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Friday, May 10, 2013: School ranking, concealed weapons permits and melanoma

Not making grade

I feel the new ranking system implemented by Gov. Paul LePage and the state of Maine is not useful for communities, schools or students. Good education is so much more than the results of a standardized test.

As a parent and grandparent of students who have graduated or are attending schools in RSU 3, as well as a retired elementary employee, I think grades of D and F are unfair.

When I was an educational tech in the Title 1 Reading Program, I was in and out of elementary classrooms at various grade levels and worked with many teachers. I also attended many meetings for individual students as teachers, administrators and support staff made plans to help that particular student to improve. These plans did not always work, but if the first plan was unsuccessful, it was revised.

I saw a lot of good individual and classroom teaching and learning. This does not happen without hard work and much flexibility from teachers and support staff as they try to meet the needs of each student.

The goals were not always accomplished, but many were, and there was often progress in the right direction for a better education. Educators need our support to continue and improve all that they do. A student who is working and moving toward a goal should not be given a D or F, and neither should our schools.

Gail Suomi


Guns: Private, confidential

I am a student at Unity College, studying conservation law enforcement. I am writing this in response to the March 10 BDN article “Protecting the privacy of concealed weapons permit holders.”

I am in support of making concealed carry permit holders’ names and information private. I feel that this is necessary for not only the permit holders but also the general public. I feel this way because with that information open to the public, it can make it easier for criminals to rob houses that are not on the concealed carry list.

Now, I understand that does not ensure that there is not a gun in the house for hunting or protecting, but giving a list of names out of people who can carry guns is wrong. Everyone has the right to privacy, and giving that privacy only to those who do not have a concealed carry permit is not fair to the rest.

Also with those names being public, it could impact those people’s lives in a negative manner due to the fact that people may not like guns and may not want to be around them and could essentially be treating concealed carry permit holders like lepers.

When this nation was founded, the founding fathers set up the Bill of Rights and the Second Amendment to guarantee the right to bear arms. Granted, this doesn’t have to deal with taking firearms away from anyone, but it takes away their privacy in being able to carry that firearm. I strongly believe everyone has the right to privacy, and, therefore, the name and information of Maine licensed concealed carry permit holders should be made confidential.

Philip Horner


Prevent melanoma

Beware of melanoma. It kills kids. Be aware that melanoma is the one of the most common cancers in teenagers, especially in girls. Teenagers are the fastest growing group of those diagnosed with melanoma, according to the May 2013 edition of the magazine Pediatrics.

Melanoma is caused by ultraviolet light the majority of the time. UV is a strong carcinogen. Teenagers are exposed to UV more than any other age group, the magazine said.

A ban on indoor tanning would help prevent this deadly cancer in kids. There is power in prevention. The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Dermatology, World Health Organization and others recommend legislation to ban minors from indoor tanning.

Last month, Gov. Paul LePage vetoed such a bill, LD 272, in Maine to reduce cancer in youth. He feels we should have a choice to expose our children to cancer-causing devices.

There’s nothing pretty about melanoma, its treatment or the scars left on faces of lucky survivors and in souls of affected families. We need to protect our kids because we want our youth to be with us — to work, to have families, to build economic prosperity.

Try to think about that, parents, when asked to sign for permission before the prom for daughters to voluntarily expose themselves to cancer-causing UV in tanning booths. It would be prudent, if we want to prevent melanoma in our precious daughters and sons, to take the valuable advice we give to our kids: Make good choices, use sunscreen and don’t use indoor tanning.

Janice L. Pelletier, adjunct associate professor, University of Maine


Missionary service helpful

The May 5 BDN article regarding changing age requirements for Mormon missionary service reminded me of my service more than 20 years ago. I left from a relatively sheltered middle-class life in a small town in the Hudson River Valley of New York.

While serving as a missionary I visited and came to know and appreciate people from many different walks of life, most of whom did not share my beliefs. It was a great experience, and I learned a lot from those I met and worked with, particularly those whose backgrounds were substantially different from mine.

I came to love the areas I lived in and enjoyed serving in the communities. As a missionary, I was able to meet many who felt abandoned or alone, some who were estranged from family or dealing with profound loss or crippling addiction and provide some measure of hope and comfort to them.

It was rewarding to see people change their lives, overcome addictions and habits and become happier. But perhaps the most profound change was in my own life as I learned to look beyond myself and my wants to truly care about others. I believe I am a much better husband, father and community member because of my service, and I’m grateful for the opportunities and experiences missionary service provided to me.

Hans Peterson


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