I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Latest "Chiefs For Change" Fail: Bowen in ME

For the next installment of our "Chiefs For Change Fail" series, let's head up north to Maine, where the very reformy Stephen Bowen has had to confront the reality that his push for virtual learning is hardly universally popular:
A group of digital-education experts is recommending that Maine create an online directory to help school districts and teachers find, choose and write reviews of digital learning resources. 
But the 17-member group's report and "digital learning strategy" is most notable for what it doesn't recommend: the sweeping policy changes advocated by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education, which seek to remove a range of state restrictions and limitations on how digital learning products are accessed, supervised and funded. 
The six-page report, overseen and composed by Maine Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen, suggests that Gov. Paul LePage's administration has slowed its effort to implement the controversial provisions of the Bush foundation's Digital Learning Now! initiative. [emphasis mine]
Jeb!'s FEE is, of course, nothing more than a front for the education-industrial complex, especially the virtual learning sector. FEE has basically written the legislation in Maine that would have opened the floodgates to virtual schools, which have a terrible track record nationwide.

Well, unlike many other states, at least the Democrats in Maine have figured out that giving buckets of money to the Tisch family so they can slap up "schools" with no requirements for instructional time or class size is probably a losing proposition with the voters:
The nation's two largest online-education companies -- K12 Inc. and Connections Learning -- have been seeking to manage virtual charter schools in Maine, but have been rebuffed by the Maine Charter School Commission.
Virtual charter schools -- which are funded by taxpayers -- have a poor record nationally. In other states, K12 Inc. has faced investigations and the revocation of charters for some of its schools.
In party-line votes Monday, the Legislature's Education Committee recommended passage of bills that would impose a moratorium on virtual charter schools and effectively ban for-profit charter schools.
Of course, you can count on Governor Paul LePage to veto any such moratorium; after all, that's why K12 Inc. pays him the big bucks.

Unfortunately for LePage and Bowen, all that campaign money, and all that lobbying by K12, can't change the sad fact that virtual schooling is a disaster that the voters do not want to support. And they can try to back away from it now, saying they're "slowing down" because "there's more work to be done," but that won't change the fact that cyber charters suck.

If LePage and Bowen want to keep their jobs, they're going to have to decide who they are loyal to: Jeb! Bush, the Tisches, and K12 Inc....

... or the taxpayers and students of Maine.

If Bowen puts the students' needs first, how can I make any money?!

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