It was great to see our law enforcement leaders talking about how high-quality early education can help reduce future crime. But, as a business leader, I also see the positive impact early learning has on our future workforce and Maine’s economy.
Maine taxpayers spend $163 million a year to house, feed and provide 24-hour supervision for state criminals. By contrast, the state spends less than 11 percent of that — $17.6 million — on early care and education. Even adding in the federal contribution of $28.5 million for Head Start and $15.3 million for the Child Care and Development Block Grant doesn’t bridge that gap.
That is an unwise way to spend money. Why not invest in at-risk kids early instead of spending on them as criminals later?
Any investment in early learning for Maine children under 5 would yield a bonus of additional sales in other sectors of Maine’s economy according to America’s Edge, a business leaders organization. This could mean tremendous economic activity in local communities throughout Maine.
Not only would early education be a boon for our economy immediately, but data compiled by America’s Edge shows attending children both earn more and are more likely to hold skilled jobs as adults.
Both dollars and sense show one thing clearly — support for high-quality early education is smart for our kids and our economy.
Words cannot express the outrage I felt at the article in the Aug. 30 BDN, announcing Gov. Paul LePage’s choice of former Husson University president Bill Beardsley for an open seat on the State Board of Education.
Under ordinary circumstances, a college president would seem a likely choice for such a post, but this is the president who, according to the Maine State Police report investigating charges of sexual abuse of children by the late Robert Carlson, former chaplain for Husson University, was told by Husson students that Carlson may have sexually abused others. Beardsley failed to report that information to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Instead, the report stated, Beardsley spoke to Carlson and Carlson resigned. Beardsley denies any knowledge of such abuse. It’s a classic case of “he said, they said” and, as such, hard to prove, but the idea that our governor would appoint any educator to this board who could have ignored his ethical obligation to protect other children from sexual abuse is incomprehensible. With all of the qualified educators available, why Beardsley? What does such a choice say to Carlson’s victims? Is there no end to the capacity of those in power to turn a blind eye to their victimization?
LePage’s choice continues the harm perpetrated upon these children, since it shows that there is no accountability for people who fail to protect them.
The need to be heard
I live in an Unorganized Territory. There is no recognized “town government” in Lexington. We’re too small for that. But we’re still American citizens. We believe that our voices and our wills should not be disregarded simply because we live in rural Maine.
More than 80 percent of our residents signed petitions opposing Iberdrola Renewables’ proposed industrial wind facility planned for the mountain summits rising above our homes. But because of the 2008 passage of LD 2283 (former Gov. John Baldacci’s “Wind Energy Act”), rural citizens in the “expedited wind permitting zone” aren’t allowed to have any real influence in the future of our communities.
In any other situation, an 80 percent vote would be considered a landslide. The people’s will would have carried the day. Why is this not the case for us?
We have told Iberdrola and landowner Plum Creek about our collective decision. We’ve asked them to abandon their wind development plans. Instead of respecting our resolve, they’ve continued to move ahead with their plans; contacting locals, asking them for private “meetings” (while refusing to hold public meetings), asking them for easements to cross their properties and telling them that property owners have the right to use their land however they see fit.
If sight, sound, smell, pollution or environmental impacts stopped at property boundaries, this conversation might be different. But everyone in Lexington stands to bear the impacts if this industrial facility is built in our community.
If we lived in neighboring New Portland, this wouldn’t be an issue. But, we don’t. So, it is.
I am writing this letter to express how important I think it is that we elect Democrat Troy Haines to represent District 7 in the Maine House of Representatives. I have known Haines for years, in several different capacities.
He is currently working on developing a U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved meat-cutting facility in Aroostook County. This would be an amazing step forward for the County and for families like mine who currently have to truck their cattle to southern Maine to get USDA approval.
It’s hard to justify livestock farming in Aroostook County as a way of making a living when the costs currently associated are so high. We can’t let the amazing resources we have go to waste. Haines is a hardworking man who truly cares about Aroostook County and knows that we can thrive. He is a custom meat-cutter who built his continually growing, successful 10-year-old business on his own.
I’ve also known Haines as a close friend for the past 12 years. He is a person that I have always been able to count on, and I know many people who would say the same. In friendships, business and politics, he is a person who will view every matter objectively and do what is right, regardless of whether or not it will benefit him. He will represent the people of District 7 wholeheartedly and honestly. Knowing him as I do, I know that we would be lucky to have someone like him representing us.
Better disclosure a must
Bravo to the BDN for your editorial calling for better disclosure of political action committee money in our elections. There is so much at stake on Election Day that Maine can’t afford to keep voters in the dark. We need to know who pays for the advertising we see and hear.
With today’s electronic filing, the common-sense suggestions you recommend could be implemented with ease. Thank you for raising this important issue.