"Getting the cake and eating it too:" Governor offers degrees, state and local tax dollars to home-schoolers

Governor LePage addresses home-schoolers' convention,
Samoset Resort, Rockport, Maine
March 11, 2011

Transcribed from video clip

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[Welcoming applause]

Wow!  Thank you so much! It’s a real pleasure to be here and I sincerely mean that. I am happier to be here than most appearances I make during the course of a week and the reason why is this organization - you folks - get it.  You really, really get it. You’re not a union that we have to fight with teachers - you’re not - you have it in the right place and I’ve been saying, ever since I ran for governor, the... most... important... person in the classroom is the student and all you home-schoolers get it because you’re putting out, putting yourselves out and you’re not only taking the trials and tribulations of educating but much of it is done at your own expense and I tell you that I am gratified to see the size of this audience and I’m on board and we’re going to make this a bigger, and better, and stronger organization in the next four years.

[applause]

It’s very critical that the future of this state is dependent on the success that we have in educating and training our youth. And we as a nation and as a state are failing our children. In Washington last week we were there and I went to a couple of programs on education. Our country, the United States of America, has fallen to nineteenth in the world in education. We are now number nineteenth. The top four countries happen to be Singapore, Finland, Hong Kong, and - number four in the world - is Canada.  So - time to go up and get some teachers out of Canada and bring ‘em down here.

[laughter]

...Or we get you all in the classroom and you take over.

The other thing we found out is - you know, you always hear the argument that private schools do better because people are more involved and they pay for it and that home-schoolers do better because their parents are involved. Think about that for a minute. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be? ...So maybe what we need to do is get the public schools to understand that they need to find ways to mentor the students. If the parents aren’t doing it and the parents recognize that it’s not happening so they choose to do it at home and they do a better job - in fact homeschooling in this country equals or excels - certainly excels the public schools as a community - but equals, is on par with every private school there is in the country. So, again, I have to commend you because - I’ll tell you - the sacrifice and the hard work it takes to not only raise a family but you’re educating a family and I’m just so pleased that it’s a growing - in the state of Maine - and I am certain that we as a community -  or you as a community are going to finally - how could I put this? - you’re having such a positive impact on the education of your children that the public schools have no choice but to start mimicking what we - what you - do and to learn from the home-schoolers. And they certainly know, that - where I stand about the educational system is I believe it’s all about the kids and therefore don’t come screaming to me about your retirement. Don’t come screaming to me that the year’s too long.  Parents who are home-schoolers are doing it 365 days a year.

[applause]

We need to find ways to allow home-schoolers to take more advantage of public resources - for a couple of reasons. One is: you earned it. Two: you’re taxpayers. And I understand that there’s a fear from the homeschooling community that, if you do, old Government’s going to get on top of you. Well, I don’t think that necessarily has to be the way. If we formulate how it’s going to be done - (brief chuckles)  - then we can get our cake and eat it.

I do believe that there’s enormous sacrifices that have to happen in order to home-school. And there are resources that are in the public sector, or the - I’m not even - call it the public domain, whether it’s community, county, or statewide, that deal with the - ah - collection of taxes that are earmarked solely for education. So I do not want to see anyone in the home-schooling environment to go without the necessary resources. So that’s why I say that you need to have the resources so you can do your job the absolute best that you can.

Now the state of Maine - when we were in Washington - there’s the Common Core talk that you’ve heard about. And I don’t mind having strong standards.    I believe that the country and our state need to raise our standards in our educational system so that our kids can compete. But I sure  - I want to make it very clear that I stop enormously short of saying that a Common Core standard has anything with establishing curriculum. I believe that curriculum has to be established at the local level. And the home is as local as it gets.

[applause]

The one thing - the one statistic that’s very, very concerning to me - and thank you because you’re helping to reduce it - is, in our public schools in the state of Maine right now,  there are 54% of every child that graduates from high school and goes on to a Community College - 54% has to have remedial courses before they can start college. At the university level, it’s 25%. One in four students coming out of high school going on to university level - University of Maine system - needs remedial work.  21% of the kids in the public school system that started freshmen will never graduate.  Twenty-one percent.

So we have a dismal school system at the present time. We are... going... to make changes. We are going to fix our public school system and we’re going to have the examples coming from the home-schoolers who are going to help us fix the public system. Because not everyone has the ability, both academically or financially, the patience, or the wherewithal to educate their children. But those of you that do give us the - the ability to study, collect data, see what’s working, and bring that to the public system. And, that again - I need to thank each and every one of you because what you are doing is showing the public system that our kids are as smart as any European country, any Asian country - it’s just that we have to do it right. And doing it right means educating and mentoring - and mentoring happens when you do it at home. So thank you again.

[applause]

We are moving in the state to bringing the whole vocational and technical environment back to the mainstream of our schools. And, along with that, we are going to be pushing for a five-year high school - and I’m sure many of you have heard me speak of that. We need to be sure that you fall into that - that you are part of that - system. You need to help us because we need to get the standard - the kids in the home-schooling do so much better than public schools we need to find out why, how, and we need to make sure that your students and your schildren have the opportunity to come out of a - say “fifth year” of high school  with an Associate’s degree.

That’s where we’re heading. We are going to - the fifth year high school is designed  to have a standard that the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth year- I  mean the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth year - are going to be three years when you finish high school and acquire a two-year Associate’s degree.

[applause]

So think about this. With your help, your children, once they get to grade twelve, can go one more year and leave your home - or leave  the nest  - with an Associate’s degree so they can  acquoire their Bachelor’s in two years. And, in many home-schoolers, kids can go on their four-year degree in three years.

So that gives you the opportunity - and your children the opportunity - to have a Master’s degree like in five - five years from high school.   So it’s just a phenomenal opportunity. And - but - we won’t be able to it without having the knowledge and the standards that you use in the home so that we can learn and make it statewide.

Now, May first through May seventh- this year’s proclaimed ‘Home Education Week.’ And on the sixth of May, I invite all home-school students in the state to come visit me in the State House. And I think we ought  to make a whole day of it.

[applause]

You can call the Governor’s office, if you’re interested. We’ll make that a Civics Day or a Government Day, or.... But, if you’re interested, have your parents call the Governor’s office and book your visit for the sixth of May - and we’ll have a good time.  

I really believe we ought to do that because - I’ll say it again - I’m firmly a believer that those of you who are committed to home schooling are the answer to helping us fix the problems in the public schools.

[applause]

Mentoring not a substitute for parenting

It's beyond comprehension that the Governor actually said that Maine's schools need to mimic home-schooling parents ["...get the public schools to understand that they need to find ways to mentor the students..."] because (yes, BECAUSE!) "the parents aren’t doing it."

In other words, public schools should provide parenting for students who aren't getting it in the 133 hours/week they're not in classes. The 6.5-or-so daily hours (33 per week) allocated to social studies, math, spelling, science, reading, literacy, phys ed, music, and arts should be upstaged by "mentoring" because (yes, unbelievably, BECAUSE) non-homeschooling parents don't.

And this from a Tea Party, Republican Governor.