May 23, 2019
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Maine’s equal opportunity education plan approved by feds

Harry E. Walker | MCT
Harry E. Walker | MCT
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine is one of 16 states in the country to have its plans for providing all students with equal access to quality instruction approved by the U.S. Department of Education.

“All parents understand that strong teaching is fundamental to strong opportunities for their children,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a news release. “We as a country should treat that opportunity as a right that every family has — regardless of race, ethnicity or national origin, zip code, wealth or first language.”

The U.S. Department of Education has charged states with finding ways to provide students with quality teachers through its Excellent Educators for All initiative.

Under the plan, Maine will modify its teacher preparation programs to “help ensure that all teachers are ready to provide high-quality instruction to their students,” according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Maine also will be expected to invest in programs aimed at improving school administrators, such as principals, the idea being that great teachers will follow strong leaders.

Additionally, Maine expects to provide financial incentives “designed to reward teachers for exceptional work and to encourage excellent educators to remain in the highest-need schools.”

That plan was submitted last month. For the full text, visit

The other 15 states with plans that got the nod from the U.S. Department of Education Thursday were Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

“We are delighted that the hard work of the staff at the Department of Education here in Maine has gained the recognition of our federal counterparts and helped create a better learning environment for Maine students,” Maine Department of Education Acting Commissioner Tom Desjardin said Thursday.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Education gave Maine a three-year waiver from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, formerly No Child Left Behind. That effectively recognized that Maine’s education system was already progressing and performing well on its own, the Maine Department of Education argued.

It also recognized that restrictions that would work well in large states or inner-city districts wouldn’t necessarily be effective in Maine.

Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.


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