Lincoln County News | Newcastle, ME
Tuesday, May 24, 2016 Serving Maine and Lincoln County for over a century. Volume 141 Issue 20

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home : letters : letters to the editor May 24, 2016

1/8/2014 3:54:00 PM
Investing In The Future
From the Legislature
By Rep. Mick Devin


In 2014, I'm looking forward to working on a number of measures that will help the people of Maine. In order for Maine to have a bright future, we need to make sure our students have a bright education.

Some of the issues I will work on this year focus on our schools and what is best for Maine's students.

Last session, the Legislature passed a bill that requires superintendents to document their reasons for decisions regarding non-resident student transfers. The intent of the bill was to increase transparency in student transfers between school districts so taxpayers in receiving towns would not be unfairly burdened.

However, the LePage administration has wrongly misinterpreted this new law to mean that superintendents must approve transfer requests unless they prove that the transfer is not in the best interest of the student.

A bill I'm sponsoring with my colleague, Rep. Brian Hubbell of Bar Harbor, will clarify this new law by setting a standard for what constitutes as a student's best interest. In order to overturn a denial of a student transfer, the Commissioner of Education has to prove the denial was arbitrary and unreasonable.

This bill will strengthen local control and prevent unfair increases in the tax burden for residents in the receiving district.

I'm working on this because this issue has affected residents in Lincoln County. Last year, I submitted a bill that would prevent student transfers from districts operating a public school into districts not operating a public school.

I'm also sponsoring a bill with Rep. Bruce MacDonald of Boothbay that strengthens the application process for virtual charter schools.

We have yet to prove that virtual charter schools are effective. According to a study by the University of Pennsylvania, about only half of students who signed up for an online course ever viewed a lecture and only four percent completed the course.

As online educators themselves admit, mass online education is not yet effective. We really need to proceed cautiously with virtual education.

This bill would require any virtual public charter school in Maine to receive approval from the Legislature and the Department of Education by meeting strict accreditation requirements. Teachers in virtual charter schools will be required to meet certain standards; and standards of integrity will be established to ensure student receive adequate support in their education.

Maine must make sure its students get the best education they can. In order for this to happen, they need to be provided the best learning environment possible.

This bill will ensure virtual public charter schools and their teachers are working toward that goal.

Guaranteeing quality education is one of the most important investments Maine can make for its future. I look forward to helping this happen.

(Rep. Mick Devin, D-Newcastle, is serving his first term in the Legislature, representing District 51, which includes Edgecomb, Newcastle, Damariscotta, Bristol, South Bristol, and Monhegan Plantation. He is a marine biologist who works at the Darling Marine Center in Walpole. Contact him for more information on this or any other issue at 975-3132 or by email at repmick.devin@legislature.maine.gov.)



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