Well, happy St. Patrick's Day.
By way of introduction,
while traveling back and forth this week, we developed an "informal
hypothesis" about the work of the legislature. We explained it as
the "Square of Eight Weeks." The legislative session runs about 24
weeks - about half a year. There is a certain amount of work to be
done in the first eight weeks, the first third. That amount of work is
squared in the second eight weeks, whch we are entering now. That work is
squared again in the last eight weeks.
March 16, 2017
As always, feel free to check out what's happening - use the calendar to the left or go to:
This week in the House -
It was pleasant to host Mr. Tony Brown
and Mr. Langston Snodgrass as guests of the House on Thursday. Feel
free to contact me if you wish to visit and observe
This week in the Education Committee
Always interesting. Despite the blizzard, bills march on.
When I first joined the legislature, I had the chance to submit a bill on teacher improvment. It was not designed as an overhaul of the teacher preparation system but as an enhancement of what it is we do to get teachers ready for the classroom. As one other committee member said, "A great ideas, but not a good idea." So as this bill went to work session, I recommended, "Ought not to pass," a kind of "hari-kari" move. That's perfectly acceptable - freshman legislatures learn.
On Thursday, Senator Nate Libby proposed a
bill to direct the Department of Education to evaluate formal testing
procedures for the state of Maine. Leave it to experience - he's
right. We need to figure out what we are doing for formalized
testing - and we hear from teachers all over the state that too much time
is given to mandated assessment. If you are interested, you can
consult the resources found at this link - Too Much
This is an
issue about which I feel strongly. You are welcome to read my own
testimony at LD573-Digital
While the work of the session, despite the blizzard, was busy and involved, it's important for me to reflect on an underlying concern with the budgetary process for education.
The Governor's budget is under discussion by almost every committee in the legislature. After all, it's the budget that makes state government work. The Governor proposes a budget and the legislature works on and approves, rejects, or suggests a budget in variance.
It seems to me that the people of Maine have spoken on several occasions that they wish to fund education at 55%. That was the resolve several years ago - that was the intent behind the legislation on an income surcharge for those whose income exceeds $200.000.00.
Those things indicate to me that the "will of the people" has been expressed. It's the law at some point.
In seeking legislation around Education, it simply seems that the funding at 55% should not be a question, or an issue. However, it is, as the methodology to get to 55% of education funding is under debate. The administration takes one thing away under the guise of adding another. The math is even more simple than the "Square of Eight Weeks." If you reduce the amount your budget for education, then you magically move closer to funding 55% - a deception.
For me, it's about a "Fair 55." I will argue for an honest budget without shenanigans, shell games, or hidden costs that inadequately fund education at the mandated level of 55%. Let's have a "Fair 55."
On the national scene - well. The common guy or gal - well, they just don't seem to matter much. It feels as if we plebians are completely expendable. I'm hoping that common sense will prevail.