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For Immediate Release

Date: 04/12/13

GOP Education Committee Members Speak Out for Education Reform

Committee sees onslaught of attacks on education reform from Dems, special interests

AUGUSTA - House Republicans on the Legislature's Education and Cultural Affairs Committee today expressed their support for Maine's fledgling charter school program. Several bills related to the schools received public hearings before their committee—some to weaken, and some to strengthen the reform initiative.

Several of the bills attack online learning. Rep. Daughtry's LD 671, the innocuously-worded "An Act to Protect Charter Schools by Requiring Them To Be Operated as Nonprofit Organizations" virtually eliminates the opportunity for virtual charter schools to operate in Maine, as virtual schools are generally operated by private corporations. Rep. MacDonald's LD 481 would impose heavy new regulations on virtual schools before any have even opened and the current law has had a chance to operate.

Senate President Justin Alfond and Senator Emily Cain have contradicting bills—Alfond's would put a moratorium on virtual schools while Cain's would pave the way for a state-operated virtual school. Another of Pres. Alfond's bills, LD 1128, would put proposed charter schools at the mercy of informal votes held at kangaroo-court style public hearings that can easily be flooded by the Democrats' army of activist organizations, including Alfond's own League of Young Voters.

"The attacks on education reform that have come from the Democrats and the education establishment really are unrelenting," said Rep. Peter Johnson (R-Greenville), House Republican Lead on the Education Committee. "All of these bills are little bites that combine to make the promise of charter schools dimmer for thousands of Maine students at a time when nobody should have a monopoly on our children's education.

"I'm still waiting for Democrats to say which education reforms they would support," added Johnson. "They've shot down every idea we've given them."

Sen. Garrett Mason (R-Androscoggin) presented a bill, LD 729, which would grant charter schools the same waiver application process that traditional schools now have, along with an amendment that would actually make it harder for charters to get certain waivers than it is for traditional schools.

The measure received heavy backlash from the Maine Education Association, the Maine School Management Association, and the liberal American Civil Liberties Union of Maine.

"I can understand there being some questions or concerns about a new education initiative such as charter schools, but I've been really taken aback by the quantity of the anti-charter school bills," said Rep. Matthew Pouliot (R-Augusta). "Some of the bills raise some good points but, overall, I think we should be working to make charter schools more accessible to Maine parents and their children, not less."

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Contact:
David Sorensen, Communications Director
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 205-7793