As a mom, I am writing to call attention to a group of eight Maine women who are preparing for a trip to Washington, D.C., to tell Congress to end the shutdown. Not the recent shutdown that everyone’s talking about right now – I mean a shutdown that has lasted 37 years.

This month marks the 37th birthday of the Toxic Substances Control Act, a law that was supposed to protect us from toxic chemicals in everyday products. But the law has been a huge failure; out of 80,000 chemicals used in the United States, only 200 have ever been tested for safety before they end up in our products, in our homes and, unfortunately, in our bodies.

The eight women traveling to D.C. are moms, small-business owners and community leaders who will meet with Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King to discuss a new bill before Congress, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act, which has the potential to fix this broken chemical safety system. But first, the bill needs some serious changes so that it actually protects the most vulnerable (like our kids) from toxic chemicals.

This group of eight has my full support, and the support of thousands of Mainers who believe that everyone deserves safe products free of toxic chemicals!

April Humphrey

Westbrook

City should turn old schools into affordable housing

After reading the article in the Sunday Telegram, “Demand for shelter beds surges,” and then reading the article in the Press Herald, “Old schools selling for a song or six figures,” I am extremely disappointed that none of these schools is being converted into affordable housing.

It seemed a no-brainer for Nathan Clifford to be at least partially affordable housing, being right on a major bus line. The city says it has made commitments to end long-term homelessness, but then turns around and goes for the market-rate proposals.

It’s heartbreaking to read about increasing numbers of individuals and families enduring months and months of housing in shelters and motels. Looking around the peninsula, we can all see tons of market-rate condos and new hotels going up, with only one new Avesta apartment building going up on Cumberland and High Street, and one on the site of the old Adams school. I wish my city would do the right thing.

Margo Dittmer

Portland

Sadly, union alone holding CBP managers accountable

Readers last week learned of a $285,000 settlement between Customs and Border Protection and a former CBP officer wrongfully terminated due to her supervisor’s retaliation for her filing an EEO complaint against his comments and workplace-expressed, differing religious beliefs.

NTEU Chapter 141 is proud to have helped Ms. Carnot win her case and glad a modicum of justice has been served. Unfortunately – as she and readers commented – the supervisor and management involved will suffer no discipline and likely continue their illegal activities unabated until they retire.

As unsavory as his violations are, as much as it cost the American taxpayer for CBP to settle with Ms. Carnot, both pale in comparison to others and costs involved. Chapter 141 has repeatedly exposed to senior CBP and DHS management egregious violations by the Maine area director and subordinate officials only to be dismissed in favor of “good old boy” protections. A male temporary supervisor was promoted after telling a female officer, “If it wasn’t for what you have between your legs, you wouldn’t even have a job with CBP” and other far more distasteful discriminatory remarks. The Maine area director was proven to have misrepresented to the chapter in writing to conceal management violations of agency policy. They suffered naught and prosper!

There is unfortunately – at a dear cost to our national security, mission and budget – no one in DHS or the administration holding such unscrupulous, devoid-of-integrity CBP management to account other than Chapter 141!

Alan D. Mulherin

president, NTEU Chapter 141

Limestone

Alert grammar cop finds last line of story arresting

“License and registration please. Hmm. Mr. Ingrammaticus, you’re a copy editor for the Portland Press Herald? Thought so. We’ve been looking for you. Here’s a copy of today’s paper; please read the last line of this story.

“Notice anything wrong? No? Let me read it to you: ‘A Sparks, Nev., middle school teacher was allegedly shot by a 12-year-old student on Monday.’ Still nothing?

“OK, let me spell it out for you. The teacher was not ‘allegedly’ shot. That he was shot is a fact. An allegation is an unproven statement, and the medical examiner proved that the teacher was shot by examining the body. The only allegation is the possibility that the 12-year-old student is the one who shot him. You can say something like ‘On Monday, a Nevada middle school teacher was shot; a 12-year-old student is the alleged shooter.’ That’s not great, but it’s better than what you wrote.

“Oh, you didn’t write it? You pulled it off the wire service? How many times have I heard that excuse? It’s your paper, and you’re responsible for what’s printed in it, right?

“What kind of cop am I? Take a look at the badge. Yeah, you don’t see many of us any more. We’re having trouble finding new recruits; the schools just don’t train them like they used to. But we’re here. Keep your eyes on the rear view mirror.

“OK, you’re free to go, with a warning. Write carefully.”

Gustin Kiffney

Portland

Students will see benefits of new science standards

We strongly support the Next Generation Science Standards and would like to share with the public our perspective on how the standards will benefit our students, schools and communities.

The standards are a blueprint to bring science education into the 21st century, based on vetted research of how students learn. They are different than the current standards in that they emphasize practices in science and engineering that teach students to use evidence and reasoning to make sense of the 21st-century world around them.

The Next Generation Science Standards are not federal standards but the work of experts from 26 states, including Maine, working together. Accomplished K-16 educators and researchers wrote the standards. Citizens across our state and country, including us, provided feedback and leadership for every draft released the last two years.

Working as a broad coalition of states, Maine teachers will have access to free, quality resources that previously didn’t exist and assessments that will save the state money. (For more information, please visit www.nextgenscience.org.)

Our midcoast school districts, Community School District 19 and School Administrative District 28, have begun studying and implementing the standards.

We are uniformly excited about the positive effect these standards will have. The science standards allow teachers and districts significant local control and creativity while offering them guidance on the scope and sequence of topics that should be taught in K-12 science classrooms.

Though this letter outlines our views on the Next Generation Science Standards, we feel similarly excited about the Common Core. We hope that our legislators will join other states in adopting the Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core.

These standards will help guide our school programs to prepare students with complex skills and knowledge that will allow them to engage in a future full of possibility.

Lisa Damian-Marvin

physics teacher, Camden Hills Regional High School

Margo Murphy

global science teacher, Camden Hills Regional High School

Rockport