Funding for education is vital now more than ever

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Joseph Hennessey teaches English at Piscataquis Community High School in Guilford. He was the 2019 Maine Teacher of the Year.

Though I used the term frequently throughout my year of service and public platform as Maine’s 2019 teacher of the year, “essential public service” has taken on different meaning since the COVID-19 pandemic has taken root in the United States. As the social fabric has been stretched, it has become clearer where the gaps in the fabric exist, and where essential workers of all persuasions are striving to fill them. In a time of uncertainty and projected budget shortfalls, it is tempting to question the additive value and fiscal cost of our public services; public education is not exempt from that scrutiny.

In anticipation of calls for new efficiencies or reductions in services offered through education centers at all levels, I find it rather timely that Educate Maine has released a new report, “How is Public Education Funded in Maine?” Through comprehensive research, data analysis and policy recommendations, the report seeks to dispel misconceptions about how the public education system is funded in the state, to explain how those funds are allocated to early childhood programs, K-12 schools, centers of higher education and adult education programs and to consider those current realities in order to plan for a robust future.

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