Governor LePage Brings Education Reform to the Forefront with Student-Focused Conference

March 21, 2013

For Immediate Release: Thursday, Mar. 21
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary (207) 287-2531

AUGUSTA – On Friday, Governor Paul R. LePage will hold his first education conference at Cony High School in Augusta featuring best practices and innovative reforms with education leaders from across the country.

The Governor will introduce the conference, followed by speakers and panelists from Maine to Florida, including Dr. Tony Bennett, Florida’s commissioner of education. This policy conference is aimed at sharing ideas and models from other states, and is designed for legislators, superintendents, principals, teachers, higher education officials, business leaders and others.

“Education, for me, was a way out of extreme poverty, and I want every child in Maine to have the same opportunity I had to pursue a quality education,” Governor LePage said. “Every single one of us should be putting our students first and this conference provides us the chance to engage in discussion that can lead to more successful learning experiences for our children.”

The program will begin at 8:30 a.m. with remarks from Governor LePage and Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen, followed by three sessions focusing on multiple pathways to success for students, teacher effectiveness and practices proven in Florida to help students boost test scores, graduation rates and national rankings.

At 1:15 p.m. the conference will conclude with one of the nation’s leading educators, Dr. Tony Bennett. As State Superintendent, he led Indiana through its most comprehensive, student-focused education reform initiatives. Focused on greater accountability and freedom, Tony created the nation’s most-expansive school voucher program and saw record high graduation rates and participation in Advanced Placement courses and exams. Bennett’s leadership quickly earned him a national reputation among government and education leaders. In 2010, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce named Tony Government Leader of the Year and, in 2011, The Fordham Institute named him Education Reform Idol.

Students will also have a voice at the conference. Mohamed Nur, a sophomore at Deering High School in Portland will offer his perspective on today’s education system.

“Students tend to learn more and work harder in classes that they enjoy. But at the same time, they tend of goof off and not learn in classes that they don’t like. While they’re waiting and preparing for the future, they're not learning today, in the present,” said Nur. “Now, I don’t know what the solution would be to this issue, but that’s up to us, students, teachers, educators and policy government officials.”

Media is welcome to attend the all-day event. Media availability with Dr. Tony Bennett will be from 8:00 a.m. – 8:20 a.m. Friday. If you are a member of the media and would like to book an interview with Dr. Bennett please contact Adrienne Bennett at 287-2531.

To learn more about the Governor’s Conference on Education: Putting Students First visit, www.maine.gov/doe/governorsconference/

WHEN: 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., Friday, Mar. 22

WHERE: Cony High School, 60 Pierce Drive, Augusta