November 11, 2009
Based on the reaction of the Maine Department of Education and the Maine Education Association, you’d think recent state legislation that loosens teacher confidentiality laws was going to unleash Enron II. Sending a slim sliver of sunshine into an otherwise black box of state data, the Maine legislature decided to release data on the aggregate number of yearly complaints against teachers and the number of teachers who lose or surrender their licenses each year. But the state’s DOE chose to interpret the law as applicable only since its passage--September 12. “That’s absurd,” exclaims Mal Leary, president of the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition. "I mean, we're not talking about something that would put somebody in jeopardy [since the data is in toto] by making the law retroactive." But DOE and MEA stand by the decision. "It would be unnecessary work on the part of the Department of Education or others who would have to compile that information. There's just no point in it,” reasons MEA executive director Mark Gray. Is there really no point in it or are there so many points state education officials worry about being speared? Maybe the state just doesn’t want to bother or maybe there’s a secret Ken Lay behind this story. We’ll have to wait and see.
"Sides argue over the release of teacher stats," by Lindsay Tice, Sun Journal, November 8, 2009