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Wednesday, July 17, 2013: Military recruiters, buses and education

Stand with veterans

I volunteered to fight in Vietnam. My parents were both World War II veterans. My sense of duty and belief in the U.S. military should not be questioned because I voted against a bill that is already law.

Gov. Paul LePage and Republicans have suggested that my vote and several other Democrats’ votes against a measure to require military recruiters access to Maine public schools is somehow unpatriotic or shameful. We all support military recruiters in uniform having access to students.

In fact, it is already federal law, and Maine schools say they are following it. Federal law requires schools that receive federal funding — which means all public schools — to give recruiters the same access as college and career recruiters. There is no evidence that recruiters in uniform are being kept out of Maine schools. When asked, the LePage administration could not produce a list of schools where uniformed recruiters were denied, and when they did start to name schools, it turned out not to be true.

This was the case in Yarmouth High School, Noble High School and in Sanford. A nonpartisan regional U.S. Army spokesman said the Army has no problems in Maine. “In fact, quite the opposite,” said J.C. Allard, chief of advertising and public affairs for the Army’s New England recruiting battalion. “Schools would want to know who’s on their campus, and that uniform is a dead giveaway.”

I’m disappointed that this bill was used as a shameful political tool to mislead the public. No one has a right to question my patriotism. Out of a sense of duty, I volunteered for an unpopular war when many others left the country to avoid the draft.

My service to this country and my record in support of veterans, speaks for itself.

Rep. John Schneck, D-Bangor



Non-polluting buses

Rick Beckjoud’s July 12 BDN letter about traffic-caused air pollution along Route 3 from Ellsworth to Bar Harbor was appropriate, except for a mistake about the Island Explorer buses when he included them as creating pollution.

Those buses are often propane-powered and produce almost no pollution, since propane is an extremely clean-burning fuel. My little Toyota Yaris at 40 miles per gallon probably creates more pollution than a good number of those buses. Unfortunately I don’t know that number.

Concerning buses almost empty, I think he is either seeing them near the start or end point of their campground route and early in the season. In my experience, some of those buses fill completely, and the drivers stop at their following stops to tell folks wanting to board the buses that they will have to wait for the next bus.

During their first year in 1999, those buses carried thousands of riders, making it possible for many tourists to leave their private vehicles at their motels or campsites. They carry more now.

A figure I once read was that if the private vehicles replaced by the Island Explorer buses were lined up, the line would stretch from Bar Harbor to the Chicago area.

Milton M. Gross



Quality education providers

When I was a sophomore at Hampden Academy, I had the pleasure of sitting with social studies teacher David King 80 minutes a day to discuss civics, history and politics. One lesson has always stuck with me from my time with King: Walls, desks, technology and fancy equipment don’t provide education to our nation’s children — quality teachers do.

My plea is for Hampden’s school board to keep this in mind as they move forward with budget allocations for coming years.

Almost 10 years later, that lesson is relevant in the field I work in — health care. When a critically ill cancer patient chooses a care path, their best outcomes are dependent on a quality, experienced provider and care system as a whole — not the walls that hold the provider. The same is true for education.

As a former Hampden resident, I’m excited for the opportunities and benefits the new school building brings to our community. However, the building shouldn’t come at the expense of educating our children through the best providers — experienced, quality teachers.

I urge the board to think about long-term quality of education and outcomes as our educational providers directly mold the next generation. The new hallways and fancy equipment of Hampden Academy won’t instill the same humble, education-above-all-else values in the generations that will walk through them in coming years.

We owe it to our children to keep quality education providers as the base of the strength of SAD 22. Without them, Hampden Academy is just another pretty building.

Lauren Sturdivant


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