Wednesday, April 11, 2012: Sandwich wars, east-west highway and teacher evaluation

Posted April 10, 2012, at 3:29 p.m.

Delights in deli

I find the sandwich wars rather amusing. Obviously anyone who thinks that any of these sandwiches are good has never had a real deli sandwich.

Bruce Gehrke

Hermon

East-west boondoggle

Apparently the east-west highway has again emerged from the crypt — this time as a private toll expressway stretching from one Canadian border to the other that promises riches for Maine’s north country.

What’s not to like? Well, aside from environmental concerns and the costly and cumbersome business of obtaining right-of-way, there is the small matter that we are no longer in the big tail fin era of cheap oil when similar “interstates” were built. Gas, diesel and asphalt are now at record highs with no possibility of any decrease.

Not only will this highway be fantastically expensive to build, it will further hitch our economic future to the petroleum wagon with all of its baggage of politics, speculation, war and pollution. Truck transportation is one of the least fuel-efficient modes of transport of goods. Witness how many truckers parked their vehicles the last time there was a large fuel spike.

If the state of Maine is really interested in developing an east-west highway for the future, it should use the one it already has — the old Canadian Pacific line from Lake Magantic to Vanceboro. The right of way already exists and could be easily enhanced and upgraded. The state has already invested in intermodal transportation. Pound for pound, rail is a much cheaper alternative to truck transportation. In the future, the line could be further upgraded to total electric propulsion.

Maine should not be using 1950 solutions to solve 21st century challenges.

Greg Rossel

Troy

Poliquin’s self-promotion

While I recognize the duty of the state treasurer to publish lists of unclaimed property, I question the ethics of Bruce Poliquin including his name and photograph with the list at a time when he is seeking higher office. The effect of this approach is to promote himself at taxpayer expense.

I would hope the BDN would be more careful when reviewing future supplements from those seeking higher office.

Thomas E. Martin

Ellsworth

It doesn’t work

Education Commissioner Steve Bowen tells half the truth and only half the story.

Concerning the teacher evaluation bill just passed, Bowen said, “The research is clear that the effectiveness of teachers and education leaders is the most important school-based factor influencing student achievement and success.” Unfortunately for Maine students, what he forgot to add is that there is absolutely zero data that has not been disproven which shows any positive student achievement from teacher evaluations based on standardized test scores.

Sadly, the majority of the Legislature swallowed this fallacy. Tying teachers’ effectiveness to student test results does not improve student outcomes. If people are actually interested in taking the time to investigate this fallacy and the actual negative impact on students, I suggest they start with a very complete but long pair of articles written by the renowned educator Diane Ravich, called “Schools We Can Envy.”

There are many beneficial ways to evaluate teachers and administrators that could improve student learning, but tying the evaluation to test scores is not one of them. I sincerely hope the statewide committee responsible for creating guidelines on teacher evaluations takes the data and research into account.

John Soifer

South China

Recipe for decline

The “job creators,” the fanciful term used by Republicans to describe big corporations and the richest 1 percent, have a lot to be thankful for in that they are the beneficiaries of the right-wing theory of “trickle-down economics.” This refers to the idea, contrary to all evidence, that government tax breaks to that group will benefit poorer members of society by improving the entire economy. Application of this theory has not only led to disastrous results under recent Republican administrations, but was also their prescription for the Great Depression.

In 1932, in his nomination acceptance speech, FDR pointed out that with such policies “a favored few are helped hoping that their prosperity will leak through, sift down, to the laborer, the farmer and the small businessman.” Roosevelt, in contrast, promised to bring a “New Deal” to the American people, and sought instead to build prosperity from the bottom up by strong policies of job-creating public works, upgrading the country’s infrastructure, supporting a social safety net and controlling the excesses of the financial industry. Creating jobs took precedence over hand-wringing about increasing the deficit.

Yet today Republicans cling adamantly to their “job creator” fantasy. Combine that with their goals of demolishing Medicare and Medicaid and eliminating a host of vital government agencies such as the EPA, Department of Education, FDA and SEC, and you have a recipe for America’s decline.

The Republican agenda, epitomized in the Ryan budget plan, does credit to a collection of imbeciles.

Gene Clifford

Southwest Harbor

Media failing us

The mainstream media is failing us. It has a responsibility to tell us what is happening but also to educate on why and what it means.

Take climate change: we see articles saying “it’s been warm” or “so many tornadoes.” It hit 83 degrees in Bangor on March 21, three weeks sooner than we had ever hit 80. Chicago averages one 80 degrees-plus day per April but had eight of nine of 80 degree-plus days by March 22. March was the 325th consecutive month above average globally since February 1985.

But we don’t see scientific explanations on the causes nor the longer-term effects that will impact humanity.

The University of Maine is a center of climate research led by Paul Andrew Mayewski, director and professor of the Climate Change Institute. The BDN and other media outlets should be using this resource and others to inform. A thorough understanding of this issue should be required of every science reporter.

Man is adding carbon to the atmosphere like never before. This is leading to catastrophic climate change. The media needs to inform us so we can prepare before it is too late. Planet Earth is an interdependent web on which we all depend.

On this topic and many others the media isn’t fulfilling its mission to educate. Demand better from them.

John Albertini

Charleston

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/04/10/opinion/wednesday-april-11-2012-sandwich-wars-east-west-highway-and-teacher-evaluation/ printed on July 24, 2014