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Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012: Angus King, Charlie Summers and school choice

King from away

I watched an ad for Angus King for Senate that used the same tactics DCP Midstream used so successfully here in Searsport. They are the ones trying to put one of the biggest propane tanks in the world — 22.7 million gallons — in one of the smallest villages.

They came to Searsport and convinced many that only folks “from away” opposed their tank. Of course that was a lie, but it divided our town. Many of us opposing their tank are most certainly not “from away.” And now King is telling us the same thing. It’s people “from away” that want him to lose. That’s just another lie, but he is very convincing. And isn’t he from Virginia anyway?

Remember when he was governor? He filled his cabinet and regulatory agencies with paper company executives on leave from their real jobs. They had their way with our state, and we are still trying to recover. He brags about saving special places for our kids, yet he opposes a north woods national park. He’s only for whatever enriches him personally. It makes me wonder why the Sierra Club endorses him — something’s up.

I’m going to vote for Democrat Cynthia Dill because she supports the park. It is one of our best opportunities for growth. Let’s not blow our future by voting for someone who calls himself an independent when he is really just an opportunist.

Harlan McLaughlin


School choice

I think it is clear that school choice is a harmful path for public schools in Maine to take. Maine’s public schools are open and accessible for every child regardless of economic status, race or religion.

To suggest that school choice would mean parents could choose to enroll their child in any school for any reason without compromising the sending or receiving school is ludicrous. People always have the option to send their students to private schools or pay the going rate to have them educated at a public school out of their residential area.

If we start slowly dismantling the way we provide public education for all Maine students by stripping enrollments from struggling schools, leaving in attendance only those pupils who are financially unable to choose another school, what is the outcome? Hopefully Mainers will be informed about how school choice would affect school budgets and local control. Do we want to be the state that ensures the best for only the entitled? Or do we want to continue the quest to offer the very best public education for all students? This is a noble calling, but it is doable.

The Maine Department of Education has convened a stakeholders group to develop a “public school choice model” to be reported out to the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee by January 14, 2013, and the committee is authorized to introduce a bill related to the report to the first regular session of the 126th Legislature.

Marilyn Temple Tardy


A candidate’s credibility

I have recently seen an ad for Republican Charlie Summers touting his experience and qualities. This comes after out-of-state, secretly funded ads tried to promote Democrat Cynthia Dill to negatively affect independent Angus King, and after out-of-state Chamber of Commerce ads invaded Maine. Enough out-of-state liars are trying to affect Maine elections, because the Republicans are worried about Sen. Olympia Snowe’s seat and are worried that King is truly independent.

But now there’s an ad from the Republican candidate’s campaign touting Summers’ good qualities. The ad neglects to mention, however, that he betrayed his political mentor and former employer Snowe by not endorsing her when she was running because he was catering to the extreme-right tea party.

The ad fails to mention that as secretary of state, he jumped in with Republican Party Chair Charlie Webster on a sham voter fraud investigation that is really part of the nationwide right-wing strategy of voter suppression designed to harm one of our most precious rights in a democracy.

The ad fails to mention that as secretary of state, he is in charge of the election process in Maine but refused to remove his conflict of interest by resigning as secretary of state while running in an election for U.S. Senate. These things make me question the credibility of Summers. I think Maine would do well with the independent voice and respect for Maine people that former Gov. King has shown us.

Randy Schwartz


Mitt for America

Some people say Mitt Romney is the same as President Barack Obama. They have to be looking at Massachusetts health care and nothing else. Mitt Romney is nothing like Obama in any other consideration. We have had Obama for four miserable years. The nation accepted the promise of his fine words and it turned out badly. We now know what four more years of Obama will do to America. Let’s vote for Romney and give America a chance at survival.

Cindi Rosso


Standardized testing

I have just read the Sept. 20 BDN article “ School official on leave.”

I’m a retired classroom teacher of nearly 47 years. Your article, giving light to a local school’s standardized testing improprieties, raises serious questions. The measurement of student achievement and progress is a key factor in school improvement and curriculum development. It aids in the process of identifying, developing and refining best practices for all students ranging from the gifted and talented to those with special needs. Important decisions are made based on valid feedback on student progress.

Taxpayers expect these decisions are based upon sound and valid input. We entrust our educators — public officials, too — to discharge their duties and responsibilities in a manner that does not give the perception of impropriety or misconduct. Examples of excellence in all professions and public service should be acknowledged. So, too, should activity that falls below the public’s expectation of right, integrity and accountability.

I trust most would agree that a prompt, thorough and objective investigation will occur and the results should be made public. All parties, including the Maine Department of Education, should be interviewed. A good beginning question might be, “What did you know, and when did you know it?”

Standardized testing procedures should be followed to avoid the suggestion its results have been rigged. Adding these apparent flawed results to other student results who followed clearly established and stated procedures would further undermine the educational decision process that will most certainly follow.

Ted Berkey


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