at the local level, school board elections are another way of turning the tide. The way to stop the decline in the Maine public schools is to get strong conservatives to run for office and fight to remove the liberal left agenda.
Are you ready to fight? ♦
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