Education is the key to Maine’s future. Nothing will have a greater impact on the economic prospects of Maine people than ensuring we make the right investments in education now. We need to transform Maine into the nation’s leader in credentials and skills. That means an aggressive move to make sure every child, no matter their circumstance or where they live, gets off to an immediate and solid start. It also means that we must do a far better job ensuring that all of our young people achieve some form of post high school program. The goal of my administration will be to have a “cradle-to-college” approach: strive for the highest achieving young children and the most qualified young adults of any state in the country. My Administration will improve Maine’s education systems by:
Implementing Universal Pre-K for every 4 year old in Maine, including expanding Head Start participation. Many school districts offer pre-K, but usage is not uniform enough across the state. My administration will start supporting existing networks of public, private and nonprofit providers to improve access and affordability – and also incentive increase in quality standards.
Investing in college completion by expanding mentoring programs and reducing overall costs. Far too many Maine people – around 200,000 – have completed only some college. We need to close this gap.
Create more post-high school options that result in a valued credential, and provide reduced up-front costs to vocational training in key sectors of the economy. Work with the University System, businesses, and organized labor to create and promote apprenticeship programs. Expand and emphasize the work of the Maine Quality Centers.
Improving K-12 quality by eliminating unnecessary and counterproductive testing mandates, supporting further professional development, and increasing starting teacher pay. To have the best education in the country, we need the country’s best teachers.
Providing stability and strong guidance in the Department of Education. My administration will strive to have only one Commissioner for my entire tenure in office, and a professional staff dedicated to supporting public education.
Tackling student debt by studying income-based repayment programs (like recently initiated at Purdue University), studying an income tax forgiveness system (for example: Maine income tax forgiveness for the first 5 years), expanding the Maine State Grant program, and simplifying the Opportunity Maine program. We also need to continue the University’s existing progress toward faster degree completion and financial counselling, including expanding early college programs in all high schools.
Invest in a “Rural Return Scholarship” to incentivize young people from rural Maine to return to their hometowns after college.