Maine’s new economy depends on education innovators

On June 30 a group of 150 educators and innovators gathered at Bowdoin College for a day-long discussion of ‘the critical role of education innovators in supporting a new economy in Maine’. The gathering was convened by Alan Caron of the non-profit Envision Maine, with sponsorship or partnership from twelve organizations, including Maine Community Foundation, Educate Maine, Androscoggin Bank, Maine Association for Charter Schools, the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, and the University of New England.

Speakers and panelists were an outstanding and diverse group. All agreed on a few basic points: the future of Maine depends on an educated workforce ready to embrace challenge and solve problems; currently many Maine schools are not teaching these skillsets; an entrepreneurial spirit and set of skills can and should be taught; the educational bureaucracies in Maine do not support innovation from educators – and they should.

Envision Maine plans another conference focused on education in December. While it was fantastic to spend a day in the company of Mainers passionate about the future of the state and the key role of education, the gathering’s absence of district educational leaders was noticeable and disappointing. Leaders would have benefited from hearing the many innovative and useful ideas that were floated during the conference. Once I learn the details of the next conference I will share them. I urge district leaders to attend and to bring others from their districts.

Kathreen Harrison

About Kathreen Harrison

Kathreen Harrison is a public school teacher in Maine. She has a master’s degree from Bank Street College of Education and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College. She has worked in a variety of schools in New York and Maine in a number of capacities – French teacher, gifted and talented teacher, elementary school teacher, and curriculum coordinator for island schools. She has lived in Maine for 20 years and has a particular interest in school reform.