New Report Shows Widespread Support for School Choice in Maine

New Report Shows Widespread Support for School Choice in Maine

October 29, 2008 Posted by Steve Bowen - No Comments

Our friends at the University of Maine have just released a report, done in cooperation with the Penquis Superintendents’ Association, which shows that preserving school choice was a critical issue for many communities in Maine as they faced the school district consolidation mandate, enough so that it was seen as a major barrier.

Consider the following findings form the report:

Page 23: Developing a partnership with a community that had school choice was a concern of many respondents. The possibility that these communities would send students to high schools outside the RSU was a major concern and many school choice communities were adamant that school choice be preserved. Although the reorganization law protects school choice, many involved in the RPC process expressed doubts about the stability of protections. One superintendent expressed this as follows,

“Where the law allowed for choice, that the choice might remain. There’s a great
deal of mistrust in the state government. One of the things I consistently heard from
people was: “Well, that’s what the law says right now, but what about five years
from now?”

Page 33: On the survey, 93% of the RPC member respondents indicated that potential
loss of local control was a significant/ highly significant challenge…65% indicated that
concern about loss of school choice in some communities was significant.

Page 34: A community representative said, “What citizens in my town wanted, we wanted to stay in control of our schools and we want to keep school choice–high school choice. That may be the biggest issue. . . . The law is written to say that school choice will stay, but we were suspicious. We felt that over time, there would be pressure to send our kids to
[high school A]

Page 73:  The findings from this research suggest that the lack of support for school district reorganization is rooted in four fundamental problems: 1) pressure from time constraints and mandates; 2) lack of confidence in the stability of the initiative; 3) lack of credibility of primary goals; and 4) threats to local values around governance and school choice.

It is good to see such strong support for school choice still out there across Maine. Now let’s hope the people in Raymond and Orland, both of whom will vote on whether or not to keep school choice next week, have the same passion for keeping their school choice rights…