While I agree wholeheartedly with business leaders Eileen Skinner, Tom Peters and Dana Connors that early childhood investments can pay dividends for Maine’s economy (“Educate kids early to help everyone later, businesses say,” April 20) I have another reason to support these programs: They are important to our national security.

As a retired Army general, I am concerned that military service is out of reach for millions of young adults because they cannot master the math and literacy skills required by the military’s basic entrance exam.

Currently, more than 30 percent of our young people nationwide — and 24 percent in Maine — are not graduating from high school on time. Even among those who do, many are deficient in essential academic skills and cannot join.

High-quality early education programs are a proven way to improve academic performance and increase high school graduation rates, thus making more young people eligible for military service should they choose to serve in uniform.

Not only do these programs promote early reading and math skills, they also help cultivate curiosity, build character and develop social skills.

Success in the military, like success in many careers, demands self-control, the ability to work with others and a mindset to stick with a task until it is completed. Quality early-learning programs can help young children develop these skills and put them on the right path toward successful careers as adults.

I would like to echo the comments of Maine business leaders in Kelley Bouchard’s article: High-quality early education programs are a wise and sound investment.

Tom Kinley

Major General (U.S. Army, retired)

Cape Elizabeth

 

It was great to read in the April 20 Portland Press Herald about Maine’s business leaders rallying to support high-quality early education for all Maine kids.

As police chiefs, we’re on the same page. We recognize that at-risk kids who attend high-quality early learning programs are less likely to become involved in the criminal justice system as adults. Several research studies reinforce what our experiences have taught us.

A long-term study of Michigan’s Perry Preschool found that by age 40, children who did not attend the high-quality early education program were seven times more likely to be arrested for possession of dangerous drugs, four times more likely to be arrested for drug felonies and 50 percent more likely to be arrested for violent crimes than those who participated.

Today, too many young people turn to crime instead of college or a career. That makes them a drain on our economy instead of a productive participant.

We need to stop that trend. Support for quality early learning for Maine’s youngest citizens is not only good business for Maine. It’s a public safety priority.

Michael Morrill

Chief of Police

Yarmouth

Gerald Schofield

Chief of Police

Freeport

 

Waterfront policies thwart useful, needed construction

 

After reading the April 22 story about Eric Cianchette putting his Maine Wharf up for sale in Portland because of his frustration with the city thwarting his plans for a luxury hotel on his pier, it brings up the vital question — once again — of Portland’s myopic stance on waterfront development.

There it is. The city’s most valuable asset lying fallow as the fellows and maidens of City Hall stumble over the inertia of their leadership.

Chandler’s Wharf and Portland Pier are two of the most viable housing options in the city. Yet, if a renewed waterfront zone comes to pass, why should it be limited to commercial development only? Wouldn’t the people of Portland want the opportunity to live on the water too?

How perfect is it to see the morning sunrise over Casco Bay or be able to walk anywhere downtown from home?

Get with it, Portland, and do it right for a change.

John Golden

Portland

 

‘Business-friendly’ bills would harm one: tourism

 

Is our new governor really “pro-business”? Granted, the 50-plus proposed bills do appear to be aimed at helping some businesses function without certain legal restraints.

Yet one of Maine’s largest sources of income — tourism — appears to me to be greatly threatened.

Who would want to visit a state where tourists could receive a dose of pesticide from unannounced aerial sprayings (LDs 16 and 228), and where children and families are not protected from toxins (LDs 930, 1129, 1404, 1960)?

Who’d plan a vacation in a state that does not protect its natural attractions (LDs 210, 219, 256, 281, 387, 434, 671,872, 1135, 1154, 1386, 1894), and that allows its waters to collect pollution (LDs 159, 333, 341, 515, 888, 1022, 1894)?

Who’d write post cards extolling the beauty of a North Woods full of shopping malls (LDs 1, 17, 281, 1031, 1321,1640, 1863, 1321, 1043), and a state that bulldozes its wildlife habitats (LDs 156, 341, 116, 1031, 1161)?

How many visitors would be inspired to move to a state whose energy program would be the opposite of what we’d expect from a smart, technologically wise 21st-century community (LDs 43, 431, 485, 502, 620, 729, 789, 793, 892, 904, 947, 1046, 1121, 1653, 1749)?

Clearly it takes a lot of bills to try to dismantle the hard work that past legislators have done taking care of Maine.

The titles of many of these proposed bills are misleading. I hope our current legislators see them for what they are — and turn them all down.

Mariana S. Tupper

Yarmouth

 

I am a long-time summer resident with deep roots in the great state of Maine (my grandfather, Fred Owen, was the editor of your paper way back when). My concern is the future and safety of one of our greatest natural resources — our wonderful lakes.

The threat is a trio of shortsighted bills before the legislature: LD 219, LD 424 and LD 888. Collectively they represent a developer’s dream and a disaster ecologically.

My summer home is on Lake Megunticook in Camden. We have been there for 60 years. It is beautiful and this misbegotten legislation could destroy all that. I hope that wiser and more sensitive heads will prevail.

Harrison Owen

Camden and Potomac, Md.