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Tuesday, March 18, 2014: Music volume, UMaine dorm space, Common Core, right to work


Volume control

Why? Why do music groups such as Lonestar — which presented a great concert recently in spite of the weather — feel they must turn their amps up to the point where the actual music is lost in the distortion?

There were times when I personally experienced pain from the noise, and I did notice there were other patrons with fingers in their ears. Come on, guys; extremely loud music is neither enjoyable nor safe.

Brian MacFarland


Dorm space

Regarding the shortage of dorm space at the University of Maine: Would it be feasible to convert a building with unused classroom space into a dorm? Perhaps some upper class students could provide the design and construction labor over the summer in return for free or reduced housing costs for the following academic year.

David Rowe


Prize column

A recent column by Renee Ordway is a beautiful, skillfully told, and touching story of a Maine couple making a life off the grid. I urge the BDN to submit it for all the Maine and national journalistic prizes including the Pulitzer Prize.

Richard Dudman


Share time

Almost one year ago, I wrote a letter to the editor with the hope that someone would listen to my concerns regarding the fast-paced life of our youth and the pressures on parents in trying to keep up with the hectic schedules and demands of those schedules. I am a Christian educator in a lovely little church in Holden, and I was asking for an hour and a half on Sunday mornings.

Fast forward to today, and nothing has changed for the church. The Holbrook travel team continues to schedule games on Sundays and Saturdays. Why is it that sports has to be all consuming? Young people are young for such a short time. Why can’t we share that precious time?

Donna C. Hall


Bad math

Our governor is proposing legislation to create 22 new positions, which would include 14 drug enforcement agents, four prosecutors and four district court judges with a fiscal note on the legislation suggesting that the cost would be $347,000. This would be an average salary of $15,772 per position.

I find it very hard to believe that law enforcement agents, prosecutors and judges could be employed at such salaries. Is there something the governor is not telling us, or is he simply using the same mathematical acumen as the Alexander Group?

How come in this instance he says, “To me, this is not about the money, this is about the people,” but when it comes to providing health care for poor people, or treating drug addiction, it seems to be all about the money and not the people?

Ron Labonte


American idle

A March 10 BDN article describes Gov. Paul LePage as acting like an experienced business man by proposing large companies should build plants in new “Open For Business” zones.

These zones would have both tax incentives and “right-to-work” status. LePage understands the large risks taken by a company building such large plants and proposes that Mainers share these risks with the new companies. After all, Kodak film plants are idle, and RCA TV tube plants are idle.

I was appalled to read Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, and Matt Schlobohm, executive director of the Maine AFL-CIO, trot out rule 12 of leftist thug Saul Alinsky by using language to demonize the governor’s proposal: He wants to “lower the wages of Maine people,” and right-to-work legislation “is a bad gimicky idea that will hurt Maine families.” These vicious attacks do not help to lift Maine from 50th place to do business in the U.S.

Right-to-work legislation is about work rules. Some farmers suffered severe flooding and soil erosion in spring 2013. At least two farmers I know instructed an employee to chainsaw trees, bulldoze earth into the gullies and replant; with union work rules that would require three employees — two of whom would stand around idle until the other work was done.

Union job classifications prevent eight hours of work for eight hours pay. Honda pays union wages in Alabama, but no one stands idle.

Theo Nykreim


Mental math

Once a month, I depart from the Maine School of Science and Mathematics and return home to my mother and sister. Recently, my cousin and uncle paid us a visit, a rare occurrence because they live in New York. After dinner the first night they arrived, my young cousin began telling my mother and me about his schooling. He spoke of his disdain for “new math,” which I now know meant the Common Core State Standards Initiative. He painted his teacher as a hero who secretly taught them “old math” at times, which he comprehended so well.

Common Core is attempting to have every school district teaching to the same national standards. This is a failed educational approach that will undermine educational quality and choice. States and local communities are better equipped to evaluate the students’ needs themselves. The word “creative” is generally applied to artistic endeavors in our society, but divergent thinking is a necessary aspect of children’s psychological development.

These new standards will prevent teachers and parents alike from making improvements to local education systems. Time and time again, we attempt to enforce “one-size-fits-all” education, and time after time it fails.

Common Core is degrading the value of mental math; most kids can understand basic concepts and solve math equations in their heads, which is what math is, the abstract science of numbers. But now if a child is unable to explain the entire theory on why their answer is correct, then it is dismissed. Math classes are essentially becoming number-based English classes.

I would, of course, never suggest English graduates are obsolete, but if we turn today’s public school children into mathematicians who can’t do math, the future doesn’t look very bright. Standardization should not be at the cost of comprehension.

Haley Taranko


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