Change Wont Be Coming To Maine

Maine’s state motto is Dirigo, which translated means “I lead”. In one of life’s ironic little slaps in the face Maine is seldom a leader or innovator. Although we are the oldest and whitest state for whatever that’s worth. Maine has never been synonymous with education innovation. 40 states have some form of charter schools. Maine is not one of them. One writer to the Bangor Daily News laments the loss of that innovation in the Pine Tree State.

from Bangor Daily News:

We voted for President Obama by a wide margin. He campaigned for change. We voted for it.

When it comes to public charter schools, “Dirigo” is bitter and ironic. Maine isn’t even following. We are about to pass up the chance to be the 41st state to allow these tools for improving public education.

President Obama campaigned strongly for public charter schools. He and the research community found that these schools help ordinary families get schooling choices the rich get now, and they foster innovation in public schools.

Carrots shouldn’t be needed for such obvious reforms, but President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are offering them. There are grants for startup expenses of up to $450,000 over three years per charter school. Distribution of $4.3 billion in phase 2 stimulus grants — the Race to the Top money — will depend on how well states support and expand their public charter school programs.

By turning down voluntary public charter schools, the Legislature would be saying no to change. The vested interests of the status quo will have won again. In buckling to the forces of reaction, not only would the Legislature turn its back on huge federal grants at a time when state employees are forced to take pay cuts. They would be saying no to more public-school options for Maine’s children and the educators who want to provide them.

There’s another Maine view. You all can read mine on this issue here and here.

UPDATE: We now are vying for the longest lobster roll.

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