At Gov. Paul R. LePage’s Friday education conference at Cony High School in Augusta, key note speaker Tony Bennett called school choice the “social justice issue of our generation” and challenged Maine’s teachers’ union – the Maine Education Association – to bring new ideas to the table.
“It does not play in the Bennet household that collective bargaining should be abolished,” said Bennet, who became Florida’s education commissioner in January.
“But I would say to the Maine Education Association: come to the table with solutions,” said Bennett. “Come to the table in good faith with solutions.”
Bennett, who spoke passionately about education reform in his former home state of Indiana as well as his new home of Florida, is a former educator and superintendent. He said when he began talking about education reform, he was treated as an “enigma,” because “public school people” typically don’t support education reforms.
Bennett concluded his address calling on Maine’s citizens, educators, and school administrators to enter dialog with LePage regarding ways to improve Maine’s schools.
“I ask the state of Maine to have this debate with Governor LePage,” said Bennett. “Don’t doubt his integrity, don’t doubt that the man has the best interests of the children at heart.”
Bennett also had advice for LePage. He told the Governor to make an effort to get out into Maine communities and talk with them about education issues.
“You can’t govern from the State House,” said Bennett.