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Garrett Mason

Critique of Maine's Proposed Charter School Bill

LD 1553: An Act to Create A Public Charter School Program in Maine, sponsored by Senator Garrett Mason

Bill Summary:

This bill establishes a process to authorize the establishment of charter schools in the State.

Synopsis and concerns:

Bill seeks to provide a mechanism for new private non-profit and for-profit entities to gain access to public funding in order to provide more narrowly directed educational programs to undefined subsets of students.

The law would obligate local property taxpayers to fund these independent charter school operations at the same per-pupil rate by which they fund their local public school. This obligation apparently would extend to “virtual” charter operations located elsewhere, if local students chose to attend.

Such charter operations may be authorized (and the terms of their contracts set for a period of 5-15 years) independent of local approval or oversight through a new, non-elected “State Charter School Commission.” This Commission would be appointed by the State Board of Education, themselves appointees of the Governor. Qualifications, duties, and accountability for members of this Commission are unspecified. Read more »