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Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.

Forty years ago America had the highest high school graduation rate, however, that’s no longer the case. Today, twenty-five percent of Americans that start high school do not graduate. In Maine, we have a slightly lower percentage of students that fail to receive their diplomas – roughly twenty-one percent.

Despite the numbers, we can and have the responsibility do more to encourage our students to be successful. I would like all students to receive a well-rounded education that inspires them to reach their potential.

In order for our youngest generation to achieve success we must put our students first. We can build a strong foundation for learning by reworking our education system to expand options for parents and students and enhance support among teachers.

To ensure successful outcomes from students the power of choice is an important factor.

This past week, Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen explained to Legislators the benefits of several bills we have introduced.

We have proposed changes that enable school districts and private schools to receive public tuition funding. This will create a new open enrollment option for students, which allows them to attend schools that are not within their current districts. It’s unreasonable for a line on a town map to limit educational opportunities.

We also help expand access to our Career and Technical Education schools and ensure that students completing CTE coursework have greater access to national certifications and postsecondary opportunities.

It’s these sorts of policy ideas which give more choice for parents and children.

Consistent with the expansion of school choice options, we are giving families the ability to choose the best fit for their children’s educational needs by removing one more obstacle. We propose to open public funding to all state certified schools – an option that all students had prior to 1981.

Finally, and perhaps the most important key to student success are effective teachers. Yet our school systems treat all teachers as interchangeable parts, not professionals. Often times, excellence goes unrecognized and poor performance goes unaddressed. We must do a better job supporting our teachers and providing ongoing support. Our plan ensures effective teaching by empowering teachers, because we know this important factor has a profound impact on the future of students.

Commissioner Bowen and I hope you will take the time to learn more about our education plan that moves Maine forward. For more information visit Maine dot Gov and go to the Department of Education link.

With the advancement of technology the world has become more interconnected and competitive. The success of our educational system will define our place in the global economy. The needs of our students change we must be willing to alter our approach to education to ensure the system works for everyone. It’s our responsibility to put students first. And once again make America the world leader in education achievement.

Thank you for listening. Ann and I hope you enjoy the weekend.

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