Make military service compulsory

Another school shooting. Another tragedy with grieving parents and students. And even before all the dead were mourned and buried, both sides of the great gun debate have retreated to their respective talking points, led by the failed leadership of our president. Armed teachers? Really? Is he serious?

Perhaps it is time to consider the real meaning of the Second Amendment. Perhaps it is time to make military service compulsory with options after high school.

The potential benefits of compulsory service are many. Our poor and our wealthy would start their adult lives on an equal footing before they go their separate ways. Every young American would learn and practice the secular values of duty, honor and country. And our country would have a very large trained militia.

Imagine the potential long-term benefits of a large trained militia and our place on the world stage. Our country would truly be carrying a big stick, and we could afford to talk softly. Perhaps it would deter another pre-emptive war, as was instigated by George W. Bush, and perhaps diplomacy could end our nearly 17-year-old war in Afghanistan.

The best long-term benefit, however, might be weeding the chicken hawks out our political class, including our president and the ilk who genuflect to him.

Stephen Freeman
Presque Isle

Root of gun problem

Why should anyone, whatever their mental health or previous criminal record, be able to buy, legally, a weapon that is designed to kill many people in a short space of time? Those few persons who are required by their job responsibilities to be prepared to kill many people quickly, such as combat soldiers and SWAT team members, will be issued such weapons. Hand grenades cannot be purchased legally, why should assault rifles be widely available?

The well-regulated militia, whose continued effectiveness is ensured by the Second Amendment, has evolved onto the National Guard over the past 200 years. The National Guard is appropriately armed and does not depend on help from every Tom, Dick and Harry with an assault rifle.

Let’s cut through the distracting conversation about background checks and mental health and focus on the root of the current problem: weapons that are designed to kill many people in a short span of time are legally available for purchase by the general public and should not be.

Charles Hudson

Education proposal wrong

I am an early childhood educator teaching second grade in Maine. I am also a parent of a child in a public preschool program. As we are expanding public pre-K in Maine, let’s be sure we have teachers with an early childhood background in these classrooms.

Early childhood education is a unique and important field, which is generally recognized as working with children birth to age 8. I am concerned about the Maine Department of Education’s proposed change to the elementary teacher certification that would broaden it to allow the holder to teach students from public preschool to the eighth grade. The proposed requirements do not include a foundation and specific competencies in early childhood education.

Those preparing to teach young children in Maine public schools can choose from the early childhood certification (birth to school age 5), the early elementary certification (public preschool through grade three), or both. In the requirements for both of those certifications, there is the necessary focus on key components of early childhood education, including child development, observation and assessment of young children, and early learning environments. I am very much aware of these requirements because I hold both certificates.

There are unique aspects of development in the early years. It isn’t possible to include all the competencies in a program preparing someone to teach 3-year-olds up to 14-year-olds. The proposed changes are moving in the wrong direction.

Let’s recognize the early childhood profession and the distinct body of knowledge necessary to be an early childhood educator.

Selina Warren

Hayes for governor

Terry Hayes held a round-table discussion at our bookstore/wine-bar, Turn the Page in Millinocket. Not only did I deeply appreciate the open-minded and considerate approach Hayes brought to the meeting, but I was struck by her disarming and down-to-earth nature, warm disposition and ability to connect with people of differing backgrounds.

Not only was she aware of all the major issues facing our state, but she was highly informed about each issue. For every issue that was brought to the table, Hayes was able to articulate its impact on our society, as well as how we might all come together to discover solutions. It was evident that her intentions in becoming governor are not driven by the desire for power, but by altruism and a desire to improve the quality of life in our state.

As she so humbly stated in our discussion, “If I’m the smartest person in the room then we have a problem.”

I can only extol further on Hayes’ virtues by pointing out that she transcends the rancor, divisiveness and contentiousness so prevalent in two-party politics. Hayes is running as an independent. She isn’t wasting her time with a broken system that serves to polarize rather than to bridge. She is running a clean elections campaign because she wants to be elected by the people and on their terms.

Ashley Wells

Deport Trump

ICE has just arrested and deported a Maine man who has lived in this country since his childhood, leaving his family here without support. The most offensive part of this is that the deportation program is driven by a man whose mother was an immigrant and who is himself a career grifter without a shred of decency.

I think we should deport ICE agents and the entire Trump cabal to Antarctica, where they can wreak their moral havoc on penguins and sea lions. These Trump followers are an embarrassment to everything nine and 10 generations of my ancestors shed their sweat to build and their blood to defend.

Enough of them, and enough of their idol Trump, who makes the golden calf look redeemable by comparison. He is a poster child for ill-breeding, poor parenting and dishonesty.

William Leavenworth