Give flexibility to public schools

The Legislature will be discussing the issue of allowing charter schools in Maine. Many see this as a panacea to the problems in education.

Only 20 percent do a better job than public schools. About one-third do worse than public schools, and the remainder do about the same.

Instead of creating a new infrastructure of schools, I suggest trying the concept in some existing schools. Allow one school in Lewiston and one in Auburn to operate under the proposed rules. These schools could have longer days and shorter vacation time. Teachers who are interested in working under more flexible teaching conditions could apply for positions at these schools. People who are proficient in a particular field could be hired, even though they do not have teaching certificates.

There are many unanswered questions about charter schools. Among them, will the charter school budget pay for special education services, such as speech therapy, or is the local district supposed to supply it? Who is responsible for transporting students living outside the school district? If a charter school is located in Lewiston and a student lives in Minot, does the charter school budget pay for the transportation?

One claim is made that parents will be more involved in charter schools. Currently, too many parents have little or no involvement in their children’s school. Why will they be more involved in a charter school?

Instead of starting charter schools, why not give the flexibility to public schools?

Stan Tetenman, Poland

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Comments

Shane Morin's picture

Great letter

Great letter taking a different stance than the one I had from a little over a week ago.

We've learned a lot of positive things about education since charter schools began in this country. The public school system is generally pretty timid in taking any drastic steps at changing their system to improve for fear of total failure.

I find it interesting that the person writing the letter is from Poland, which from what I've gathered, is a district that is generally more (commendably) adventurous in its operations than the average system.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

A perfect example

A short time ago this newpaper featured an article about the new programs at Longley School and how they have improved their test scores. This is a perfect example of what a public school can accomplish given the flexibility and resources to succeed. There are many reasons why students graduate from school without a good education and the teacher is not always the problem. In the good old days schools taught those who wanted to learn and those who could learn. The rest dropped out early and went on to do manual labor. Today everybody needs an education. There are no jobs for the uneducated and educating students with disabilities and those with low motivation or aspirations is way more challenging and requires more than just a teacher and a piece of chalk. You add to that the explosion of knowledge and technology and there needs to be many changes in how we educate kids. Improving the system we have for all students will be more cost effective than throwing a lot of money at schools that educate a small number of students and have no accountability in the long run.

Terry Donald's picture

the biggest problem with

the biggest problem with charter schools is that they are businesses,. They are run by companies that do what they do for a profit. And just like every business out there today, they will do what they have to do to maximize their profits. That's means keeping costs as low as possible by keeping the staff small, hiring the lower qualified/lower paid employees etc. And most of all, as a business they can decide to close their doors whenever they want to. How's that for a way to leave our kids stranded?
Some things should retain total public oversight, our education system is one of those.

Amy Byron's picture

I disagree...

Aren't our public school systems doing what they can to "maximize profits"? (Consolidation -- even when it is not in the best interest of the children.) I'm not seeing much proof that our public schools are hiring well-qualified employees -- although many are being paid well. Our public schools are turning out "graduates" who can't write a complete sentence or do simple math calculations...

I say our public schools need some competition...

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