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Thursday, May 9, 2013: Maine School of Science and Mathematics, SATs and clean elections

Support GMO labeling

I couldn’t agree more with the April 20 BDN letter, “Food consumers’ rights,” by Bob Lodato. Many years ago, I gave testimony in Augusta when a similar bill to label genetically modified foods was introduced. I was taken aback by the number of paid lobbyists in attendance who had a vital interest in seeing the bill defeated.

If, as Lodato states, “91 percent of Mainers want to know if the food they are buying contains genetically modified ingredients,” what’s preventing our legislators from acting on it?

It is tiresome that we’ve been debating this issue for so long with no results, when many countries have been labeling GMOs for years.

Our laws are clearly being influenced by paid lobbyists who have no interest in giving us the tools to make good, informed food choices.

Ask our legislators to support LD 718.

Monique Gautreau


Unfair comparison

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand why the students at the Maine School for Math and Science in Limestone are doing so well. These kids are hand-picked by the faculty because they have very high abilities to learn in math and science.

Other schools in Maine should not be compared to this school because all students are enrolled in our public schools, and I mean all.

This is like comparing apples to oranges. It is not fair, and it does not work. Comparing public schools to public schools would be a better scenario, but leave the school in Limestone out of the analysis.

Doug Pooler


Standard practice

In my opinion, no one should be able to get their license until they can drive a standard. Common sense will tell you if you have three pedals and a stick shift, then you would not be able to hold a cellphone.

Children need to learn responsibility and respect if they want things. This is the best idea for stopping texting while driving. If they want to be treated like adults, then they need to act like adults.

Judy Welch


LePage assessment

The BDN editorial “Why LePage’s grading system for schools is flawed” noted that high schools were heavily penalized if too many students missed taking the Maine High School Assessment.

However, the editorial didn’t mention that schools cannot control participation in the SAT, one of the two components of the MHSA, because the test is given on a Saturday, and there is no provision for a make-up on a normal school day.

This situation is not the fault of the schools; it is the fault of the state for choosing this mode of testing. The school at which I work missed the Department of Education’s mandatory SAT participation rate by 0.8 percent, which in our case amounted to one student.

Our grade was therefore lowered to a C because one of our students was doing a semester in Vermont, a second could take the test only at the risk of losing his job and a third lost her grandmother the day before the test administration.

The DOE’s detailed report said that our low participation rate, 94.2 percent, affected the validity of our school’s statistics. I would suggest that the DOE should first look at the validity of its own methods.

This investigation should begin with the fact that during the past five years the state has paid for thousands of students to take a test that was designed as a predictor of college success and was never intended to be a measure of overall academic achievement.

Paul Gilden, math department chairman

George Stevens Academy

Blue Hill

Against special interests

This has been a huge couple of weeks for the movement to address the problem of money in politics. We Mainers stood up and declared our intention to help overturn many key provisions of the notorious Citizens United ruling, becoming the 13th such state to do so.

I am extremely proud of our elected representatives who have emerged in a rare demonstration of bipartisanship to reject the notion that money equals speech in our election system. I am proud of us as voters, because despite reduced participation in the Clean Elections Program and record-shattering sums of money spent on privately funded races, we overwhelmingly elected Clean Elections candidates in 2012.

We have a chance to strengthen our own model Clean Elections Program and increase transparency in our legislative and gubernatorial elections with two bills in front of the Joint Standing Committee of Veterans and Legal Affairs. One, introduced by a Republican, will replace the matching funds feature of the Clean Elections Program. The other, introduced by a Democrat, will address gaps in funding disclosures in Maine elections.

In a particularly rancorous and partisan atmosphere consumed by negativity emanating from the Blaine House, Maine lawmakers have stepped up in the name of positive change. I, for one, am excited for the opportunity to encourage our elected officials to work with, rather than against, each other to restore the most democratic principle of a government by and for the people, not wealthy special interests.

Lucas Desmond


Bangor’s seniors the best

As a 24-year-old resident of Bangor serving on the Bangor City Council, I was thrilled to hear the news that our Queen City has been named one of Forbes 25 best places to retire.

Every day our community is moving forward. Our economy is in an upswing; more cultural events are happening, and folks feel closer to their city like never before.

However, we must never forget those who have made our community what it is today. Our seniors are one of our greatest assets.

In the heart of our downtown, we have a very special place known as the Hammond Street Senior Center. It was created to give folks a place to learn, stay physically fit and continue to be connected to the community that they helped build. This invaluable resource serves almost 1,000 members who are proud Bangor residents.

In the past, our city council has contributed a relatively small amount to these folks in relation to the immeasurable value they provide. Our current budget proposes another year of flat funding.

In these hard economic times, we must look for our budgets to be fiscally sound. But our seniors deserve better than what we have provided thus far, and we should grant them their modest funding request at $35 per Bangor member. It might not be much compared to the contributions they have made, but it is definitely a step in the right direction and a truly responsible investment.

Charlie Longo, city councilor


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