Outraged at Emera rates
I am outraged to learn that Emera Maine’s distribution rate in our electric bills may go up again. The proposed distribution rate increase is enormous: 19 percent.
I sincerely hope that the Public Utilities Commission recalls that Emera Maine requested a rate increase in 2013, 2015, 2017 and now in 2019. It is not possible for many older Washington County ratepayers, particularly those on fixed incomes, to absorb these rate increases time and time again. We have heating bills to pay, food to buy and cars to maintain. We need to pay for skyrocketing prescription medications. What do we do if electricity becomes unaffordable?
This is Emera Maine’s fourth request in six years. Apparently, the company cares more about its bottom line than it does the well-being of its customers.
Absenteeism isn’t one size fits all
I recently received a letter from my son’s school, citing the number of days he’s been absent. If he reaches a certain number, he is in danger of losing class credits, even though he is completing his coursework and succeeding in his classes. This is his school’s policy, created due to the Every Student Succeeds Act.
The act requires schools to develop an accountability system by measuring absenteeism. As a result, schools and districts perceive chronic absenteeism as a high-stakes measure that results in applying a “one size ﬁts all” standard. It has become an accountability metric that does not address the system, but instead blames the student. Even when the student has a disability and is protected by an Individualized Education Program.
Studies show that students who are served by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act are nearly twice as likely to be chronically absent than those without a disability. These increased absences are most often directly related to their physical, emotional, and/or mental health conditions. Studies also report that chronic physical or mental health conditions that cause absences occur much higher among youth with an IEP, than among those without an IEP.
Consideration should be given to ensure that such policies do not have unintended consequences for students. This kind of policy ultimately makes school less engaging for children, and the punishment undermines efforts to assist our most vulnerable and struggling students.
Support community arts
Community arts matter to our individual and collective wellness. A creative community is happier, healthier and more productive. Everyone at every age benefits when their local culture nurtures opportunities for creative engagement and learning. Community arts address an important health need because the experience reduces stress and provides a common ground for inclusiveness. Sharing arts with peers helps us better understand ourselves and others and brings meaning to the things we care about. It’s how we celebrate life together.
I teach therapeutic arts and know the value of community arts in a group experience. I’m the founder of Art HOPE, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting creative wellness through free expressive arts programs for people living with cancer or long-term illness, and the community at large, in collaboration with schools, health organizations, and arts groups in Maine. I support the arts and wellness because it’s how we grow and sustain healthy communities.
The Bangor Savings Bank Foundation recognizes this need and will award grants to nonprofits through the Community Matters More initiative. During February, Maine residents can vote online to support Art HOPE and other nonprofits making a difference.