School choice in action

Head shot of Commissioner Stephen BowenSchool choice has always been an option for some Maine students, but we’re getting closer and closer to offering choice to all our kids—enabling them to take charge of their own learning.

The school choice work group met for the second time Monday to continue its work on a publicly funded school choice model.

When the Governor proposed school choice to the Legislature last year, we knew we had a lot of kinks to work out. The model we are currently reviewing would allow districts to elect to participate in an open-enrollment program—meaning students from any district could apply to an open-enrollment school located anywhere in the state. The group is still discussing details related to transportation and funding, but the group intends to propose a thorough model to policymakers come January.

I witnessed first-hand the positive impact school that choice has on students Monday morning when we opened Maine’s first ever charter schools: Cornville Regional Charter School and the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences at Good Will-Hinckley.

The Academy is ideal for students who have trouble learning in a one-size-fits-all school environment—but it’s meant for students with a special interest in the natural sciences, too. In fact, Olivia Broadrick, a senior who had transferred to the Academy from York High School, said she’d enjoyed York and had excelled there. But when she heard that Good Will-Hinckley’s new charter school offered a hands-on science track, it sounded like the curriculum she needed to prepare for her dream job in farming.

Maine’s inception of public charter schools granted Olivia that choice—we want all students to be able to choose a school that works for them through a public school choice program.

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