AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage signed an executive order Wednesday that prevents Maine schools from adopting federally mandated educational standards.
The executive order is designed to ensure that Maine schools maintain local control in light of concerns about new educational benchmarks in reading, writing and math.
“Higher standards play an important role in that, but the federal government does not" wrote LePage in a prepared statement. "With my executive order, Maine is making clear that we set the standards for our state, that implementation of those standards is locally controlled.”
The executive order mandates that local school districts are responsible for setting rigorous educational standards consistent with state standards. Neither the state nor federal governments can set "specific curricula or instructional approaches," according to the executive order.
It says that future decisions to adopt state educational standards must be done through a transparent process and reaffirms that the federal government cannot set Maine's learning standards.
Also, the Maine Department of Education is barred from applying for any federal grant that "requires, as a condition of application, the adoption of any federally-developed standards, curricula or instructional approaches."
The order is aimed at sending a message to opponents of the Common Core State Standards, adopted by 45 states. Opponents recently kicked off a campaign to repeal them in Maine through a ballot referendum.
They say the uniform standards strip decision making abilities from school districts. But education officials say the standards are merely goals and districts will continue to make curriculum decisions.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.