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Steve Bowen

Commissioner Bowen Reaches Out to Schools

Into the second week of his state-wide Listening Tour Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen seems to be gaining with audiences using a message celebrating local accomplishment, advocating for more educational flexibility, and soliciting ideas for reworking his Department of Education into a better partner for collaborative school improvements.

Bowen spoke at Ellsworth High School on Monday, March 21st. The third stop on the tour, Hancock County is notable not only for having the highest percentage of districts that remain out of compliance with the state's school consolidation initiative but also for being one of only two counties which failed to give the Governor a plurality in the November election.

So, towards the prospect of any fresh initiatives from Augusta, the Commissioner was certainly aware that listeners were arriving at his presentation packing a certain skepticism, if not loaded outright for bear.

Superintendents have been reminding him, the Commissioner said, that the Maine Department of Education used to be like the Cooperative Extension Service. "You could call them up with a problem and they'd help you figure out how to solve it. Now, they say, if you get a call from the Department, it means you’re in trouble about something, usually something to do with federal accounting." Read more »

'Flipping the Curve'

At the Governors' meeting in Washington on Monday, probably no one welcomed Bill Gates' gift basket book, Stretching the School Dollar,  more than Governor LePage.

Indeed, with every state executive facing down his own little bit of Madison, who would want to disbelieve that, to flip the achievement-spending curves, all we need to do to beat the test scores of the pesky Finns and Singaporeans is fire the bottom 15% of the nation's teachers and convey the savings as merit bonuses to the remaining stalwarts in compensation for the minor inconvenience of larger class sizes?

Then, one presumes, a similar supply-side subroutine could be turned loose on the medical field by retiring the bottom tier of doctors (as rigorously evidenced by -say- patient mortality) subsequently realizing both a dramatic uptick in longevity and a decimation of expense.

Plainly still jacked from this news at the conclusion of his own testimony at Wednesday's Appropriations hearing, Governor LePage sought to reassure Representative Fredette, whose teaching spouse stands to lose benefits under the Governor's budget, that teachers who survive the performance cut will enjoy some spoils. Read more »

MHPC Attacks Otten for Latest Plagiarism

Can't say I'm surprised that Les Otten has continued to appropriate other people's work for his own purposes.

Matt Gagnon caught the plagiarized passages, which are from this report by Steve Bowen at the Maine Heritage Policy Center and were used in this response to an education policy questionnaire by Derek Viger.

This, obviously, comes after several other instances of plagiarism were brought to light early in his campaign.

The Otten campaign offered a stunningly inept denial/apology.

Now the author of the report, Steve Bowen, has written a long post on the MHPC blog criticizing Otten for both the plagiarism itself and his campaign's response once the deed was uncovered.

Some excerpts:

Had the Otten piece simply been comprised of big sections of unedited text from my work, they could plausibly argue that they cut and pasted it into a new document with the intent of later adding quotation marks and citations. But what they did was rewrite and reorganize whole sections of it. You don't accidentally turn a paragraph into a bullet list, take out the bullets with which you disagree, then accidentally forget to cite the author of the original paragraph from which the bullet list was crafted.

Are they joking with this? [...]

We do not intend for our work to be used in a way that implies we endorse a specific political candidate, nor do we expect candidates to slyly suggest in their statements that we are somehow working behind the scenes to advance their campaigns. That appears to me to be what the Otten campaign is implying and it is both offensive to me and to the organization and potentially damaging to our credibility.

The Otten campaign has taken steps to apologize to me and to MHPC, but not for stealing our work.In their mind, it seems, this was simply an unfortunate accident, not a blatant attempt to pass off my work as the work of Les Otten.

I, for one, am not buying it.

In related news, fake Leslie Otten is back up on Twitter.

Update: Gagnon has found more plagiarized passages sprinkled throughout the policy documents on Otten's website.