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Wednesday, December 4, 2013: Manna, Pilgrim communism, SAT scores

Manna thanks

I would just like to say thank you to Bill Ray at Manna Ministries.

There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work and networking that happens for other organizations that help the needy in our community, like our food pantry Samaritan Inc.

Thank you very much to Ray and the staff for their effort, dedication and endless hours at Manna. They make the difference for thousands of families in the greater Bangor area to have a Thanksgiving dinner.

We really appreciate how they go the extra mile for everyone.

Debbie Belanger


The original ‘communist’

In the Nov. 28 BDN, Susan Dench wrote that the Pilgrims were communists and that the experiment didn’t work. That’s true on the face of it but doesn’t tell the real story.

The Plymouth colonists came to this country in service to the London Company (an English Corporation set up to exploit colonial expansion), which financed the venture. The original “communist” structure of the colony was necessary because all property belonged to the corporation, and the colonists were its employees. As they worked off their debt, the property reverted to the colonists. The corporation made back its money through trade. Was this type of enterprise successful? Yes and no.

Certain things had to be done communally at the beginning. Laying out the town, building the company storehouse and dock and building the meeting house or fort. Erecting the stockade that defended the village had to be undertaken by the entire population due to urgency and small numbers (about 100 men women and children for several years). Even building houses, clearing the land and trading with the Indians couldn’t be done individually at first. There were also French and Spanish enemies to contend with.

In dealing with those things collective action was absolutely necessary.

In the more personal, family and social context it was a failure because it was something imposed upon them that was alien to their culture. Because of that the “communist experiment” failed. But then, it was never expected to succeed in the long term.

Mark Humphrey


Kudos to doctor

Kudos to Dr. Jonathan Shenkin for his recent election as second vice-president of the American Dental Association. I took my son Christopher to Shenkin when he had his office in Bangor. My son has Down Syndrome and autism.

On our first visit, Christopher became very agitated when he was overly stimulated in the waiting room. Shenkin and his wonderful staff acted immediately and made this mother’s traumatic experience into a great one. His pro-activism regarding early dental care for children has been consistent and educational. He is sorely missed in the Bangor community.

Gail McMichael


Development first

Several BDN editorials including one Nov. 27, “What Happens at Your Child’s Day Care,” have made reference to early childhood development and periods of time that are “crucial for brain development.” The BDN editorial folks might include the importance of proper prenatal care and its importance in the process of healthy brain development.

As a mental health and education professional, I’ve seen countless cases of children being malnourished and/or impaired before birth. Perhaps it is difficult to advocate for an emphasis on prenatal care, if the BDN’s position is that a pre-born child is only a fetus, embryo or group of cells in a woman’s body (unless otherwise “redefined” by the mother). Maybe this prevailing “truthophobic” stance supports a cultural climate of ambivalence toward putting healthy child development first.

Donald Mendell


SAT scores

In a Nov. 26 BDN OpEd, Patrick Mattimore spoke in favor of the continued use of SAT scores in the selection of college students. I worked for 10 years in the the admissions office of a “more selective” college of engineering and science and would like to pass along some observations.

1. As Mattimore noted, the predictive ability becomes insignificant when the test score range narrows. That is, 500 math SAT scores are not competing with 700 SAT scores.

2. The validity studies we ran to test SATs and high school rank in class consistently showed the weighted high school rank to be a much better predictor of first year grade point averages than SAT scores.

3. The same validity test indicated that 60 percent of the variation in freshman grades (GPAs) were not explained by the combination of these two measures.

4. When the validity studies were run on second-year students, 75 percent of the GPA variance was not explained. By the third year there was no significant relationship between the three-year-old test scores and third-year college GPAs.

We realized a need to do a better job of selecting people who would benefit the most from a very expensive education. We ran an experiment: For 10 years, students who had not received offers of admission were permitted to rebut the university’s decision. Rebutting students would agree to take a specific, approved college course elsewhere and ace it with a strong recommendation from the college instructor. This group (about 15-20 per year) consistently out-performed students admitted by the standard process.

Perhaps motivation beats an afternoon’s exam.

Douglas Pike



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