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Senator Angus King Visits CBHS and Presumpscot

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Senator Angus King Visits CBHS and Presumpscot
Posted on 04/02/2015
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After an April 1 tour of Casco Bay High School – known for its innovative learning strategies – Senator Angus King (I-Maine) that same day announced a plan to introduce legislation to ensure Maine and other states “aren’t bound by a one-size-fits-all testing regime and can focus more on learning.”

King toured several schools in Southern Maine on April 1, but he chose the Portland Public Schools’ Presumpscot Elementary School as the site to make his announcement that he intends to introduce legislation that will provide Maine and other states with a pathway to reduce the number of federally-mandated standardized tests students must take to be in compliance with the “No Child Left Behind” law.

The announcement came after a lunch roundtable at the school, where King joined with National Board Certified Teachers and administrators to discuss the upcoming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the challenges and opportunities faced by the Portland Public Schools when it comes to the law.  The law is better known by its moniker, “No Child Left Behind.”

King plans to work to recalibrate the law and eliminate its one-size-fits-all approach by restoring the longstanding roles played by state and local governments in primary and secondary education.

Prior to the roundtable at Presumpscot, King toured Casco Bay High School (CBHS), where he met with students and teachers to discuss Maine’s advancements in implementing proficiency-based learning.

CBHS is the Portland Public Schools’ newest high school – it’s 10 years old this year – and is a Mentor school within the Expeditionary Learning network that is recognized as a national leader in project-based learning.

King met first with CBHS Principal Derek Pierce. Pierce won the Nellie Mae Foundation’s Third Annual Larry O’Toole Award last fall, given to a school leader who exhibits innovation in student-centered learning approaches. Pierce won $100,000 to benefit students at the school.

King quizzed Pierce on the school and its learning strategies and visited school classrooms. One was a physics classroom,  where students were engaged in making miniature racecars with a 3-D printer and using principles of physics to design cars that could win an upcoming race.

King finished his visit by meeting with members of the CBHS Student Cabinet. He asked students why they chose to attend CBHS. Portland students can choose to attend any of the school’s three high schools – Portland, Deering or CBHS – regardless of where they live in the city.

Senior Paige Pelzer said she was drawn to CBHS because it’s “a small, tight community” where she felt she could “grow as a person.”

Sophomore Matt Suslovic told King that he likes CBHS because students learn “more of the things we’re going to be seeing in the real world.”

King, who was elected to be Maine's 72nd Governor in 1994 and then re-elected in 1998, launched the Maine Learning Technology Initiative to provide laptops for every public middle-school student in the state of Maine, the first program  of its kind in the nation. He asked the CBHS students about the technology they use.

The students told him they primarily use iPads, not laptops. Matt Suslovic added, “It’s been a while since we used textbooks. Mostly we use them as paperweights.”

King afterwards said he was pleased that technology is now such an integral part of students’ school lives that for them it seems routine. “That’s as it should be,” he said.
Presumpscot School Welcomes Sen. King