Robbie Feinberg

Education News Producer

Robbie grew up in New Hampshire, but has since written stories for radio stations from Washington, DC, to a fishing village in Alaska. Robbie graduated from the University of Maryland and got his start in public radio at the Transom Story Workshop in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Before arriving at Maine Public Radio, he worked in the Midwest, where he covered everything from beer to migrant labor for public radio station WMUK in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Ways to Connect

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

For generations, high school students in northern Maine have taken a three-week break from classes every fall to harvest potatoes. But the acreage has shrunk over the past 50 years, and technology has reduced the demand for labor, which means far fewer teenagers are working in the fields of Aroostook County.

In the town of Presque Isle, the school board is looking at a new approach that could end the tradition of the October break and bring the harvest into the classroom.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

Starting three years from now, high school students in Maine won’t be able to graduate by just earning enough credits — they’ll need to have mastered a set of standards in subjects including math, English and science. Some schools are taking new approaches to help students meet the new proficiency standards — but some educators are still worried that a large percentage of students may not be able to make the grade.

Police plan to charge a 17-year-old Lewiston High School student with terrorizing following an alleged shooting threat on social media Tuesday night.

Lewiston administrators began hearing from parents and community members about an alleged threat on social media by a student at Lewiston High School on Tuesday night. A screenshot of the message provided by Lewiston school officials suggested that the student’s friend was planning on “shooting up the school.”

Maine Gov. Paul LePage speaks during a conference of New England's governors and eastern Canada's premiers to discuss closer regional collaboration, Monday, Aug. 29, 2016, in Boston.
AP Photo/Elise Amendola

A federal judge has ordered Gov. Paul LePage to release about $3 million in federal job training funds to one of Maine’s three regional workforce boards.

The decision comes four months after the governor refused to release about $8 million in federal funds that are intended to go to the regional boards, including about $3 million for Coastal Counties Workforce, Inc., based in Brunswick.

LePage has repeatedly tried to consolidate the boards into one to reduce administrative costs, but those efforts have been rejected by federal officials.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

Like a lot of states, Maine has a shortage of teachers. According to the U.S. Department of Education, schools are struggling to find people to fill positions ranging from librarians to Spanish teachers.

Oak Hill High School Principal Marco Aliberti works with a student in English class as part of a revamped course structure in the school.
Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

Beginning this year, high school freshmen in Maine have to work toward a new kind of "proficiency-based" diploma. Under the new requirement, students must be "proficient" in a number of subjects by the time they reach their senior year. Reaching the standards is a tall order.

Local workforce officials argued in court on Monday that Gov. Paul LePage needed to release about $8 million in federal job training funds and said they were already affecting job seekers across Maine.

The lawsuit, from the regional workforce board Coastal Counties Workforce Inc., is asking LePage to release the funds from the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. LePage decided to withhold them earlier this year due to disagreements over the structure of Maine’s workforce boards.

Tempers flared Friday between local economic development directors and state officials over changes to state policies, as well as the governor’s refusal to release more than $8 million in federal job training funds.

Federal funds are supposed to be distributed to local workforce boards across the state, which work with service providers to train tens of thousands of job seekers. Currently, less than 40 percent of the funds to local boards go to direct job training and tuition. Much of the rest goes toward case management and counseling.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

At most any high school in Maine you will find Advanced Placement classes, which are more challenging, and designed to help students prepare for college. Nationally, minority students have often been underrepresented in many AP classes — but one Maine high school has transformed theirs, and welcomed in many more minority students in the process.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

In Oak Hill High School’s efforts to implement new, proficiency-based graduation requirements, one department is held up as a prime example of what this new kind of education should look like. It’s not math, English or science — but physical education.

Maine’s first-year high schoolers this year will make history. They will be the first class that needs to meet a new requirement in order to graduate four years from now — they’ll have to demonstrate that they are proficient in a number of standards in order to receive a diploma.

This is the first in an extended series of reports on how this law is changing the way schools operate called “Lessons From Oak Hill,” focusing on the experiences of Regional School Unit 4, northwest of Lewiston.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

Students entering high school this year in Maine will be the first in the country to graduate with a new kind of diploma. Instead of amassing a set number of credits, they’ll need to show that they’re “proficient” and meet certain standards.

It’s a change that’s been nearly a decade in the making. But some educators are still worried about what it will mean for students and teachers.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

Faced with a choice of two proposals, Portland voters came out overwhelmingly in support of a $64 million bond Tuesday night to renovate four of the city’s public elementary schools.

Nearly two-thirds of Portland residents supported the project, which will renovate the city’s Longfellow, Reiche, Presumpscot and Lyseth elementary schools. Currently, the schools have problems such as overcrowding and unmet structural issues.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

For years, businesses in Maine have feared the coming of the “silver tsunami,” when thousands of baby boomers are projected to leave the workforce, expected to take place over the next few decades.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press/file

One of Maine’s regional workforce boards is suing Gov. Paul LePage and Labor Commissioner John Butera over the state’s decision to turn down about $8 million in federal funds for job training.

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