Expanding pre-K

I am pleased to learn that Rockland-area RSU 13 has made expanding pre-K a top priority. As a member of both the business and broader community, I know that there is a tremendous long-term economic benefit from investments in early learning, and creating stronger learners for Maine’s future is a goal all of us share. The broadened horizons and understanding of oneself and the world through education are compelling enough reasons to support this effort, but there’s also a fantastic economic development case to be made.

There is a large body of research showing that high-quality early learning programs reduce the need for later remedial education, improve graduation rates and help our youngsters develop skills they will need to compete in future job markets. These include not only the traditional “hard skills,” like reading, writing and math, but also the “soft skills” — the ability to work as part of a team, communicate effectively and solve problems.

There is also tremendous return on investment in high-quality pre-K programs — up to $16 for every $1 spent. That’s an investment any wise business will make.

If we begin our “workforce development” earlier in a child’s life, we are setting the stage for a more prepared and capable workforce.

As the governor and new Legislature take office in the coming weeks, I hope they will continue to work together to address funding for pre-K so all Maine kids, including those here in the Rockland area, can have the best start in their formal education.

Dan Bookham

Rockland

Ethical thinking

There is something wrong with the way some people think. For example, some worry more about how animals are hunted and killed by man. They should look at what happens when a coyote kills a deer. The coyotes don’t care how the deer is suffering; they just think about eating.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Humane Society of the United States have so much time and money, they should look at how they can help find a way to stop domestic violence and the countless women and children being sexually assaulted each year. They have to live with this for the rest of their lives.

Joseph Riitano Sr.

Sangerville

Law breaking

I interpret the Nov. 24 BDN editorial as approving of President Barack Obama’s recent unilateral action on immigration. The chattering classes say members of Congress must do something about the illegal immigrants, but because they haven’t, the president must. Well, they are wrong.

The situation is this: Millions of people have entered the United States illegally and have stayed here in violation of the law. The current “policy” is to essentially ignore the vast majority of these people, which means that the government condones their law breaking. The president’s new policy is to now reward, rather than just condone, this law breaking.

Again, the chattering classes have said the Congress has done nothing. Well, doing nothing is actually doing something. They did not remove the possible sanctions against these illegal immigrants because a sizable portion of U.S. citizens do not want them to. These citizens, me included, do not believe illegal behavior should be rewarded.

Under our current system of government, Congress makes the laws but does not administer them. The president is supposed to administer the laws but not make them unilaterally. Now, Obama has done both. Perhaps the chattering classes will now say we should do away with Congress because it is not doing what they want.

Douglas M. Flagg

Orono

Lincoln’s vision

The inaugural “Season of Gratitude Pot-Luck Supper” took place at the Belfast Area High School Gym on Nov. 23. Celebrating Abraham Lincoln’s vision of gratitude and reconciliation, members of the greater Belfast community came together to share a common meal.

Sponsored by the Greater Bay Area Ministerium, an interfaith council, this gathering provided an opportunity for neighbors to meet neighbors and identify what there is in our world for which we give thanks. Generous donations of food by the Belfast Co-Op and from Belfast Hannaford helped make this celebration possible. We additionally thank the many volunteers from the community-at-large and the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center for helping make everything go so smoothly.

For those who weren’t able to join us at this year’s very special gathering, tune in to BCTV-2’s “Somewhere in Waldo County” show on Thanksgiving or watch the video at https://vimeo.com/112653295.

Dr. Leslie Umans

Greater Bay Area Ministerium

Belfast

HR 1422

Imagine you’ve been diagnosed with a dangerous medical condition that’s predicted to get much worse. You consult a physician. But that M.D. is hogtied by rules that say he or she can’t access information from the latest in medical research, even if it would help you out in both diagnosis and treatment. What do you do?

Last week, GOP representatives in Washington, D.C., passed HR 1422, a bill that would prohibit the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board from making recommendations based on years of climate change-related research. Not only that, but these scientists could not then participate in any activities that demonstrate their own work — at seminars, meetings of fellow scientists, etc. GOP House members said that scientists must create room on the board for the “experts” with ties to industries — the very ones the EPA needs to regulate.

Now, back to the doctor’s office. Say your M.D. cannot access the latest in medical research, but the pharmaceutical industry will sell you some expensive, possibly untested drug to try, in lieu of getting the best possible state-of-the-art care. Absurd, right?

It’s hard to imagine we would accept such shoddy treatment. But why is it acceptable to disallow analysis of extensive scientific research into the causes and scope of serious environmental problems?

The White House has said that this bill would “negatively affect the appointment of experts, thus weakening the scientific independence and integrity of the Scientific Advisory Board.” It’s dangerous to minimize or even ignore the findings of scientists, no matter what political party you represent.

Beverly Teach

Belfast