From 2012 to 2014 I attended the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences (MeANS). MeANS’ unique educational model stimulated my intellectual curiosity and permitted the pursuit of my desires. This model is predicated on the idea that schooling should be tailored to the interests and experiences of individual students. This is in stark contrast to our society, which instills senses of entitlement or worthlessness on the basis of one’s race, class, gender identity, sexuality, ability, etc. It is thus insulting that Gov. Paul LePage, who exhibits oppressive behavior with astounding frequency, was chosen to speak at MeANS’ charter renewal ceremony.

From espousing blatantly racist statements and calling and leaving a message to a state legislator laced with obscenities to blackmailing the incoming president of Good-Will Hinckley (operator of MeANS) and intensifying the poverty suffered by Maine’s youth, including students at MeANS, LePage’s bigotry and incompetence is clear.

Social and economic equality are preconditions for success in public education. Students fearing deportation or racist attacks from vigilantes and police can’t be expected to succeed in school. Teachers can’t adequately perform their jobs while their salaries and pensions are decimated by budget cuts. Nor can students focus on homework on empty stomachs. LePage’s personal viewpoints and public policies perpetuate racism, xenophobia, misogyny and poverty. These dynamics manifest within classrooms, undermining the function of public education.

The decision to allow LePage to speak at MeANS is an effective endorsement of his bigoted and oppressive policies and views. Staff involved in this decision must work to remedy its consequences by committing themselves to fighting the oppression and discrimination personified by LePage.

Robert Gorrill

Olympia, Washington

(formerly of Whitefield)


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