- Associated Press - Sunday, March 16, 2014

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - With the approval of a virtual charter school, some Maine educators worry the state will be outsourcing education to a multinational corporation. But supporters argue that large private companies can create better and less expensive virtual schools because costs are spread out over a large number of users.

Starting next fall, the Maine Connections Academy will get its curriculum, online platform and some of its teachers from an American subsidiary of London-based Pearson LLC.

That worries Amanda Cooper, a Gorham Middle School teacher. She told the Portland Press Herald (http://bit.ly/1qIwnAC) that the company is so massive, it’s hard to see how it will be held accountable.

“Who is playing watchdog for this?” she said.

The school’s board of directors and Pearson officials are still negotiating a contract. State Rep. Amy Volk said seven Maine-based teachers will teach the core courses, while the company provides teachers for specialty courses, such as a Mandarin language class. Ted Ochs, chief operating officer for Pearson’s education division, Connections Education, said the company can afford to create online specialty classes that would be used by only a handful of students in Maine because hundreds more would participate nationally.

“We can leverage investment across many schools and students,” he said.

Gov. Paul LePage and Republican lawmakers have supported the new school, while public school teachers, administrators and Democrats have opposed it. Some Democrats back the idea of a virtual charter school managed by the Maine Department of Education rather than a volunteer board.

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Information from: Portland Press Herald, http://www.pressherald.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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