Charter school bill dead, Maine held out as an example of what NOT to do

Charter school bill dead, Maine held out as an example of what NOT to do

June 9, 2009 Posted by Maine Heritage Policy Center - No Comments

On the same day that the Maine Senate killed the charter school bill for good, the U.S. Department of Education identified Maine, by name, as one of the states that “will jeopardize their applications under the Race to the Top Fund” as a consequence of its failure to support charter schools.

The Department’s press release, which can be found here, states that “a network of innovative and high-achieving charter schools can be an
important part of a state’s school reform effort. However, charter
schools are facing significant obstacles to expansion in too many states
.

For example:

  • Ten states do not have laws allowing public charter schools;
  • In the 40 states with charters, 26 put artificial caps on the
    number of public charter schools and President Obama has called on
    states to lift these caps and other barriers to having a healthy
    network of charter schools throughout the country;
  • In Maine, the state legislature is debating a bill that would establish a pilot program for its first 10 charter schools;
  • Tennessee has not moved on a bill to lift enrollment restrictions on charter schools; and
  • In Indiana, the legislature is considering a moratorium on new charter schools.

These actions,” the Department concludes,are restricting reforms, limiting choices for parents
and students, and denying children access to new high-quality
instruction.
” 

Despite this shot over the bow from Washington, the Maine Senate voted on Monday to “adhere” to its vote, last Thursday, against charter schools. The roll-call vote is available here, a vote of yes is a vote against charter schools. The bill is now dead.

So, Maine, with its motto of Dirigo (I Lead), leads the nation yet again, this time for being one of the last states in the nation that continues to outlaw charter schools, in defiance of calls from Washington to do otherwise. As a consequence, Maine will almost certainly find itself out of the running as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan looks for states in which to invest the almost $5 billion in innovation funding he has at his disposal.

Mainers can’t be bought, Mr. Secretary!  Nor will they be cowed by harsh words from Washington!

We’ll show you! We will continue to maintain the status quo, continue to resist calls to innovate, continue to spend more per-pupil than most states to buy mediocre results, continue to trail the nation in student achievement and degree attainment, and continue to watch, unmoved, as a steady stream of young families leaves our state for opportunities elsewhere.

Take that, Washington!