School Choice working for families in Lincoln County
column by Matt Stone in this weekend’s Kennebec Journal outlines how
Wiscasset High School is working to attract students in the new RSU of which it
is part, and how all the families in the region are benefiting from the
competition school choice brings.
The new Sheepscot Valley RSU “stretches from Westport Island in the south
to Palermo in the north to Chelsea in the west.” Wiscasset High, the
only public high school in the RSU, is working to attract students from
the northern part of the new RSU, whose students have traditionally attended
Erskine Academy in China or Cony High School in Augusta.
As I am quoted as saying in the piece, this is a smart move for
Wiscasset. They have a declining enrollment, and history shows that when
area students have a choice, they have often chosen to go elsewhere:
“Nearly all Whitefield students attended Wiscasset High School when the
two towns had a contract. But the contract has since lapsed, and just three
Whitefield students attended the high school in the 2007-08 school year,
according to the Maine Department of Education.”
It remains to be seen what steps Wiscasset High will take, aside from launching
the marketing effort described in the article, to attract more students.
Ideally, the school will launch whatever reforms are necessary to improve
student outcomes, and thus attract more students as a result of being a
high-performing school. Wiscasset’s being better will force its
competitors to be better, with the end result that through competition, all
schools in the area improve.
That is the beauty of what Winslow High School Principal Doug Carville calls
“healthy competition” between schools.
So, families in Lincoln County have school choice, what about the rest of
Maine? Stay tuned…