The demonstration of bipartisan support for LD1422, a bill to create standards-based graduation requirements for Maine schools, strongly suggests how Republican legislators can achieve policy goals without creating unnecessary animus.
The key is building on the familiar rather than going for shock value. An emphasis on standards-based education has been years in the making, building on many earlier iterations and efforts (as excellently documented by Brian Hubbell at MDIschools.net). If a party is truly committed to a policy, it shows in the effort that’s repeatedly made to achieve those goals. Over time, members advocate and build cross-party support. It seems like DoE Commissioner Stephen Bowen is making the rounds and continuing to advocate for the future passage of other existing goals, so there’s no reason to believe that LD1422 will be his last policy success.
Compare this with the train wreck occurring under DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew’s leadership. If Republicans were as serious about reforming state policy within the Department of Health and Human Services as they are about education policy, they’d do well to consider the LD1422 model instead of what they’ve got going now.