LePage blasts Alfond on "unconscionable" attack on public school

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AUGUSTA – Republican Gov. Paul R. LePage on Wednesday hit back at Senate President Justin Alfond (D-Portland) for his incendiary remarks regarding a Portland-based public charter school.

“I was disappointed to read your attack on the Baxter Academy of Technology and Science, the newly approved public charter school in Portland,” LePage wrote to Alfond in a July 31 letter obtained by The Maine Wire. “Baxter provides an excellent opportunity for students who are seeking a project-based, technology-rich, college-preparatory education focusing on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).”

LePage was responding to comments Alfond made last week regarding Baxter’s decision to join The Maine Heritage Policy Center for a luncheon celebrating the legacy of Nobel leaureate Milton Friedman, himself a champion of school choice.

In an article titled “Alfond attacks new Portland charter school for aligning with ‘extreme organization,’ Alfond told Bangor Daily News reporter Chris Cousins, “The Maine Heritage Policy Center is one of the most extreme organizations in the state of Maine. They do not look at collaborating or cooperating and working with public schools. It’s a very disappointing reality that Baxter is partnering with the Maine Heritage Policy Center.”

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LePage, who has made expanding school choice a hallmark of his administration, jabbed back at Alfond, pointing to the hypocrisy of his attack on the Portland public school.

“Attacking a public charter school that provides choice for Maine students reeks of hypocrisy,” wrote LePage. “You were fortunate enough to choose from any number of private high school, and you had the unlimited financial resources necessary to attend Noble and Greenough, an elitist private school in Massachusetts.”

Tuition at Noble and Greenough, a highly-selective boarding school located in Dedham, Mass., is $42,500 for 5-day boarding students, well above the median income for a family in Maine. Alfond, who grew up in Dexter, attended public school until his sophomore year, but then chose to leave his less wealthy peers for a better opportunity.

Wrote LePage, “The students who choose to attend Baxter cannot afford the world-class education you received at a very expensive boarding school. It is unconscionable that you would deny students the choice of which public school in Maine provides the best education that is tailored to fit their individual needs.”

LePage hit Alfond not only for being hypocritical and out of touch with average Mainers, but also for his sustained attacks on Maine’s public charter schools – attacks he believes come at the request of Maine’s powerful school unions.

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“[You] and the school union bosses have been fighting tirelessly to deny Maine students the choice of where they can get the best education,” wrote LePage. “You are putting the politically motivated demands of the union ahead of the best interests of the students,” he wrote. “This is wrong. We must put our students first.”

“Intentionally spreading false information about Baxter is dishonest, and denying Maine students the same opportunity you had to succeed shows utter disrespect for them,” he wrote. “I urge you to stop launching unprovoked attacks on school choice, and stop pandering to school union bosses.”

“Do the right thing. Put Maine students first.”

This is the second time Alfond made unwarranted accusations against public schools in Portland. In July, Alfond said that the Portland-area high schools deny uniformed military recruiters access to campus grounds – a claim Portland school officials later called “wrong.” 

The Maine Wire is a project of The Maine Heritage Policy Center.

S.E. Robinson
Maine Wire Reporter
serobinson@themainewire.com

8 COMMENTS

  1. It would seem that the public school system are failing to provide an adequate education for the youth of Maine. Why then should charter schools, who are offering a better educational choice, endeavor to minimize their success and lower their standards by collaborating with public schools? It would seem also that the trust funded and pampered Senate President Justin Alfond had chosen to pull up the ladder of success after he had climbed it himself. The privilege of wealth does not necessarily translate into altruistic intent. In short he chooses to fill his diaper rather than turn his attention to improving public education.

  2. It shouldn’t be difficult to get simple facts correct, but Robinson doesn’t seem to care. According to the US census, the median household income in Maine is $47,898. Of course, that is in 2011. Alfond attended the high school in Dexter through his sophomore year, not to it, and he left in 1992. My guess is the tuition at Noble and Greenough was a bit less 20 years ago.

    http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/23000.html

  3. Of course, Gov. LePage and Education Commissioner accused seven high schools of barring uniformed military recruiters on their campus, all of which have been shown to be false. Also, neither Bowen or anyone at his department bothered to contact the schools to verify the allegations with the superintendents or principals of the schools involved.

  4. In 1995, 4,858 students attended private, 9-12, schools both in and out of State and whose tuition was paid by ‘sending’ towns. There is a very good chance that Alfond’s tuition was partially offset by a tuition payment from Dexter under Maine’s original school voucher program which enabled generations of Mainers to afford to attend the best private schools in New England and as far west as California.

    Perhaps Dirigo Blue would ask him whether his tuition was paid by the Taxpapers of Dexter as part of the TOWN TUITIONING PROGRAM.

    Even more damning is the new Global Online Academy NOBLE has just launched:

    “Global Online Academy.

    An innovative collaborative launched this year, the Global Online Academy (GOA) is a non-profit that provides online courses that diversify and deepen the student learning experience. The mission of the GOA is to translate into online classrooms the intellectually rigorous programs and excellent teaching that are hallmarks of its member schools: Albuquerque Academy, Catlin Gabel, Cranbrook, The Dalton School, Germantown Friends, Head-Royce, King’s Academy (Jordan), Lakeside, Nobles, Punahou, and Sidwell Friends.”

    Were he to be enrolled there now, he could well be taking courses over this distance learning network, further damaging his opposition to Distance learning.

    Were he or his parents interested in his attending Noble, he could attend one of the many’admission’ fairs where private and charter schools compete for students.

    The next one is on September 10, 2013 at the Edward Brooke Charter School in.
    Roslindale, MA 02131, and later in the fall at another charter school, the Community Day Charter Public School in Lawrence, MA.

    He doth protest too much; way too much for a preppie!

  5. You guys should at least mention that you are an arm of the Maine Heritage Policy Center in your article. I mean, if you want to pretend that you are actually Press, don’t be so obvious, try to go through the motions, you know?

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