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Wednesday, April 3, 2013: Gateways, graduation rates and guns

Legalize, control drugs

Legalizing marijuana is an easy way out? Here, in the March 29 OpEd “Marijuana legalization: An easy way out,” by Robert Dana, only one side of the problem was observed. The idea that marijuana is a gateway drug is a myth. Banning marijuana is the gateway.

The black market is not controlled by nature, and the criminals who are selling drugs to kids make more profit on addictive drugs than they do on marijuana.

These pushers will be out of weed and conveniently offer some “substitute.” This substitute is the gateway. Legalizing it means controlling it.

Carole IllouzThompson



Integrate MOOC courses

A recent article about the Maine legislative committee on Maine’s workforce development and economic future did not mention the present and future impact of the Internet on education and training.

During the last few years, there has been a rapid increase in the number of massive open online courses, also known as MOOCs, offered by universities and colleges throughout the world.

In the future, these classes will become an important component of the education and training offered to Maine citizens.

It is important that the Legislature not only consider the proper role of MOOCs but also anticipate the additional certification required to seamlessly integrate these courses into our present training and education system.

Bruce Bird



Wait, America

No abortions, protect life. But wait, let’s cut school aid, job training funding, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid.

We don’t need to raise the minimum wage; let’s make it hard to vote, make more guns and pass a law so if someone thinks they’re in danger, they shoot and shoot to kill.

Take responsibility for life; go out, and get a job that is part-time with no benefits and low wages. Wait, many of those were shipped overseas.

Give us more tax breaks, and all these things will trickle down. Wait, we have been doing that since the Reagan administration. How’s that working?

Thank the Republican Party and all the people who have more money than they can spend. I understand that they need more.

If we can clean up the cheaters on welfare, stop carting druggies to get their dope fix at my expense and stop giving corporations who pollute the earth tax breaks, we might be surprised.

But wait, we can’t do that. How will politicians line their pockets?

Gerald Burgess



A cautionary tale

There is a tale of the general who came to a river that separated his troops from their destination. Told that “the average depth was only 2 feet,” he confidently ordered his army to walk across.

Most of the soldiers drowned. As the late Stephen J. Gould would caution, any average is a mere abstraction, with variation around that average being the reality.

The importance of variation goes well beyond negotiating rivers, as I was reminded while reading the March 30 informative analysis, “Will workforce committee’s work close Maine’s skills gap?”

This article pertains to a special legislative committee that has set out to strengthen Maine’s workforce, in part by increasing the percentage of Maine’s population holding a post-secondary degree

We are told at one point that “the graduation rate” for Maine’s public universities was 48 percent in 2008. True, but like the river’s depth, these schools’ graduation rates vary widely.

For example, the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard presently shows a “high”

graduation rate of 60 percent for the flagship UMaine campus in Orono and a “low” graduation rate of 33 percent for the University of Southern Maine in Portland.

To be sure, any school should strive, and be expected to strive, to improve its graduation rate. And improving graduation rates clearly is a relevant piece of the policy equation for increasing post-secondary degree attainment.

But high-stakes discussions about “the graduation rate” must go further by considering the great variation among schools in this important regard and, in turn, the associated implications for policy.

Ted Coladarci



Available weapons

The March 29 story, “Newtown school gunman fired 154 rounds in less than five minutes,” expressed concern about Adam Lanza’s thinking. Should we also worry about Nancy Lanza’s thinking, about her carelessness and about her participation in her son’s horrific crime?

Lanza, the mother of the killer and the first of his 27 victims, did buy the guns her son used in the massacre. She brought Lanza to a shooting range, so he would know how to use them.

Then, she made the fatal decision to keep the weapons unlocked and available to him. A fatal decision that resulted in 28 deaths.

How many gun owners in America keep their guns unlocked and available to the next disturbed, disgruntled or angry family member, friend or neighbor who will commit the next massacre?

Robert Gossart

Salisbury Cove

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