Kudos to the Maine Sunday Telegram and Colin Woodard for the report on the forces trying to bring digital education to Maine (“The profit motive behind virtual schools in Maine,” Sept. 2). This is a great bit of reporting, and I hope to see more such in-depth stories down the road.

I am very concerned that we have a governor in this state who is ready and willing to open the doors of public education to a private online industry that clearly serves the right-wing agenda of gutting public spending and destroying the teachers unions.

Any policy that allows groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council or the Maine Heritage Policy Center to have undue influence over public education policy in Maine should be vigorously opposed.

I continue to be stunned by the complete lack of decency being exhibited by Gov. LePage and his cronies.

Christopher Duval

Harpswell

The Maine Sunday Telegram’s front-page special report on virtual schools was excellent. Colin Woodard’s efforts spotlighted a whole new realm of educational endeavor, its scope, potential and the way state education decisions are influenced.

I hope he is working on a similar special report on our public schools, on the scope, potential and the way education decisions are influenced by state and national teachers unions.

Julian Pinkos

Kennebunk

I hope every Press Herald subscriber carefully reads the story by Colin Woodard in the Sept. 2 paper, “The profit motive behind virtual schools in Maine.” This is journalism at its best — the kind of story you put on Facebook and Twitter and try to get everyone you know to read and discuss.

While online classes can be a great tool for students and can complement regular classes, research shows that “virtual schools” don’t produce better results than schools with real desks, real teachers and real classmates.

And why, when there are excellent nonprofit “digital education” companies, would we buy from for-profit schools whose main concern is making the largest profit possible? (Owned by ex-prisoner Michael Milken? Really? He couldn’t find any more stockbrokers to prey on?)

And what is the rationale of the Maine lawmakers who are pushing for-profit virtual schools at us? Please read this article, consider whether or not our children’s education is for sale and be very thoughtful about whom you vote for this fall.

Beverly Wood

North Berwick

I fear that schoolchildren who receive digital educations and grow up with virtual classmates will graduate with the social skills of Paul LePage.

Phil Hoose

Portland

Online sales tax bill would help small firms stay afloat

Times are tough for Maine’s small businesses. The economy is still miserable, jobs are scarce and consumers are saving their pennies. On top of it all, local businesses have to deal with unfair competition from out-of-state online giants like Amazon.com.

Under current law, these online retailers don’t have to collect state sales taxes when they make a sale. But regular retailers do. This means online products seem cheaper, and therefore have a big advantage in a marketplace where those consumers’ pennies really do matter.

When small, local businesses consistently lose sales, they are forced to cut their workers and spending in their communities. That means more folks out of work, other businesses losing sales and charities losing funding. Whole communities are suffering, but many don’t recognize the cause.

Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe could help change this by supporting the Marketplace Fairness Act, which gives states the power to force all companies, regardless of their nature or location, to charge sales taxes on transactions within state borders.

This bill is good for Maine, for our communities and businesses, and for America. And it is just plain fair.

Erica Jed

Norway

‘Militant uncompromisers’ hoping to erase progress

Have you seen the slogan “Take back America”? Do we need to ask what this means, and how far back?

In case you haven’t noticed, “America” is already being “taken back.” State legislators have been taking back women’s rights guaranteed in Roe v. Wade (1973) and the Voting Rights Act (1965).

Freedoms are being eroded, not by gun force, but with the power of pens. That which denies many of us threatens all of us. After centuries of our progress, the militant uncompromisers are busy going backward.

Laws are enacted denying essential health care to women, under the label “fetal rights.” Shall women be forced by law to serve jail sentences if they attempt to prevent conception? Should they be tried for manslaughter if they exert themselves and miscarry?

This future is not far-fetched if the “taking back” continues. Our historic health care law is being constantly assailed — a law enabling millions to have the medical care they couldn’t before.

Idealists want to go back to an idealized time for themselves, not for all of us. Women, African Americans, even nonbelievers (an estimated 19 percent of the population) will be disenfranchised.

How did the “take-backers” get in power, if not for voters backing them? Maybe it’s because of what the Jewish people call “chutzpah,” i.e., “unmitigated gall.”

Those with chutzpah are the ones who told us that job creation is priority one, as well as “to defeat Obama,” and then proceeded to filibuster job creation a record number of times. (To defeat Obama, blame him?)

Their refusal to compromise creates a Congress with the lowest approval rating in U.S. history, and brought about the resignations of long-standing moderates such as Olympia Snowe. Now, those of the unmitigated gall ask us to elect and re-elect them — as saviors from the very problems they created.

Isn’t “taking back” just another form of taking away?

Carl Scheiman

Walpole

Newspaper’s layout makes leftist bias hard to ignore

I have subscribed to The Portland Press Herald since the day I moved to Portland — 18 years ago on Oct. 1. I have subscribed to the local newspaper wherever I lived since the day I got a job 23 years ago. I am the person who wants a daily newspaper — on paper — for the rest of my life. I am the cohort that sends you money.

Mitt Romney was below the fold on the day after his speech.

Barack Obama was above the fold on the day after his speech.

In the Sept. 8 paper, there was a little picture of Romney and a much bigger picture of Obama.

As the stories continue on Page A4, the picture captioned “Romney supporters” shows no people!

Online Sept. 8, there is a picture of Obama but not of Romney on the Press Herald home page.

I get the message. I know your majority share owner is married to Rep. Chellie Pingree. I could live with a paper being biased and showing that on the op-ed page.

This blatant display of bias is more than I can take. I expect my newspaper to demonstrate some level of reporting and news — not just serve as a tool for promoting your owner’s political choices.

The next time the bias is so blatant is the day I cancel my subscription. I need and want the local news, but I will not be held captive by that — I will find another way.

Teri McRae

Portland

Voter ID mandate degrades meaning of casting ballot

The difference between showing identification in order to buy a subway pass, cash a check or board an airline and being able to vote is one word.

HONOR.

It is a point of honor to present oneself at the polling station. Voting is the right and responsibility of every American citizen and is based on that honor system.

Demanding identification in order to vote debases the honor of every voter and downgrades all that America stands for.

Sarah Strouss

Boothbay