It almost seems like our governor wants our schools to fail. On the one hand, Gov. Paul LePage has called Maine's schools among the worst in the nation and Maine's schoolchildren among the least accomplished. On the other hand, he threatens to impoverish our school districts so that school boards are compelled to cut programs and lay off teachers. Where is the logic in this state of affairs? It's hard not to think LePage is looking to kill public education in Maine.

The Declaration of Independence describes the job of government as follows: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…

In other words, it is a main purpose of government to help people achieve satisfying lives. There's not a developed country in the world that does not believe one of the primary ways government can help people lead satisfying lives is to help train their minds to think expansively, creatively, critically, and deeply. Education prepares citizens for democratic life by teaching them to think so they can choose their leaders from a position of understanding, rather than on a lark or as a result of untoward persuasion. In other words, without a decent education system we would soon find ourselves back in the dark ages, our lives ruled by the most greedy among us. Drastic cuts to local school funding is not the way to ensure an educated populace. It is the way to undermine democracy.

Yes, economic times are hard — at least for the middle and lower classes. However this is no excuse for cutting huge chunks of funding from our schools. We need our schools to be working at the very best level possible to meet the challenge of raising a generation to find satisfying lives and keep our democracy going. Gov. LePage will do a terrible disservice to the state of Maine if he goes through with his plan of impoverishing the schools.

This is not to say that I do not believe much should be done to improve the schools in our state. From the top down the whole system needs not just reform but a complete remaking. However this should not be taken as an excuse to impoverish the public schools in Maine. Gov. LePage and the legislators in Augusta need to remember why we have government in the first place. They, and school leaders on every level in the state, need to get to work remaking — not weakening — our public schools so that they truly serve our democracy.

Please take a few minutes — as soon as possible — to contact your legislators and let them know that you don't want funding to be cut to your public schools!

Kathreen Harrison is a longtime educator with a strong interest in school reform. She is currently a World Language teacher in RSU 13, but over the course of almost 30 years has worked in 10 schools in capacities ranging from classroom teacher to gifted and talented teacher to island curriculum adviser.