Wednesday, May 22, 2013
By CHERYL CLUKEY
Did the author of your editorial ("Our View: Mixed report card for new charter schools" July 22) read Maine's charter school law?
Charter schools are public, open to all students. You accused Baxter Academy of being "elitist." Not so. All students who wish to attend this STEM school will be accepted. There may be many reasons for the wording, "best and brightest." Many students aren't being challenged to any science and math beyond text books. Our nation's math and science standings are dismal. You only have to look at the high percentage of foreigners who are sitting in the seats of Maine science and math graduate programs, not our students.
Maine's dropout rate, the percentage of college students taking remedial courses and the percentage of students who drop out after a year is dismal. Even the Maine State Chamber of Commerce is economically concerned about the educational ability of Maine's students. Their skills do not match the job requirements.
Limestone's magnet school was opposed with the same arguments used against charter schools: It will be elitist, be a brain drain, public schools will have no money nor motivated students. Well, this did not happen.
Most of the students who attend Maine School of Science and Mathematics are smart but are nontraditional students who just don't fit into their high schools and have very different learning styles. Baxter Academy charter school will open with students with a variety of academic levels and needs. Charter schools have a high level of accountability and are monitored frequently, which, for all their funding, does not exist for public schools.
As for Cornville, one needs only to read their 650 page application to see that their curriculum includes educational innovations and a vision very different from area public elementary schools. Yes, there are hurdles to resolve. But this rural community is a pioneer in educational choices and possibilities for rural communities throughout Maine. A good beginning.
Cheryl Clukey is a resident of Augusta.