Education Action Forum of Maine has evolved from the Maine Association for Charter Schools, an organization which has worked for the last 20 years to successfully pass and implement Maine’s nationally acclaimed law enabling the creation of public charter schools, which now provide more public school options that meet the diverse needs of Maine children.
Responding to the current, significant changes to Maine’s education landscape, affecting both charter and district public schools, at its June 17 meeting MACS’ Board of Directors voted to change our name and expand our mission to adapt to the realities facing education in Maine.
Maine’s Changed Education Environment
In 2019, Maine’s Legislature imposed a permanent cap of ten on the number of charter schools in Maine. This action was the result of political party opposition and conflicting personal and professional interests that oppose new public schools other than those provided under the established district-governed school model.
Political opposition prevents continued growth of the public charter school model to meet the growing demand for new educational options, despite the diligent authorization and oversight of Maine’s Charter School Commission. Today, ten innovative new schools serve more than 2,500 Maine children from 289 towns statewide with over 500 children on waiting lists.
In March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic presented unprecedented challenges to all public schools, leaving educators and policymakers scrambling to deal with the crisis. As Maine’s Commissioner of Education Pender Makin said in her March 23 message to teachers and families, “the structures we have will need to change radically”. She stated, “We will need to redesign and implement a world class education system in Maine, but it will take time.”
The time is ripe for a new organization, Education Action Forum of Maine, to provide leadership assisting our education system move forward safely while developing restructuring strategies unimaginable before the pandemic struck. These efforts will require intentional input from leaders from the K-12 system, post-secondary institutions, as well as business and non-profit leaders. Together, our conversations will forge new, reimagined possibilities for student-centered, teacher-empowered, and family-friendly public education programs.
Our New Name & Mission
We believe “Education Action Forum of Maine” is an appropriate new name that defines the new work of our organization, reflecting our core values, expanded mission, and the multiple paths we envision as we continue to strive for excellence in teaching, learning, administration, and governance within the public education system of Maine.
Our New Mission: To provide a forum for creative collaboration among all stakeholders to increase high-quality public education options that respond to the diverse needs of children, families, and communities in Maine.
We refined our mission after discussions with many people in Maine and with leaders of analogous institutions across the country including, “The Mind Trust” in Indiana, “Education Evolving” in Minnesota and “Bluum” in Idaho, inspiring models for our new entity.
Education Action Forum of Maine will:
- Actively seek partnerships with Maine-based education institutions to support our mission.
- Amplify the voice of families, students, and teachers, affording them new opportunities to play a strong role in restructuring our education system.
- Advocate for legislation that enables, promotes, and supports innovation and excellence among diverse educational opportunities.
- Continue MACS’ legacy supporting public charter schools in Maine. Charters will remain one of Maine’s key alternative strategies for improving teaching and learning within our public school system.