February 4, 2014
Senator Millett, Representative MacDonald, esteemed colleagues on the Education Committee, I am Brian Hubbell, representing House District 35, Bar Harbor, Southwest Harbor, Cranberry Isles, and Mount Desert and I am here before you as the lead co-sponsor and earnest supporter of LD 1736, A Resolve, To Create a State-run Virtual Academy Providing Maine Students with Access to Online Learning through Their Existing School Districts.
Like you, for many years I have been alternately excited and concerned about the prospects of virtual learning in Maine.
Back sometime in the early 90s, I registered for an adult ed class at Narraguagus High School that gave me access to a bewildering frontier of DOS-based distance learning and for many happy evenings I wandered essentially at random through a variety of remedial Latin exercises with no apparent beginning or end.
Over the past few years, as a school board member and a parent, I’ve observed intelligent and highly-motivated students who had tapped out local high school offerings flounder with frustratingly limited success to navigate advanced independent virtual classes on their own without the association or assistance of live teachers.
And yet, there is no doubt that the proven success of blended learning offers real promise and compelling incentive for Maine to implement a thoughtful and comprehensive model for collaborative virtual learning.
So, with gratitude to Senator Langley, I am deeply committed to the success of this bill because I believe that Maine students need us to provide them with an effective platform for online learning. And I believe that we can learn much from the proven successes of public virtual collaboratives in our neighboring New England States.
By broadening blended learning opportunities for all students — not only those who are struggling or limited by traditional classes but also those who are home-schooled or traveling — a state virtual academy would serve many more students than a virtual charter school. Most importantly, students would benefit from having a Maine teacher available to them at both ends of the wire.
We are offered unique opportunity here to build on the successes both of Vermont’s Virtual Learning Collaborative and New Hampshire’s Virtual Learning Academy. New Hampshire has expressed interest in exploring a partnership with Maine which offers promising opportunity for quick implementation.
Beyond that, this bill offers Maine the chance to thoughtfully develop a truly collaborative model that suits a wide range of students and a promising way for Maine school to efficiently share good practices in effective distance learning.
Please join me in support of this bill.
- New Hampshire Virtual Learning Academy
- Vermont Virtual Learning Cooperative
- The Impacts of Public Charter Schools on Students and Traditional Public Schools: What Does the Empirical Evidence Tell Us?
- 2011 CREDO study, ‘Charter School Performance in Pennsylvania’
- Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning, USDoE