So, I'm on holiday in Florida, headed to the beach any minute, and my @AugustaInsider Twitter feed points out some editorials and recent columns about how our esteemed governor's refusal to allow charter schools in the state has kept us from receiving federal Race to the Top dollars and will keep other monies and advantages from Maine schools. This makes no sense to me, since we have the oldest charter schools in the country. We call them New England Academies.
When the legislaure began the charter school dust-up several months ago, I e-mailed some reporter friends and asked them to write a story and help me, and I'm sure other, to understand why Maine's handful of "private schools in the public interest" don't count as charter schools. Though I never saw a story, I figured there had to be an answer.
Now that I understand the consequences of the lack of charter school designation, I want that answer.
Seems to me that the "New England Academy" model represents precisely what charter schools are when they are run as they are supposed to be run. They typically have no unions and the best academic results in their areas. (Please note, these two facts are not necessarily consequent.)
Though I cannot find the reference in the Byzantine Maine.gov Department of Education website, I know that Maine law supports the private school systems that existed before the public system was instituted and allows them to maintain private boards, more autonomy in acceptance and expulsion policies, and administrative freedom unlike any public school in the country. Also, in towns without schools students may attend nearby schools, regardless of public, private or quasi-private status at the town's expense as long as the school is not religiously affiliated.
More on this later. If anyone has a clue before I get home to do more research, please help me out.
1 day ago