In a recent Maine Sunday Telegram I was disappointed to read that once again a journalist failed to do due diligence, associating me with ALEC, a conservative organization which I have never been a member of, never attended a function of and never met with a representative from. Apparently two education bills which I submitted at the request of an acquaintance are similar to model legislation ALEC has written, a fact I was unaware of since I have had no personal association with ALEC myself.

I joined the board of Maine Connections Academy only after Connections Academy met with Superintendent Entwistle and I was assured that he supported the concept of a virtual charter in Scarborough’s backyard. Not only was Dr. Entwistle supportive, but he wrote a letter to the Charter School Commission on behalf of MCA, understanding that not only would a virtual academy offer parents more choice in education, but that it would allow students enrolled in traditional schools a variety of advanced and elective courses not otherwise available. Additionally, MCA planned to locate their teaching center in Scarborough, bringing jobs and economic activity.

We can debate the data on virtual charters and for-profits versus non-profits, however there are times when a square peg just won’t fit into a round hole. In my own family, our son was out of school with no tutoring for a month until we agreed on an out of district placement, which was very expensive and ineffective. A virtual program may have been a Godsend. My friend’s daughter has serious respiratory issues and is entering third grade at Wentworth, a school we know has air quality issues. Her mom was excited to think she might have a choice.

Parents should have choices when it comes to education. Scarborough has embraced this concept for years. Virtual schools will never be for everyone, but they have their role in the technology-driven world our children inhabit.

Rep. Amy Volk


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