• Gov. John Baldacci
Gov. John Baldacci, who is in the final year of his first term, called on the Maine legislature last week to approve a batch of new education initiatives—most of which involve new spending.
Child Care: In his Jan. 18 State of the State Address, the Democrat said his fiscal 2007 budget proposal would include $1.5 million in new scholarship funding for individuals in colleges and universities who are training to enter the child-care and preschool education fields.
“Quality care requires quality caregivers,” Mr. Baldacci said.
He also said he would propose an additional $3 million to support high-performing small schools, and an additional $2 million to support local and regional partnerships that help provide academic-support services throughout the state, especially to its most rural districts.
Teacher Salaries: The chief executive is urging the legislature to raise Maine’s starting teacher salary to $30,000, beginning with the 2006-07 school year at a cost of $4.2 million. The average starting salary for teachers is under $27,000, Mr. Baldacci noted in his speech.
“We ask, and expect, a lot from our teachers,” he said. “In return, we must support their work.”
Test Moratorium: In an effort to “be careful that emphasis on testing doesn’t overwhelm teachers’ time and ability to educate,” the governor said he has directed state Commissioner of Education Susan A. Gendron to ask the legislature for a moratorium on the development of district-level assessments that had been mandated by the state.
Maine will administer statewide exams in grades 3-8 and 11, said Ms. Gendron in an interview last week. She said that after talking to district officials about the exams between September and December, “it became apparent to us that we need to take a step back and reflect on what we’ve learned.”
A version of this article appeared in the January 25, 2006 edition of Education Week