Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012: Test abuse, new Congress and increased crime

Posted Oct. 01, 2012, at 2:15 p.m.

Core values betrayed

I was chagrined to see the Sept. 18 BDN article about standardized testing irregularities at Orono Middle School. I equally deplore the system that drives educators to betray their core values.

As we need gun control to deter violent crimes, we need test control to discourage educational abuses. The Maine Department of Education and the U.S. government need to re-examine the priority given to standardized tests. Listen to the Maine Education Association, the teachers in Chicago and their dedicated colleagues across the nation who insist that these tests are not serving our children.

Laura Cowan May

Orono

Do the math

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made a revealing statement when, in a “secret” fundraising meeting with GOP high-rollers, he held that 47 percent of the electorate “will vote for the president no matter what” because he concluded that the 47 percent who don’t pay income tax are dependent on government support, and he couldn’t get their vote. Romney, do the math. The president only has to attract another 3 percent of the voters, plus one, to win the popular vote and likely carry the electoral college.

Are you conceding?

You went on to say you “want to get the people in the middle.” That would hardly offset the 47 percent of the voters. Do the math.

Perhaps your math skills have been influenced by the peculiar, misleading and inaccurate math of your running mate. Have you forgotten your skills with numbers perfected at Bain, or were they limited to adding up profits?

I will give you the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps you based your calculations on the effectiveness of widespread efforts by Republican lawmakers, coast to coast, to suppress voter turnout. An effort targeting students, minorities, the elderly and the poor, not your usual GOP supporters. On second thought, do the math.

You stated in defense that perhaps you could have been more articulate. Confusing, because there is no misunderstanding what you said, spoken with rare clarity and precision.

Take responsibility for your positions and stop chastising others less affluent than you for not being personally responsible citizens. Time to expose the authentic, real Romney, or have you already?

Herbert J Hoffman, Ph. D

Ogunquit

Attacks from inside Congress

We don’t need to be attacked from the outside when we have Republicans that vote against anything that will improve the economy. GOP senators wasted time and taxpayer dollars by voting no on a measure that would have created jobs for up to 20,000 returning veterans.

Why block a bipartisan veterans jobs bill? Is it because unemployed veterans are part of Mitt Romney’s scorned 47 percent? Unemployed, they pay no taxes. They may feel they are “entitled” to the health care benefits they’ve been guaranteed. Guess that makes them Romney’s “victims,” dependent on the government.

Or is it because Senate Republicans are committed to blocking any action that will produce jobs in their effort to ensure that the economy fails under President Barack Obama? Since Obama came into office, GOP Leader Mitch McConnell requires 60 votes for every measure to meet his stated goal of making Obama a one-term president.

The procedural vote was 58 to 40. Only five GOP senators voted yes, including Maine’s senators.

We don’t need a new president. We need a new Congress.

Deborah Ferrell

Newport

A fair and neutral process

I recently attended a public hearing in Bangor conducted by the Commission to Study the Conduct of Elections in Maine. Formed by the 125th Legislature, the commission is to conduct a study of voter participation, the system governing voter registration and the conduct of elections in our state. It has been holding public hearings to get input from Maine citizens.

I’m very glad I went. It’s inspiring to see Mainers stand up in defense of the democratic process. Overall, it was a stirring defense of the right to vote unfettered by restrictive laws.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to speak. I wasn’t alone. More concerning was the seemingly arbitrary nature of the process. Some people who didn’t get to speak on the record were asked to give their names and indicate whether they agreed or disagreed with another speaker, but others were not. Some people who arrived late got to speak, while I and others who arrived earlier did not. There was not enough time to allow everyone to be heard. Many people left frustrated and disappointed.

More than 50 people attended, and many spoke with thoughtful testimony and good humor. I thank the commissioners for their interest in and commitment to gathering public comment on this important issue. It seems clear that they are getting more than they planned for or expected. There are four hearings left in their schedule. I hope that the commission can develop a fair and neutral process for conducting those that remain.

Barbara A. McDade

President, League of Women Voters of Maine

Bangor

Dealing with crime

As you know, crime seems to be on the rise in our growing community of Bangor. It is a serious issue, and I have heard the stories about residents finding hypodermic needles in their backyard, people being harassed by folks that won’t take no for an answer and the family that desperately wants to allow their children to play in a nearby park without having to worry.

Our city is trying to combat this problem, and we are exploring every reasonable option at our disposal. Recently, I was contacted about a bill making its way through the U.S. Senate that gave me some hope for our future. Its title was the Veterans Jobs Corps Act of 2012, and it would have helped provide up to 20,000 of our veterans with employment in important fields, such as our local police and fire departments.

This commonsense bill was good for Bangor. It received the support of 58 senators but was blocked due to blatant partisanship. An alarming 10.9 percent of our veterans are unemployed, compared to 8.1 percent of the general population. I believe that having a job is about a lot more than a paycheck, it is about a person’s dignity, respect and self-worth. I have no doubt that our community could have really benefited from this vote, and I feel that our federal government has missed out on a tremendous opportunity. But where Washington fails, our city must continue to move forward with solutions.

The stakes are just too high.

Charles Longo Jr.

Bangor City Councilor

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