SKOWHEGAN — The Margaret Chase Smith Library has announced the topic of its 17th annual essay contest: education. Margaret Chase's first job after graduating from Skowhegan High School in 1916 was as a teacher at a one-room schoolhouse in her hometown. She lasted one year. That is how long it took her to realize how difficult teaching was and that she was not cut out for the profession.
Nearly a century later, the United States is still trying to get education right. The proliferation of reforms is dizzying: State Learning Results, No Child Left Behind, Common Core, charter schools, school choice.
The Margaret Chase Smith Library invites Maine high school seniors to propose what they would do to reform and improve the American educational system.
The rules of the essay contest are minimal. Essays must be typed and double-spaced. Electronic submissions are accepted. Contestants should provide contact information so they can receive notice of final results.
There is no minimum or maximum length requirement. Quality of evidence, argumentation and writing is more important than quantity of words. The best essays support personal opinions with historical context and cited facts.
Thanks to generous support from the Margaret Chase Smith Foundation, prizes have increased this year to $1000 for first place, $500 for second, $250 for third and $50 for five honorable mention prizes. Entries are due by Monday, April 1, and prizes will be announced on May 1.