In a recent “Voice of the Voter” debate (hat tip to Augusta Insider), Republican nominee for Governor of Maine Paul LePage was asked by WCSH news anchor Pat Callaghan how he would raise the state’s public education standards if elected:
Pat Callaghan: Don’t we need tougher statewide standards to ensure that everybody, whether they’re in a city or rural area, is getting the same quality education?
I’ll give you a transcript of Paul LePage’s complete answer on the subject so you won’t think I’m taking his answer out of context:
Paul LePage: I believe that we have to push back against the federal government and the state government. I think we need to have education locally. I believe in homeschooling. I think homeschooling’s proven to be a succcess nationwide. I believe in charter schools and I believe in vouchers. I believe that we need to take a look at the educational system in Maine and what is coming out of Augusta, and leave it at the local level.
Bill [Beardsley] said “Washington Academy.” Foxcroft Academy does the same thing. They’ve brought the math scores way up because they bring kids from the, from Asia. And they’ve brought their verbals up because and the languages up because they bring kids from Asia. So I really believe we need to get into a partnership between the public sector, the private sector, and get education local.
Minutes before, fellow Republican Bill Beardsley had marveled at Washington Academy’s success in attracting Chinese students:
Yeah, in Washington County you’ve got Washington Academy; it’s attracting kids from China that have paid $30,000 a year to go Down East. And you say, “Why can’t the public institutions do that?”
It may help that Washington Academy is an elite private boarding school founded by John Hancock (yes, that John Hancock), a boarding school that can choose to accept only the applicants with the best academic records, unlike public schools which must accept every student. It may help that the Academy sits on 45 acres with just 400 students and charges $35,000 a year in tuition, plus more than ten thousand more for those foreign students in ESL fees. Like Washington Academy, Foxcroft Academy is an elite private boarding school that selects its students by application. It sits on 120 acres of land, has an endowment of $6 million and a tuition of $33,100 a year.
Yes, that’s the Paul LePage education plan: someone get Maine public schools to be like Foxcroft and Washington Academies, accept students only by application, charge more than $30 thou a year in tuition per student, and thereby attract planeloads of clever Asian students to spike up the state’s test scores.
Why, it’s so crazy, it just might…
… no, it won’t work after all. For a plan like this to work, I think there has to be some kind of secret lair involved.
P.S. I’ve been unfair. I’ve neglected the other aspect of Paul LePage’s education plan for Maine, which is to have kids stay home with Mom and Dad and let the parents do all the teaching. I almost forgot that part.
I’m dreaming up LePage for Governor 2010 slogans right now:
LePage 2010: Stay Home With Ma and Watch the Asians Pour In!
LePage 2010: A Chinaman in the Classroom is Worth Two Mainers in the Lavatory
I think they’re winners.