Charter School legislation coming up


Today’s Bangor Daily News
describes upcoming legislation that would, at long last, authorize charter
schools for Maine.  Maine is one of only 10 states in the nation that does
not allow the development of charter schools, which have been hugely
in states across the nation.

allows for the development of up to 20 charter schools for a ten year
pilot program. This restriction on the number
of charters is needless, but at this
point we’ll take what we can get.

Of some concern is a provision of the bill that allows only the following
groups to be charter authorizers:

1.  A local school board within the boundaries of a
school administrative unit;

A collaborative among local school boards and other eligible authorizing
entities that form to set up a public charter school for their region; or

A college or university located in the State that offers a baccalaureate degree
in education.

other states, community groups, non-profits, for-profits and a whole host of
groups can form charter schools. Under
this bill, citizens interested in developing a charter school have to go on
bended knee before the very people who are under-educating their children now, the
local public school systems. What public school system is going to allow the
development of a charter school that will compete against it directly?

Remember, the public school
establishment, of which the universities are a part, is the problem. If the public school establishment was effective,
we wouldn’t need charter schools. Now we’re
going to give that same establishment the power to oversee the charter schools
that are created, which will no doubt limit their freedom to innovate.

Despite this serious flaw, the
bill does represent a big step forward for
a state that trails most of the nation in the level of innovation it has
brought to K-12 education. It will make us,
finally, the 41st state to allow the creation of charter schools.

The public hearing on the bill is
scheduled for Thursday, May 7th.