Maine education chief hails passage of No Child Left Behind rewrite

Good morning, folks, and happy Friday to you and yours.

It’s been a relatively interesting week on the politics front with lots of news generated by the Legislature and Gov. Paul LePage. If the $4.8 million deal struck this week on fighting the drug epidemic holds together until enactment next year, Maine will have moved the needle significantly on its efforts to bust dealers and treat addicts.

However, there was another milestone this week in which Maine arguably moved another needle infinitely more. The first new Zumwalt-class destroyer gliding from Bath Iron Works down the Kennebec River for its first trip to sea was a major human achievement that has been in the pipeline for years. Regardless of your thoughts about warships in general, it should be a major point of pride that such a jump forward in technology — a 600-foot-long ship that will look like a fishing vessel on enemy radar — happened right here in humble Bath, Maine.

Congratulations to BIW and the thousands of workers who have put thousands of hours into the project. — Christopher Cousins

Maine DOE ‘cautiously optimistic’ about Congress’s NCLB rewrite

On Thursday, President Barack Obama capped a years-long congressional negotiatoin when he signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, which is the new version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which was the new version of the No Child Left Behind Act.

The new law gives states increased flexibility to design accountability systems, academic interventions and supports for students. It also loosens some of the strings tied to the use of federal funds. Maine has already achieved some of those provisions with a waiver it won earlier this year that distanced the state from the old version of the law. Click here for a White House summary of the new law.

Acting Education Commissioner Bill Beardsley said his department will be clarifying what the new law means for Maine between now and when the state’s waiver expires in August 2016.

“It is clear the feds will no longer dictate specific standards, shifting many of these and related responsibilities to the state and local communities,” said Beardsley in a written statement. “At the same time, states must continue testing Maine students every year and continue placing extra effort in helping Maine’s most disadvantaged students.” — Christopher Cousins

Here’s why you might actually watch the Republican National Convention

It’s still months away, but the Republican National Convention in July could be a doozy if discussions among top party officials this week become reality.

According to reports, the prospect of a brokered convention was raised earlier this week during a dinner hosted by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. Normally, who the presidential nominees are is decided by the time the party holds its national convention, but Donald Trump’s leading candidacy — and many mainstream Republicans’ opposition to it — has put that notion on its head. Trump is likely to go into the convention with some primary wins under his belt, but not all of them.

That raised the prospect of a major debate on the convention floor and possibly a number of votes until a single candidate wins majority approval.

A lot can happen between now and the convention, but the prospect of the nominee being decided in a matter of hours after a more than year-long primary campaign will make for some of the most interesting live political theater we’ve seen in a long time. — Christopher Cousins

Reading list

Wanting to be like Mike

Readers have undoubtedly noticed Mike Shepherd’s hilarious “Best of Craigslist” entries here at the end of DB, which we reserve for the funny and ridiculous. I was excited last night when “Craigs List” came up as a category on Jeopardy. I hoped that I would be able to learn something interesting and relevant about Craigslist to share with you this morning.

As it turned out most of the answers — I mean questions — were about people named Craig. I doubt I could interest you with a tidbit about Craig T. Nelson.

The contestants sailed through the category until the $1,000 answer: “He’s the Craig who founded Craigslist.” All three contestants, who would thrash me in a game of Trivial Pursuit unless there were categories about goats or classic rock, flopped and couldn’t answer the question.

“CRAIG NEWMARK!” I shouted. Boom.

By now I’m sure you’re wishing Mike were at the controls and this were another installment of Best of Maine’s Craigslist. Frankly, so am I. — Christopher Cousins

Your soundtrack

I received a musical request from a Daily Brief reader yesterday, who said if he were reincarnated he’d end up on the Jersey shore. After that comment (New Jersey, really?) I’ll conceal his identity, but here you go: one of the best live-via-YouTube Springsteen performances I’ve ever seen.

Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.