Maine has suffered through its own brands of education disruption. Most notably, they became the target for a bunch folks who wanted to use Maine as a proof of concept state for proficiency based learning grafted onto standards based grading. At best they showed that a poorly implemented and underfunded disruption of this sort is disastrous; at worst, they showed that re-organizing education around the needs of data miners is a terrible idea. However you slice it, Maine's little experiment failed hard.
But what education in Maine hasn't had to deal with much is the rise of charter schools. The charter industry hasn't infected Maine as badly as, say, Ohio or Indiana. There are ten charters, with fewer than a total of 3,000 students enrolled. There are plenty of possible explanations, not the least of which is that once you get away from Theme Park Maine on the coast, Maine is pretty rural (I have an old friend who used to describe his central Maine high school as fifteen miles and an hour and a half away from the nearest rival). But that limited role for charteristas may be about to change.
Like every state where charters are legal, Maine has a group that promotes, advocates, lobbies and generally cheerleads for the charter industry-- the Maine Association for Charter Schools, whose stated purpose is to promote "high-quality options for all children within Maine's public education system." But last year the legislature indefinitely extended a charter school cap. 10 is all the charters they may ever have.
So what's a chartery education disruption group to do?
How about renaming yourself? And rebranding yourself with a whole new mission by declaring yourself the leaders of the state's education community?
So let's meet a fun new group launched just a few months ago. It's the Education Action Forum of Maine and it is, well-- from their About Us page:The Education Action Forum of Maine operated for twenty years as the Maine Association for Charter Schools. On June 17, 2020, the MACS board voted to change the name and expand its mission to adapt to the realities influencing the education landscape in Maine.
Our inaugural speaker is Jason Snowdon of Knowledgeworks. His research into potential models for education sets the foundation for our efforts to imagine a restructured and vibrant network of public schools in Maine.