To the Editor:
The Maine State Senate has defeated a bill, LD 1438, which would have approved allowing charter schools to operate in Maine, as 40 other states already do.
Charter Schools are public and do not add to the tax burden of either the state or local governments. Not all parents approve of their local public school for their child and charter schools offer another educational choice.
Now that our state Senate has defeated LD 1438, there remains the thorny issue of explaining to the public what to do about the 20-50 percent dropout rate in Maine. Only three out of four complete high school in this very monolithic state.
There are presently 247 private schools in Maine, in which parents would rather pay to send their children to school then send them to a free public school. That’s known as having aspirations for your student child. And, 4897 children are home-schooled, as those parents believe they can give their children a better education than their own public school.
Do our Senators and Representatives know that 51 percent of our Maine 8th graders do not meet or only partially meet the Maine Educational Assessment (test) in mathematics?
Or that 56 percent of our Maine 5th graders do not meet or only partially meet the MEA in writing?
On the 11th grade MEA, one of our local Lincoln County high schools had 56 percent scoring in the ‘does not meet or only partially meets’ categories in reading, 70 percent in writing, 82 percent in mathematics and 92 percent in science! These percentages remember, are in the bottom categories and these stats can be found on the MDOE website.
It’s all about raising aspirations for our children.
If private schools don’t ‘cut it,’ clients don’t come and the school closes. If a charter school doesn’t ‘cut it,’ the state will close it down. Parents do understand the challenges faced by public schools. They do understand that public school teachers are expected to teach the whole spectrum of children that appear in their classrooms.
But even knowing that intellectually, many parents seek a better (in their perception) educational path for their ‘unique’ child. Charter schools, like private schools and home schooling, offer that choice, except that charters work on vouchers at no additional cost to parents.
In my district, Rep. Jon McKane has been supportive of Charter School Legislation and I thank him for that. Sen. David Trahan, however, is an opponent of Charter Schools, so his viewpoint would certainly be welcomed.
David Kolodin, Pemaquid