Monday, Oct. 29, 2012: Struggling schools, ‘Take Heart,’ a voting laugh

Posted Oct. 27, 2012, at 3:04 p.m.

Needed: Progressive leadership

In our current educational system, the love of learning is being flogged unmercifully. Former President Bill Clinton increased funding to Title 1 and drew attention to the struggles of public schools.

Unfortunately, former President George W. Bush authorized No Child Left Behind, a test-pushing monster. Bush’s dour brother, Jeb, while Florida governor, saw the possibilities and began constructing privatized solutions for our “failing” schools.

The truth is America’s schools are not failing, but the system has been demoralized by those who stand to gain from our loss. We must stop trying to reinvent the wheel, heed good research and look at what other successful countries are doing. Finland spends less per child, holds teachers in very high esteem and pays them well. Their students consistently score very well on the Program for International Student Assessment, yet they do not begin formal schooling until age 7. According to some studies, formal training in reading at an early age — 4 or 5 — can lead to problems later, especially for boys, according to research by Lilian Katz. Other studies reveal that children are born with a natural ability to learn math.

Perhaps if we capitalized on that, more of our students would have positive school experiences and become more eager learners.

For these changes to take place, we need the progressive leadership of the Democratic Party from the White House on down. It is time to rediscover an exemplary educational system, a major necessity for economic recovery.

Maggie Strickland

Harmony

Bring ‘Take Heart back

I am deeply saddened to hear the BDN is no longer running Wesley McNair’s “Take Heart” segment. I hate to think that the space once dedicated to Maine poets should be handed over to advertisers or other interests already represented within the paper’s pages.

Gone are the days in which mainstream media printed fiction, short stories and novellas alongside local news; but the Bangor Daily News’ commitment to showcase Maine poets within its pages is a nod to that old practice. That Maine continues to support a rich community of

writers makes our state special. That an institution such as the Bangor Daily News supported and celebrated that community spoke highly of the company and its commitment to the arts.

Robin McCarthy

Belfast

Re-elect Susan Longley

Well it’s that time of year, and elections are right around the corner. In this time of miscommunication and misdirection, a letter to the editor seems warranted. The position of judge of probate is up for renewal, and Judge Susan Longley will be running for re-election to the position.

Having followed Longley through her many years of service to the state of Maine, I have found her to be conscientious, fair, a voice for everyone regardless of their political affiliation and overall a very caring person.

A small example was in 1998 during the ice storm, when Longley was Waldo County’s state senator. After being without power for two weeks, with no reasonable answers coming from Central Maine Power, I called and left a message on Longley’s phone, not expecting a return call. Longley did return my call and answered my many questions, also giving me information should I need other avenues of help. She did not know me or my political bent, and yet she responded to a citizen of the county.

Longley is running for another term as the judge of probate. Her integrity, sincerity and dedication make her a perfect person for this position. Longley has my vote.

Kate Webster

Belfast

Through the eyes of a child

To help combat all the negative political ads and talk, I thought I would share an upbeat voting anecdote.

Last spring during the primary I decided to take my 2-year-old son with me to the polls. I remember my parents taking me when I was little, so I thought this would be a good experience for him.

On our way out the door, I told him that we were really lucky to live in a country where we select our leaders in a peaceful process. After I finished my patriotic speech, I said, “OK, let’s get ready to go voting.”

My son got this huge smile on his face and said, “Great, I will go get my life jacket!” Then I realized he thought I was talking about boating the whole time. I think he was slightly disappointed that he did not get to go boating that day but took some consolation in his “I Voted Today” sticker.

Michelle Smith

Orono

Vote for Cain

This November, voters in Senate District 30 have the opportunity to elect a proven leader and tireless advocate for our community and state. I hope you will vote for Democrat Emily Cain for State Senate.

I am a registered Republican, and Cain is a Democrat; but I’m voting for her because I know that her focus is always going to be on what is best for the community and state. She’s fought to prevent domestic violence, support local education, improve public health and create well-paying careers in Maine. Regardless of what party you’re in, you probably agree that these are all important values to fight for, and Cain is a proven leader on all of them.

This is an important time for our state and for the towns in our Senate district. We need a leader with enthusiasm, courage and dedication.

Alan Stormann

Old Town

Voting for King

I first met independent Angus King when he moved to Skowhegan to begin professional life as a lawyer for Pine Tree Legal, the group providing legal assistance to Maine people who cannot afford it. Rather than using his degree and intelligence to increase his influence and earnings, King chose ethics and social justice.

King’s almost 20-year-stint as the host of Maine Watch, the television show featuring Maine issues, initiatives and rising stars, demonstrates his deep understanding of, and commitment to, Maine and its people.

As governor, King repeatedly demonstrated vision tempered by practicality. He understood that laptops for middle schools would position our students to do the work of the 21st century, propelling Maine forward. He oversaw substantial increases in funding for research and development, the rebuilding of Maine’s mental health and corrections systems and an historic increase in land-conservation efforts.

No other candidate for the U. S. Senate embodies this valuable combination of ethics, commitment, experience, accomplishment and intellect.

Marjory Russakoff

Southwest Harbor

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