After being tossed back and forth between the Maine House and Senate, LD1438 (the Charter School Bill) is dead. The Senate upheld its decision that the bill “ought not to pass” 20 to 14. This is a great disappointment to many, including myself. The distinction of being one of 10 states yet to implement some form of charter schools is not one I’m proud of. The Maine Association for Charter Schools had this to say
In a sad commentary on our Government’s concern for the children not currently served well by public education in Maine, the Senate voted 20-14 to “adhere” to their previous decision, not to allow public charter schools in Maine.
MACS is already debriefing our campaign this session and looking ahead to the January 2010 second session when we’ll have a new opportunity to pass a charter school bill. We plan to keep fighting for the rights of all students and parents, of all income levels, to have choices within Maine’s system of public education.
Maine may have shot itself in the foot on this one. Apparently those who voted LD 1438 down do not follow what US Ed Sec Arne Duncan has been saying. Arne “Slam Dunk” Duncan released a statement concerning which states will be awarded part of the $4.35 billion education stimulus. Dunc’s words are rather clear; support the reforms we advise, including charters, or you may be holding out your empty hands forever.
from Press Herald:
States like Maine that don’t allow charter schools are putting themselves at a “competitive disadvantage” when it comes to applying for education reform funds, the country’s top education official said Monday.
The 10 states that do not allow charter schools and the 26 that put caps on the number they allow will endanger their chances for awards from a $4.35 billion education innovation fund that’s part of the federal economic stimulus package, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said.
“They put themselves at a competitive disadvantage for the largest pool of dollars states have ever had access to,” Duncan said during a conference call with reporters. “We want to invest in states that push a reform agenda.”
I’m not sure what legislators were so scared of. The LD 1438 was a solid proposal. The authors designed the bill to protect against corporate schools, fairly accept those who wish to attend, provide funding, and implement useful innovations like virtual charters. No, Maine is apparently content with continuing to be backwater. While Augusta scratches its collective heads when trying to figure out why young Mainers leave the state ASAP, those who watched things like LD 1438 pass us by will know. And when our education budget is sorely missing those stimulus funds we will stifle the urge to say I told you so.