For those following the virtual charter schools issue here in Maine, it's been a dramatic week.
On Tuesday, the state's charter commission rejected both virtual charter school applications, a move expected to displease Gov. Paul LePage. The last time they failed to accept either of the two proposals -- one to be managed by K12 Inc., the other by Connections Learning -- the governor suggested they reconsider or resign. Indeed, LePage did not disappoint. On Wednesday he held two fiery press conferences where he proclaimed -- falsely -- that Maine had the worst public schools in the nation, that the charter commission had made their decision because of "intimidation" from public school interests, and that the commissioners should, indeed, resign.
For some background, you may want to read my investigation into the role K12 Inc and Connections Learning have played in developing digital policy here in Maine, and the associated sidebar on those company's track record in other states. It's worth noting that the board of Maine Connections Academy -- associated with Connections Learning -- consists of close LePage allies including Republican Party vice-chair Ruth Summers (wife of 2012 US Senate nominee Charlie Summers), state Rep. Amy Volk (R-Scarborough), and former state senator Carol Weston, who heads the state chapter of the Koch Brothers' Americans for Prosperity.
I am an award-winning journalist and author of American Nations, American Character, Ocean's End, The Lobster Coast, and The Republic of Pirates. I'm a staffer at the Portland Press Herald, where I won a 2012 George Polk Award for my investigative reporting and was named a 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist.