Paul, Joe, Newspapers, Taxes, and Virtual Schools

By Sandra Sylvester | Feb 04, 2013

Knox County — (The following story contains my feelings as well as some expert opinions about the situations described. I welcome any and all responses.)

What do you think would happen if Governor Paul LePage met up with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, of Arizona, who makes his jail prisoners wear pink, among other things?

I was thinking about this very scenario when I read a recent story in the Bangor Daily News reporting on Governor LePage’s most recent tirade against Maine newspapers.

First of all, here’s the governor of the Great State of Maine speaking to a group of students wearing a blue button-down long sleeved shirt with no tie and no coat jacket. Now what kind of image is that to present to future tax-paying citizens of our great state?

LePage has blasted Maine’s newspapers more than once saying the “newspaper industry in Maine is full of liars; he prefers TV and radio news because he believes they don’t “spin the news.”

Let me tell you, after working for CNN news in the past I can tell you that there is definitely a “spin” to TV news.

So newspapers in Maine don’t have enough problems competing with visual media that they need their governor adding fuel to the fire? Problems with our own local newspaper were bad enough.

Along with this recent tirade, the governor is trying to fix the tax system so that homeowners have to carry a bigger burden. I believe he also wants to cut aid to individual towns. So like Joe out in Arizona, who denies coffee to his prisoners because it has no nutritional value, maybe LePage would be happier when our homeowners become homeless because the bank forecloses on their home and they end up having to camp out down on Sandy Beach in the South End. They certainly can’t depend on a homeless shelter anywhere near. They are now non-existent. Maybe these people will turn to crime and end up in tents in a wire enclosure like the one Joe runs out in the Arizona desert.

Maybe these are harsh words, but I am a retiree who wants to move back to her beloved State of Maine sometime in the future. I can only hope that LePage is gone by then.

Virtual Schools

Now we come to the latest hype the governor is backing for the education of Maine youth. It seems to me that a Governor who not too long ago slandered Maine students by saying that out-of-state colleges and universities laugh when they apply to their schools, should now endorse a system that is profit-based and actually doesn’t work as well as a classroom situation does. He might as well have said that Maine students are stupid and unworthy of help from anyone.

I am not the only one with these opinions on education. I was a teacher and I know how important interaction with your fellow students is. Through such daily contact young people learn to be socially accepted; learn how to work with a team; and how to make long-lasting friendships. If that were not so why is it that my class of 1959, who graduated from Rockland High School 54 years ago, still meets once a month for breakfast?

Here’s what Kit Harrison, a long-time educator, had to say in a recent story in The Courier Gazette: “Gov. Paul LePage’s push to bring virtual charter schools to Maine threatens to increase the already shameful inequities in an education system that favors the privileged. Educated parents will not enroll their children in virtual schools and the gap between the haves and have nots will be widened. Instead of improving education for the children of our state, virtual schools will further diminish it.”

After all, who is going to monitor these “virtual schools?” Will mothers have to stay home, not work, further decreasing family income, to watch over her “virtual student?” Or if we set up daycare centers, which parents have to pay for on top of paying for the state-mandated “virtual education” of their child, so that someone else can monitor their child’s “virtual education,” then what’s the purpose of the whole thing?

Don’t get me wrong. Virtual education is most likely on the horizon, but not now. It will be several years before this method of teaching will be fine-tuned enough and globally accepted enough as the best way to teach a child..

Here in Georgia and down in Florida there are several virtual school systems as evidenced by internet sites. In fact that’s where LePage got his ideas about this whole thing, from former Governor Jeb Bush down in Florida. Anyone who follows educational standings knows that, historically, Georgia and Florida stand very low on the ladder when it comes to the quality of their state’s educational systems and the standings of their students. They produce great football players though. See where I’m going here?

In a special report in the Portland Press Herald, here’s what staff writer, Colin Woodard found.

The report is called: Special Report: The profit motive behind virtual schools in Maine. The documents they found exposed “the flow of money and influence from corporations that stand to profit from state leaders’ efforts to expand and deregulate digital education.”

 It is an extensive report, but the key findings are:

“Maine’s digital education agenda is being guided behind the scenes by out-of-state companies who stand to profit on the changes.”

“LePage was guided and relied heavily on former Gov. Jeb Bush’s ‘Foundation for Excellence in Education.’ The foundation is a conservative think tank which writes policies creating taxpayer-funded virtual schools.”

“This foundation and its top officials receive funding from online education companies, which will profit if the initiatives go forward.”

“Virtual schools have no classrooms, little or no in-person teaching and a poor track record compared to public schools.”

So there you are. Maybe Joe and Paul should go off to some offshore island and set up a whole new community so they can live happily ever after in a new-wave, dare I say it--Socialist, paradise.

As I said, opinions are welcome. I promise not to put my own “spin” on them. I have done my venting for the day. Thanks for listening.










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