past week, the Maine Department of Education released a summary of the results
of the annual assessments given to every third, eighth and eleventh grader in
I am Matt Pouliot of State Senate District 15.
results show a disturbing trend in math, which saw scores drop for the fourth
straight year, and last year’s drop was greater than that of previous years.
Only about one-third of Maine’s K-12 students demonstrated basic math skills
“at or above state expectations.” Not only is our youngsters’ knowledge of math
declining, that decline is accelerating.
is not a new problem. For years it has been the subject of a blame game rather
than a real search for answers and solutions.
I don’t give a square root whose fault it is. I only care about fixing this
incredibly important problem.
world is becoming more and more dependent on technology every day, and anyone
who has strange conversations in their home with some unseen woman named Alexa
can attest to this. From the Internet, to the microwave, to programming our
phone in our car, technology touches, even controls, everything we do.
and succeeding in this future dominated by technology requires a mastery of
mathematics. The doors that technology can open tomorrow for the young people
in our K-12 classrooms today are vast and exciting. And technology doesn’t
discriminate against states whose winters are colder, whose budgets are
smaller, or whose population is older.
is no geographic or demographic boundary that separates Maine from the greatest
opportunities in the world when it comes to learning math and technology. In
fact, the technological resources that Maine has invested in over the last two
decades has given us an advantage over most other states when it comes to
digital infrastructure in our schools.
is poised to jump out in front of the rest of the nation in learning math and
technology but it will require a laser-focus, really an obsession with finding
every conceivable way to break down the resistance to math as boring and dull,
and instead excite our students about the power of technology.
have invested millions wiring our classrooms and making sure our students have
access to laptops and tablets for learning. But statistics show that 80% of the
activity that students engage in on these devices is social media and word
processing. Neither of these is cutting edge learning.
government needs to find the best learning content in the world for these
devices and provide it to our schools at no cost so that students can take
advantage of the best math and technology learning available anywhere, much of
which is already just a download away.
partnering with organizations that create educational tools and provide
learning content and experiences through which students approach math in a way
that is more familiar to them as fun, rather than schoolwork, Maine can create
exciting opportunities for our young people and make them a model of learning
for the world to follow.
every young person whose cashier job is eliminated by the new ordering kiosks
at McDonalds, for example, there are at least two jobs somewhere in the
industry that designs, builds, installs, and services those kiosks. And these
jobs pay more, include better benefits, and can lead to a far more rewarding
need to bring more of these younger, low-earning Mainers out from behind the
counter and open up a world of new opportunities for them, but to do so, they
need to master mathematics. To help accomplish this, we need to provide our
schools with state-of-the-art learning tools that are engaging, effective, and
already has one of the nation’s best high schools in the Maine Academy of
Science and Mathematics in Limestone. We have one of the nation’s leading
colleges in Maine Maritime Academy in tiny Castine. These great institutions
have proven that there are no insurmountable barriers to excellence in learning
here in our state.
our already wired schools statewide, and teachers and students who have now
been using laptops and tablets in the classroom for decades now, we can engage
our students in the next generation of learning. We can bring the world home to
our young people so that after graduation, they can take on the world from
right here in Maine.
Again, I am Matt Pouliot of State Senate District 15. Wishing you an algorithmic weekend.