PORTLAND — Once again the Legislature is considering adding Maine to the list of states that allow charter schools.

And once again columnist Ron Bancroft is giving his stamp of approval to the charter school movement (“Tide is turning toward approving charter schools,” May 17).

Bancroft writes that the opposition from the four horsemen of the education establishment (the associations that represent teachers, school boards, superintendents, and principals) is diminished now that the Republicans have taken charge of the State House.

The Republicans, he states, are more open to charter schools legislation and favor the initiative for charter schools.

Incidentally, if Bancroft were more forthright, he may have mentioned that you might find apocryphal riders on both ends of the corral (The Chamber of Commerce, the Maine Department of Education, the Maine Association of Charter Schools, and the Center for Educational Reform).

Apparently, Mr. Bancroft is joined by Stephen Bowen, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Education, who has jumped on the charter school bandwagon (Charter schools could offer more diverse options to Maine families,” Maine Voices, May 19).

Bowen feels that charter schools are popular with families “because they offer students and families what we all want in so many other aspects of our lives, which is options. It is student and family choice that brings accountability to public charter schools.”

He states, “They are not a silver bullet that will solve all of our educational problems, but they are a promising reform … .”

However, neither Bancroft nor Bowen mention the following negatives the charter movement will bring:

The charter school movement is designed to eventually become a profitable enterprise.

Control of our public schools will be taken from local school boards and vested with business interests.

Bargaining rights for teachers will be eliminated.

Charter schools will further deplete funds for our public schools.

So far, Maine people have been hesitant in following the 40 states that have been seduced into accepting the charter school movement.

As a retired educator, I firmly believe that the last thing Maine needs is a charter school movement competing for public funds. Maine is one of 11 states that has retained its independently run schools.

Let’s keep it that way.


– Special to The Press Herald