WASHINGTON, D.C.-Charter school advocates across the country are cheering a failed attempt by the Maine legislature to override vetoes on a package of bills aimed at weakening one of the nations best charter school laws. The package of four bills included legislation that would make charter schools an easy target for future funding cuts and that would require charter schools to comply with more red tape. These bills were aimed at stopping Maines fledgling charter school community and all were vetoed by Governor Paul LePage.
The Legislature attempted to override his vetoes, but was ultimately unsuccessful. Maine passed a law allowing charter schools to be created in that state in 2011. There were two charter schools operating in Maine last school year, with three more set to open this school year. At least three of the five charter schools in Maine are full for the coming school year and students wishing to attend must put their names on a waiting list. Nationally there are almost 1 million names on charter school waiting lists. "Hundreds of students want to take advantage of the opportunity that these new charter schools offer and we are pleased they will still have that chance this school year", said Todd Ziebarth, senior vice president of state advocacy and support at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS). It would have been a tragedy to let politics stop children from going to schools that meet their needs and prepare them for their futures.
NAPCS worked with local organizations in Maine to defend the law and the opportunity for new schools to open in the future. NAPCS ranks Maines charter school law the second-best in the country, out of laws in 42 states and the District of Columbia. Maines law ranks highly because of its relatively strong alignment with the 20 essential components of the NAPCS model law, including providing flexibility to innovate and ensuring accountability for results. Two other bills that did not reach the Governors desk will likely be reconsidered next year. NAPCS will continue to work with its partners to stop laws that limit charter school growth and funding. "We hope Maine's lawmakers decide not to take these issues up again next year and instead focus on policies that will give schoolchildren more options, not take options away," said Ziebarth.
About the National Alliance
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter sector. For more information, please visit our website at www.publiccharters.org.