Politics

August 1, 2013

LePage 'offended' by charter school criticisms

At a Heritage Policy Center luncheon, he blasts Sen. Justin Alfond's family background and criticism of the school for hosting the conservative group.

By Noel K. Gallagher ngallagher@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Gov. Paul LePage shares a light moment with Allison Crean Davis, vice chairwoman of the Baxter Academy board, and others during the Maine Heritage Policy Center luncheon at the charter school in Portland on Wednesday.

John Patriquin / Staff Photographer

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Charlotte Iserbyt of Dresden and Steve Schran of New Gloucester protested outside the Maine Heritage Policy Center luncheon at Baxter Academy in Portland on Wedmnesday, July 31, 2013.

John Patriquin / Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

Related Documents

Read Gov. LePage's letter to Sen. Alfond

Baxter Academy is one of five charter schools approved in Maine. State law calls for a 10-school cap.

LePage told the audience that he supports school choice, and Baxter Academy. He recounted his parochial school education at St. Mary's in Lewiston and gave examples of successful students at some of the state's new charter schools.

"I'm determined that we bring education reform to Maine," LePage said. "It's vital we get away from the status quo in education."

In his letter, he said Alfond is "pandering to school union bosses."

"(You) and the school union bosses have been fighting tirelessly to deny Maine students the choice of where they can get the best education," he wrote.

Alfond countered by pointing to his record as a lawmaker.

"My time in Augusta has been focused ensuring students in Maine have the strongest and best learning environment," he said. "Whether it's through teacher training, teacher accountability, bringing innovation into the classroom, or supporting proper funding of our public schools, my efforts are based on the idea that every student deserves a good, quality education."

Baxter Academy officials said they accepted the offer to host the luncheon because the Maine Heritage Policy Center supports school choice and charter schools. The Friedman lunch is held at various locations nationwide in honor of the late Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, who was an advocate of school choice.

Other speakers at the lunch were Amanda Clark, the Maine Heritage Policy Center's education analyst, and Carol Weston, director of the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity.

The Maine Heritage Policy Center, a nonprofit, does not disclose its donors.

Baxter Academy officials have said the school is not seeking financial support from the group but they want to solicit the group's members as individuals. Internal emails show that board members discussed the Friedman lunch as a way to reach out to the group and its members.

"The purpose of (the lunch) will be to cultivate a relationship with MHPC as an entity, as well as with its members as individuals," Crean Davis, the board's vice chairwoman, wrote in an email on June 21.

The school is scheduled to open with 130 students, It is renovating its leased space and meeting immediate fundraising goals.

The school has set a goal of raising $1 million by June 30.

At the lunch, Crean Davis discussed the need for Maine students to study science, technology, math and engineering to compete globally, and noted that Maine students' scores in math lag some New England states.

"Charter schools might be part of that solution," she said.

She did not make a direct appeal for any financial support from the attendees.

At Baxter, she said, "we need resources to do it. We need the support of all of Maine."

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

ngallagher@pressherald.com

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Additional Photos

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Allison Crean Davis, vice chairwoman of the Baxter Academy board, speaks during the Maine Heritage Policy Center luncheon in Portland on Wednesday, July 31, 2013.

John Patriquin / Staff Photographer

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Kelli Pryor, chairwoman of Baxter Academy board, at Wednesday's Maine Heritage Policy Center luncheon at the Portland charter school.

 


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