I was troubled by the tone of your editorial, “Proficiency gone; Maine back to square one” (July 25). In 1988, when I began teaching in Maine, 15 years into my career, Maine was rated quite high among the states on many of the standard measures. At about that time, the legislative initiatives were beginning to raise their heads: the Maine Learning Results of the 1990s; Learning Results version 2 in the 2000s; Common Core in 2010s; and “high standards for all.”

A great deal of time and money was spent outside the schools (but “for the kids”, naturally) for initiatives to disrupt rather than improve. Several former commissioners of education have done very well for themselves as movers and shakers. Grant money flowed, then consulting fees followed, and “experts” were shuttled in and out.

Your editorial raised into the conversation two standards that could very well have been addressed in a targeted effort to improve: it is reasonable that some fairly high percentage of students graduating from high schools should be ready in math, reading, and writing to meet the incoming standards for community college or technical school. Set that as a goal — your “square one”? — and let the parents and schools set their own larger efforts on improving at every other level.

The Legislature’s failure over the decades was to think that there is or was a single path that would work for each and every student. Simple “proficiency” is not meaningful if we don’t ask, “Proficiency at what? For what?”

As a “standard,” good riddance.

Jim Perkins


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