The approval of charter schools in Maine has opened up a new chapter in the education of our students.

Unfortunately, political pressure and partisanship has undone the good decision-making of the Department of Education. The establishing of the Cornville Charter School is a poor decision for the region, both economically and educationally.

The Department of Education’s committee overseeing the approval process for schools rejected the Cornville charter on sound fiscal and educational grounds. The committee said the school failed to differentiate itself from the public school model, did not properly address different learning styles, and had insufficient funds to operate the school.

After political pressure was placed upon the committee, however, it suddenly reversed its decision. There has not been an influx of cash to shore up the budget. There has not been a change to the curriculum to differentiate it from the public school model and satisfy the requirements of the charter bill. Good fiscal policy and the intent of the charter school bill have been ignored.

Now parents in the area must choose either to send their children to the Cornville Charter School or have them remain in the public system.

This difficult decision should not be taken lightly, though it is important to answer the question: How can a school with less experienced, lower paid staff, and a far smaller budget, provide better educational outcomes using what is essentially the same curriculum and methods as the public system?

In national studies, not only have charter schools been shown to be equal to or less effective than public schools, K-8 charter schools, in particular, have performed well below the national average. Parents should use caution when deciding where their children should attend school in the coming years.

Phil Estabrook


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