By Ben Velderman
AUGUSTA, Maine – The Maine Education Association is taking a victory lap over a state report that finds only 12 percent of University of Maine students need remediation upon beginning college.
“This proves our public schools are succeeding and we should continue to invest in a system we know produces positive results,” crowed MEA President Lois Kilby-Chesley in a press release.
Unlike the teachers union, most state taxpayers wouldn’t celebrate the fact that 12 percent of their university students need to relearn high school material. And the same report finds 50 of Maine’s community college freshmen need remediation.
Perhaps the union started patting itself on the back too quickly.
As a Sun Journal editorial explains, that “means students, parents and the public are often being ‘double billed’ for much of this learning. We pay taxes to support public schools, then students and parents pay again to learn what they should have learned the first time around.”
The excessively high remediation rate at Maine’s community colleges is troubling for another reason. According to research, fewer than 10 percent of community college students who need remediation end up graduating within three years, the Sun Journal notes.
That means hundreds of thousands of students are leaving college with a huge amount of student loan debt but without any kind of degree.
That’s shameful, and the MEA knows it. That’s why in that same press release, Kilby-Chesley calls for more “public school funding … to facilitate and assure that all Maine’s students attend a great public school and receive the necessary support.”
It’s revealing that no matter what the statistics say about college-level remediation – whether it goes up or down – the MEA uses that as proof that public school funding should be increased.
The MEA would have been wise to completely ignore the state’s remediation report, because its press release makes union leaders sound like flim-flam artists of the lowest order.