I was quite concerned when I read the recent article about the proposal to require 30 minutes of physical activity for children in elementary public schools (“Maine Senate approves bill requiring exercise in schools,” May 25). 

Students already have a certain amount of access to physical activity simply as part of recess, but in some cases, recess privileges can be revoked as a disciplinary action. The proposal’s sponsor, Sen. Rebecca Millett, thinks that in those cases, students should do something else to get the mandated level of activity. To me, this seems to be replacing apples with oranges. 

Personally, when I was a heavy kid, the only reason I ran around during recess was in play with friends. Had I been encouraged or forced to do some other activity instead of recess, I would have considered that as much or more of a punishment than the loss of recess itself. I suspect it would have made me even more resentful of exercise and probably defeat the intent of the bill. 

I also wonder where those 30 minutes will fit in. Will the students miss out on class, or have to come early or stay late to fit it in? Who will be responsible for monitoring that activity? Is it someone who would try to make it enjoyable, or someone so focused on fitness that they can’t understand why others might not like exercise? 

In the end, I think a better solution to the question of recess would be to simply ask teachers not to withdraw recess privileges and find some other means of disciplining the students. 

I would also strongly encourage the Senate to consider that these types of mandates to children may well backfire and lead to older children or adults who dislike exercise more than they might have otherwise. 

Erica Bartlett

Portland

Bipartisan effort needed to pass MaineCare expansion

The rigid divide between party lines was apparent recently as the Legislature upheld Gov. LePage’s veto of the joint bill to repay hospitals and accept federal dollars to expand MaineCare to nearly 70,000 people. 

When Medicaid expansion has a second vote, separately, we need our lawmakers to work across the aisle in Maine’s best interest. Utilizing these federal funds will improve health, dramatically reduce the number of uninsured Mainers and ensure a smarter use of Maine’s health care dollars, increasing federal investments to our state. 

More people will be able to access a comprehensive set of health benefits, such as mammograms, preventive health screenings and treatment for chronic conditions. Hardworking families will be able to get the care they need without falling into debt from huge medical bills. Maine will also save on costs of emergency care for uninsured people. 

As described in a recent editorial (“Our View: Legislators playing politics with Mainers’ health,” June 3), the Affordable Care Act is “the law of the land.” Despite any objections, it is a reality that no amount of digging our heels in the ground and rejecting federal funds can change. Prolonging the inevitable will only be a disadvantage. 

Regardless whether Maine decides to utilize these federal funds, Mainers will pay for Medicaid expansion within other states through their federal taxes. Doesn’t it make sense to at least reap some of the benefits if we are already paying for it? 

For the best interest of all Mainers, it is time for lawmakers to get on board. Accepting the federal funds to cover more people is a sensible approach to providing health coverage for the uninsured, a good deal for Maine and a smarter use of scarce health care dollars. 

Leaving millions of federal dollars on the table – and so many families in Maine without health coverage – would be foolish. 

Andrea Irwin

Portland

Tax exemption applications should receive closer look

The Internal Revenue Service is being criticized and pilloried for checking applications from organizations claiming “tax-exempt ” status. They should be criticized for not disapproving most of the applications! 

An article on Page A4 of the May 29 issue of the Portland Press Herald states that the IRS should closely examine groups’ applications “to make sure they were not participating primarily in political campaigns, which would disqualify them from tax-exempt status.” 

There must be some small vestige of logical thinking left somewhere in Washington, D.C. PAC is an acronym for “political action committee.” It most certainly is not an acronym for “social welfare committee!” 

I would suggest that the U.S. Congress should be criticized and reprimanded for failure to drastically narrow the rules for granting tax-exempt status.

Charles S. Copp

Westbrook

Prom gives hardworking kids chance to have fun

Can it really be that an article on the American tradition of high school prom based in a small Maine town became the object of such disdain (“Letters to the editor: Prom coverage doesn’t reflect many teens’ reality,” June 2)? 

Could someone actually find the article offensive? I am in awe that they could criticize such an event. 

Firstly, these kids spend most of their waking lives during the school year attending rigorous classes (Advanced Placement and honors-level) of their own choosing, working hard to better themselves and dealing with the real social pressures of high school. 

Prom is meant to be fun. Fun like going to a Sea Dogs game, the beach or up to camp. Fun is a healthy thing. 

When not in school, they participate in time-intensive and demanding after-school sports and volunteer in numerous charitable efforts. 

This year, my daughter helped to spearhead an effort called Becca’s Closet that collected more than 200 gently used prom dresses as well as other prom accessories and held dress distribution days at Portland High School to help those girls in need who didn’t have the means to purchase a dress. 

To say that going to prom is a privileged or socially exclusive event is pure nonsense. The majority of students who wish to attend do so. To suggest that prom is only for those “lucky enough” to have “resources, social connections and family support” completely negates the efforts of those students who work hard both in and out of school to attend prom with their classmates. 

We encourage our children to work hard for and be passionate about what they want to achieve. Isn’t that the American way? 

Jeffrey Leighton

Cape Elizabeth