I am writing to comment on the Maine Voices column by Don Perkins of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (“Maine can lead in science literacy,” Oct. 10).

Having received a tour of the GMRI’s “lab” last spring, I thought Don’s view was on the mark. Seeing children learning in such an exciting environment is inspiring.

The recent milestone of 50,000 children participating in LabVenture! is laudable. And it was accomplished through private partnerships. Don believes that Maine can be “the nation’s most science-literate state.”

I believe that for this to be accomplished, the effort must be both a private and public partnership.

For ages Maine has been successfully marketing itself around tourism. The message has been consistent, and the image has stuck. The drumbeat has been an inspiration and drive for many, many citizens. It is a point of pride for all.

What if the message is broadened to embrace the idea of education excellence and leadership in science literacy?

It wouldn’t be starting from scratch; the system is in place, the human resource is already there; the evidence is coming in through efforts like GMRI’s LabVenture! and others.

Now is a good time to begin sending the broader message out. Before long we will see that it is true, as will the rest of the world.

Jim Casey

Cape Elizabeth

 

Chilean miners’ rescue inspiration and blessing

 

We have to all be inspired by the rescue of those 33 Chilean miners. The media has so much bad news that it is heartening when we see good news.

Mining is among the most dangerous jobs in the world, and we can only hope that more is done to keep the miners’ safety in mind and that we never see what happened in Chile again. This time was a happy ending, living proof that “with God all things are possible.”

Steven Haskell

South Portland

 

Chance to improve tech teaching goes begging

 

On Oct. 14, columnist Cal Thomas advised parents to watch the heart-breaking movie, “Waiting for Superman.” That’s just what we are doing in Maine for educational change: Waiting.

We did not use the first part of the $4 billion grant for training middle school teachers in the Pathway to Technology that leads to a modern high school program for all levels and abilities of kids, called the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program.

In fact, in the whole state, Lisa Mitchel, a student intern at Orono who runs the National Coalition for Maine Girls, and I, a disabled children’s author, are going.

Meanwhile, South Portland wrangles over whether to support its accreditation at the high school. No one in any surrounding districts is going that I know of.

It’s not just the grant money. Corporations like Motorola, Hannaford and Samsung, the American Association of University Women and universities and retired engineers support the effort.

The world-renowned Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics is donating not only curriculum, but also teacher coaching. There’s no other higher math organization than this.

Since 28 percent of kids now live in single-parent households, how long can Maine subsist on minimum-wage jobs? We are at 40 percent now.

Gov. John Baldacci announced this program in 2009. The state curriculum department, gutted to nothing, made no suggestions and said it would wait until 2011.

But there are grants for parents, community centers, fraternities and social groups. The STEM program leads to a program called MTI, technical business ideas of all sorts, invented and designed by kids to help bring companies here that will provide a sustainable environment and a paying wage.

Talk to us when we come back! We might have just what you need.

Alice James

South Portland

 

Columnist’s education efforts appreciated and important

 

Ron Bancroft deserves our thanks for his continued concise analysis of Maine’s secondary public education system, now suffering from below-average test scores and a high incidence of dropouts and “incompletes.”

Surely this is bad news for a state with other problems, such as an aging and shrinking population, a declining industrial base, high taxes and energy costs an ocean fishery with a troubled future, and an exodus of many of our best and brightest high school and college graduates.

Yet, here we are on the eve of an important statewide election and only one candidate appears willing to offer his views on a very large state education budget and its most expensive component, teachers’ pensions.

Certainly this is a hot potato. But should it not be part of the public debate, just like the ones we see argued on the nightly TV news.

John Staples

Topsham

Boosting green jobs here could re-create economy

 

America could bloom again within 18 months: Unemployment could be down to 5 percent again within a year and a half.

But there is only one way to do it. All we would have to do is leap forward and catch up with those nations already going all out for green manufacturing.

That is, we start by manufacturing our own solar panels and solar batteries. Then we equip our new factories with solar power. With the cost of our energy down as much as 70 percent, we can compete on the global market.

Every home, apartment house, school, college, business and factory, by installing solar, could swiftly enjoy a big cut in energy costs that would soon defray the cost of installing solar. Banks could give loans that could be paid off with the savings.

We would not have to spend billions to build a big new electric grid, or more utility plants burning fossil fuels – and adding to carbon release – to cover the 30 percent difference.

We would not need more nuclear plants. We would not have to buy more wind turbines from China increasing our trade deficit. We could cut the carbon release way down, the pollution way down, within months.

Germany has already gone all out for big-time green manufacturing built on their own solar systems. They clearly have no more sun than we do!

It’s time to get real. Are we going to let Big Oil and Big Coal keep the country in the poorhouse?

George Eaton

South Portland