Thursday October 18, 2012 | 11:28 AM

The Maine Education Association, the state's principal teacher's union, issued a report this morning critical of full-time virtual charter schools, which they say should not be allowed to open in Maine.

The 12-page report, "Virtual Failure: The Growth of Online Charter Schools", examines the track record of the two out-of-state companies seeking to manage such schools in Maine -- K12 Inc. and Connections Learning -- and concludes that their schools fail students while diverting resources from existing public schools.

"As educators we cannot let virtual charter schools open in Maine," MEA president Lois Kilby-Chesley is quoted as saying. "There is too much reearch that proves these schools fail our students while turning pupils into profits for out-of-state companies."

The Maine Sunday Telegram's investigation of the role the two companies have been playing in Maine isn't mentioned in the report, which focuses on their track records in other states, and relies heavily on investigations by the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado.

The ostensibly indepedent, Maine-based boards of the proposed Maine schools that would be managed by the companies -- Maine Virtual Academy and Maine Connections Academy -- have filed paperwork indicating they will be reapplying for charters at the end of the month. The independent board that issues charters tabled both entities' applications earlier this year, provoking an angry letter from Gov. Paul LePage.

Democratic groups have used the issue against Maine Republican Party vice chair Ruth Summers, who chairs the board of Maine Connections Academy, is married to Republican US Senate nominee Charlie Summers, and is herself running for Maine Senate in the Scarborough area.





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Open Season is your guide to the 2014 campaign. Our team of political writers has its sights set on Maine’s major elections, from the Blaine House to the U.S. Capitol.

Steve Mistler is covering the 2014 governor's race. He covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.
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Eric Russell is covering Independent Eliot Cutler during the 2014 governor's race. He is a general assignment reporter for the Portland Press Herald.
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Randy Billings is covering Democrat Mike Michaud during the 2014 governor's race. He covers Portland City Hall for the Portland Press Herald.
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Kevin Miller is covering Maine's U.S. Senate race and 1st Congressional District race. He covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald.
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