Monday, April 14, 2014: Government trust, University of Maine System, preK

Posted April 13, 2014, at 9:31 a.m.

Government trust

It was with great interest that I read Amy Fried’s excellent piece, “In LePage’s Maine, little trust in state government.” Fried’s OpEd offers compelling reasons for the mistrust. Allow me to provide a few more.

1. A man vandalizes someone else’s house, but the prosecutor declines to press charges because the vandal once owned the house.

2. A lawyer and a property owner conspire to defraud the buyers of a mobile home by demanding that they pay a former tenant’s back lot rent. When consulted, the authorities advise the couple that the lawyer and property owner acted illegally — but no arrests are made.

3. The state considers opening new methadone clinics, so addicts “don’t have to travel so far” to obtain the drug (which the state generally pays for). But this same state denies health care to a disabled couple.

Perhaps the 30 people Fried mentioned, those who expressed trust in Maine government, are property owners or methadone addicts, because evidently, those are the only citizens the state cares about.

Elizabeth Mills

Milford

Our town

I went to Patten today for my job. It makes me sad and angry to drive through this whole area, from Brownville Junction to Medway and beyond, to see what were once thriving communities. No more railroads, no more paper industry. Our towns are dying; our children are leaving.

We need our young families to have jobs that can support families. We need to take a stand to save our communities, bring back the good paying jobs. Start making widgets, paper or shoes. Don’t even get me started on what drugs have done to our communities.

Robin Lyford

Brownville Junction

 

Lost souls

It is a shame that Bangor’s new gleaming library is overshadowed by the dark cloud of drug infestation, strip clubs and tattoo parlors. All the shiny copper in the world cannot brighten the scene of lost souls wandering downtown.

Kimberly Mitchell

Greenbush

Can’t cut to greatness

The University of Maine System cost reduction initiative is not a new issue and has been recurring for the past couple of decades as chronicled by Matthew Stone’s March 29 BDN article, “ Why Does the University of Maine Keep Fighting the Same Battles.”

Cutting seems to be the only path. No discussion on ways to increase revenues, improve quality and, more importantly, no sustainable plan for the future that would help rectify the revenue problems.

I know the UMS trustees and the chancellor are good, well-meaning people, but “you can’t continue to cut your way to greatness.” It appears from the BDN articles that budgets are driving the goals instead of managing for the mission.

We have good universities, but those can be better by bringing all of the resources to bear to create excellence. The trustees and Board of Visitors at each campus need to sell public higher education as an investment, not a cost. After all, education is the ultimate investment.

The big issue for the future is how to fund our public universities. It needs to be recognized that the problems in public higher education go beyond the UMS trustees and chancellor. They need help from both a legal and political standpoint. Gov. Joe Brennan approved the Muskie blue ribbon panel from the 1980s that looked at the university system. Therefore, I urge the governor and the Legislature to establish a commission on public higher education to determine what is the best plan for the state of Maine.

Amos E. Orcutt

President Emeritus

University of Maine Foundation

Bangor

Support prekindergarten

In Maine, about half of children under age 6 come from low-income families. These children begin school at a disadvantage to financially advantaged peers; 50 years of research show that vital learning happens before age 5. Many Maine children, especially low-income children, are not given the opportunity to make the most of this crucial learning period due to the limited availability of affordable, early educational programming.

Statistics show that 21 percent of young adults from low-income families do not complete high school compared with only 4 percent of young adults from more advantaged families; this statistic is most likely linked to attendance disparities in early educational programming.

Forty percent of Maine school districts do not offer public prekindergarten programs. For families that live in these districts, Head Start and private programs are the only options. These programs are only accessible to families that have the luxury of being able to afford private prekindergarten and/or have a reliable means of transportation. Even if all low-income families were able to arrange transportation, the reality is that only one out of three children who qualify for Head Start are able to receive the service due to limited funding.

I urge all Maine residents to support An Act to Establish a Process for the Implementation of Universal Voluntary Prekindergarten Education. A universal prekindergarten program would transform prekindergarten in Maine from a program that adds to the institutionalized oppression of low-income families to a program that works vigorously to bridge the gap in economic disparities.

Brooke Hackett

Bangor

UM Inc.

For years, we’ve been hearing “the university should be run more like a business.”

With Chancellor Jim Page’s “system office” in Bangor skimming off a cool $20 million a year for redundant administrators, while laying off teachers, we see that these words have come true.

Indeed, the university is being run like a business. The executives are looting it, while at the same time, they cheapen the product and degrade the employees.

Sam Hunting

Orono

Checks in the mail

What’s wrong with this picture?

I just received a monthly bank statement for a savings account. The bank paid the account 8 cents interest and paid the U.S. Postal Service 38 cents to send me the statement.

Fred Otto

Orono

 

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