There are many changes that need to be made to improve the state of Maine's economy. Some of these changes can be immediate changes, some are short term, and some are long term changes that will occur over this four-year term. Some immediate changes are going to be around the education system, short term changes are going to be fixing low income parts of Maine as well as immigration, and long-term changes are going to involve fixing unemployment as well as keeping employment in Maine.
The immediate changes that need to take place is going to be revolved around the education system. This is not for secondary schools such as colleges and universities. This is to assist grades K-12 students in becoming the best they can be and assuring they reach their maximum potential. How we are going to do this is by switching to the standardize education program also known as common core. This has been implemented in Maine cities such as Westbrook and Cape Elizabeth however these are only for math classes and are slowly being implemented into the new generation of students.
However, this change needs to be implemented immediately to assure that our state has as high of an education program as we can. This program requires that you pass each unit in a course with an 85 or higher. This allows teachers to know for sure that students have learned the material given and are not being pushed through grades. This is a frequent problem for the modern-day grade school kids, they are being pushed through when not ready. In public schools an 85 is a B- and will require a student to push students to achieve. The passing requirement is a 70 which is far too low to have a strong educational program which is going to be the backbone of all our solutions to help Maine's economy.
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Some changes that can't be made immediately but can be solved soon are fixing lower income cities and areas throughout Maine such as Westbrook, Portland, and Lewiston. How we are going to do this is invest in better rehabilitation programs as introduce and educate the youth on the effects of drugs. Currently, the popular drugs are opioids and heroin. These drugs are very popular in these three cities in Maine with as many as 418 deaths from the usage of heroin alone.
This statistic does not include pills or other drugs and does not include the amount of people estimated to be using. This is an increase by 40% increase from 2016 to 2017. We need to make sure these people aren't getting incarcerated and untreated just so they can come out of penitentiaries worse off than when they went in. Many of these users and recovers get place in Section 8 housing which is a cheaper alternative for people of lower class status can still maintain a living space.
However, as good of an idea as this may seem, there is much fixing that needs to be done. Many immigrants that come from primarily Iraq and Somalia also live in Section 8 housing as it is a cheap place for them to live so they don't come to the United States homeless. This is an unpleasant environment for newcomers to arrive in. As many of these people are from war torn countries and having that easy access to drugs may persuade them to not to do right with their new life in the states. As for the recoverees and ones trying to recover, getting thrown back into Section 8 housing after incarceration or rehabilitation is just asking for them to go back to their old lifestyle as a drug addict. By educating the youth and investing in better rehabilitation programs instead of just incarcerating our people, we can create a stronger, more educated workforce.
Some long-term fixes that we can expect to make over the next 4 years is fixing unemployment and keeping employment in our own state. Maine currently has a 2.7% unemployment rate and has the 3rd lowest unemployment rate in the country, which is great but we can always look to improve and do better. We must stop making cuts in the educational departments and make budget cuts in areas such as defense as we spent 2.6 billion dollars in defense alone in 2015. If we could cut some of that money out and invest in job creation programs this could help reduce Maine's unemployment rate tremendously.
The second-long term fix we can make is keeping our Maine residents working in our state after college. I suggest we use the idea of making the first two years of education free for students if they work in Maine for 10 years after they are graduated, and this will be covered upon completion. Many high school graduates do not want to attend college do to the ridiculous price it costs to be educated in this country and we can't blame them for not wanting to attend for that reason. This will allow young adults, immigrants, and people of lower income to be guaranteed and education and allows them a place in the workforce.
To review what we expect to accomplish over the next 4 years is going to be the transition to the standardized program by the next school year, invest in better rehabilitation programs and fix lower income cities throughout Maine, and lower the unemployment rate by covering an associate's degree for all Maine residents as long as they work in this state for 10 years after they graduate as well as cut down on defense. My closing statement being a more educated workforce is a stronger workforce. This will allow people to be more versatile and useful in our society.
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