Wednesday, December 11, 2013
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.
Open Season targets all of Maine's political wildlife, from Portland city government to the donkeys, elephants and independents stalking the Statehouse and U.S. Capitol.
John Richardson joined the Press Herald in 1990 after working as a reporter in New Jersey. He has covered a variety of beats, including marine issues, the environment and health care. He is now covering politics and focusing on Maine's U.S. Senate race.
John can be reached at 791-6324 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @jrichmaine
Colin Woodard has covered politics and elections for more than two decades, from Bosnia and Bucharest to Washington, D.C., Augusta, and Portland City Hall. He has written for a wide range of national and international publications and is the author of four books, including "American Nations," a history of North America's regional cultures. He joined the Portland Press Herald at the end of April and covers political finance and lobbying, among other things.
Colin can be reached at 791-6317 or email@example.com
Susan Cover has covered Maine politics for 10 years and worked in Kansas, Ohio and Rhode Island as a reporter. This year, she is focusing on covering the same-sex marriage debate for MaineToday Media.
Susan can be reached at 621-5643 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Shepherd joined MaineToday Media in May 2012 after graduating from the University of Maine in Orono, where he edited The Maine Campus, the student newspaper there. Until November he'll be writing the Truth Test, a recurring feature analyzing political statements and advertising.
Michael can be reached at 621-5632 or email@example.com