Commissioner’s Update – May 12, 2011

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It’s my hope that much of the mystery and fear about charter schools can be set aside during today’s public hearing on LD 1553, An Act To Create a Public Charter School Program in Maine. Charter schools are not private schools; they are not elitist or exclusive; they are not religious. In fact, charter schools today serve a more diverse population nationally than conventional public schools.

The vast majority of Maine students will continue to attend the public schools we have today. But I believe it’s time for Maine to provide parents and students the options that are available in almost every other state: school choice that includes charter schools. They are not a silver bullet that will solve all our education problems. But they are a promising reform that will give educators a model of schooling to work with that may allow them to be more innovative, and that may improve student outcomes for the students that attend them.

You can listen online to the hearing, which will begin shortly after 1 p.m. (The committee will first hold a hearing on LD 1540, An Act to Encourage Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education, which I am also supporting.)

— Stephen Bowen

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