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

Caroline Losneck / Maine Public/file

Tonight, the Portland Board of Education will hold a hearing on resolutions that supporters say are intended to protect students from hate speech and to assure that teachers can speak freely about political issues in class.

University of Maine at Presque Isle

While more high school students in Maine are going on to college these days, they’re taking their time to graduate.

Educators are encouraged by news that Gov. Paul LePage intends to nominate a permanent education commissioner for the first time in more than a year.

Last week, LePage told the State Board of Education that he intends to nominate acting education commissioner Robert Hasson to the permanent position, which has been empty since 2014.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

A new initiative is aiming to boost Maine’s labor force by paying off workers’ student debt.

The Alfond Leaders program is a partnership between the Finance Authority of Maine and the Harold Alfond Foundation. Under the new three-year, $5.5 million program, about 150 Maine employees in the science, technology, engineering and math fields will be eligible to receive up to $60,000 to pay off student loans.

Alfond Foundation Chairman Greg Powell says the idea of the program is to keep Maine’s graduates in the state, and potentially lure workers away from other states as well.

The word “expulsion” probably brings to mind disruptive high-schoolers. But in fact, many children are expelled as early as preschool. New research shows that in Maine, nearly a quarter of childcare centers have expelled a child in the past year.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

With the recent barrage of storms canceling school across Maine, district officials are weighing their options on how to make up so many snow days.

Most schools build in about five snow days into the school calendar. Unfortunately, many districts, including Portland and South Portland, have already hit that limit.

South Portland Superintendent Ken Kunin says the upcoming storms could wind up extending the school year into the last week of June.

“We really don’t wanna go there if we don’t have to. But we’ll take it if it comes,” he says.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

While school funding is at the center of public debate right now, educators are wrestling with another problem, too: how to measure student success.

A state education task force wants Maine to increase teacher pay, expand preschool programs and change the state’s funding formula to improve education.

The state’s blue ribbon education commission laid out those recommendations in a report adopted on Wednesday. The report also includes recommendations to explore a statewide teacher contract as well as create new programs to recruit teachers for poor and rural schools.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

It’s a two-word phrase that’s music to the ears of schoolkids across Maine: “snow day”. The rush to catch the bus turns instead to plans of sledding, making snowmen or just relaxing.

Portland’s superintendent is pledging to protect the district’s students following an alleged hate crime targeting four students last week.

In an open letter, Portland Superintendent Xavier Botana condemned the alleged attack on four Casco Bay High School students on Friday.

Lead Teacher Beverly Foss teachers her first-grade class at Athens Elementary School.
File photo: Robbie Feinberg/Maine Public

Once again, school funding is under heavy scrutiny in the state Legislature. Voters passed a surtax in November to increase state education funding.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public file

Only about 60 percent of Maine public school students are considered “proficient” in science. Elementary and middle schoolers devote less than two hours a week to the subject, and barely half of middle schools have lab stations or supplies. But a new effort from some Maine schools seeks to help students by actually eliminating standalone science and social studies classrooms.

The basic school schedule hasn’t changed much from 10 or 20 years ago. Students still go from, say, math class in one period to English class in another. Then to science, social studies and on and on.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

Over the past 15 years, Portland Public Schools have undergone a major transformation. While enrollment has fallen, the percentage of black and African youth has increased by more than 150 percent, due to an influx of refugees and immigrants.

That presents new challenges for educators, but the district has adopted a new approach to help make schools more welcoming to students of color.

The Maine Department of Education is offering more than $3 million in grants to encourage schools to consolidate and share services between districts.

In a statement, Acting Education Comissioner Robert Hasson says the grants will be used to create new models for schools to share services. The department says that could include districts sharing teachers, maintenance contracts or technical education centers.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

One of the biggest stories of this election cycle was the rise of “fake news” — false news stories that look real but aren’t. They often go viral on social media, and some say they helped influence the election.

While many social media sites are trying to stop the spread, Maine educators are stepping up, too, helping students differentiate between fact and fiction.

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