Maine’s failure to enact charter schools continues to embarass

Maine’s failure to enact charter schools continues to embarass

June 16, 2009 Posted by Maine Heritage Policy Center - No Comments

What is Maine’s reputation as a result of the legislature’s continuing refusal to enact charter school legislation in the face of demands from Washington that it do so?

The new issue of Education Week, the nation’s “paper of record” on education issues, features an article on how the Obama administration’s push for charters seems to be resulting in real reforms — in states other than Maine.

The paper observes that Illinois recently raised its charter cap in response to pressure from the Obama team, and that Boston Mayor Tom Menino, who “has been skeptical of charters for years, suddenly shifted positions
last week to say he favors turning the city’s low-performing schools
into charters.”

Then there is this paragraph:

And in Maine, where charter advocates have failed for years to enact a
law to allow the schools to operate, lawmakers last week defeated a
measure to allow the first 10 charters to open. That action took place
on the same day that Mr. Duncan, in a press release and a conference
call with reporters, singled the state out as one that would likely be
at the back of the line for Race to the Top funds
.

Ugh. What a disgrace.

Even here in Maine, the Kennebec Journal excoriated lawmakers for their failure to enact charters:

Lawmakers weren’t interested in innovation when it came to charter
schools, however, and continued their stubborn refusal to allow this
form of public school to operate in the state. It was a classic case of
ignoring their real constituents and bowing to interest groups —
teacher unions and principals — who feel threatened by the
nontraditional institutions.

So, in an era in which a new president calls for innovation and change, Maine continues to resist such moves. It will be interesting to see Washington’s reaction, but my guess is it will not be good.

And why should it?