April 5, 2013

Letters to the editor: LePage ignores public schools' successes

I am vice chair of the Board of Directors of Maine School Administrative District 60, but I am writing as a private citizen. My views here are my own and are in no way to be taken as a statement by the board.

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Gov. LePage’s recent education reform conference in Augusta “was really a pro-charter propaganda show,” a reader says.

2013 Kennebec Journal File Photo/Andy Molloy

Thank you for stating so directly Gov. LePage's hatred of, and war on, public education, demonstrated by his ceaseless barrages of lies and ignorance about the state and quality of Maine's public schools, and his complete disdain for the hard work and dedication of our teachers, administrators and local school boards ("Our View: Governor declares war on state's public schools," March 29).

The recent actions of Mr. LePage to saddle the public schools with retirement costs while taking state funding – but excepting charter schools – and now demanding an additional transfer of $1 million for the Charter Commission's legal fees – on top of the kangaroo court Mr. LePage called an "education conference" – demonstrate that Mr. LePage's war is total.

The conference's lack of public educators and emphasis on Florida are no surprise.

Several speakers were from a think tank founded by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush that has close ties to the pro-charter American Legislative Exchange Counsel. Readers will recall the close connections between Mr. LePage, Mr. Bush and ALEC.

And your readers should note that Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett, the keynote speaker at the conference, was recently removed as Indiana's superintendent of education by voters who rejected his pro-charter agenda.

This "educational conference" was really a pro-charter propaganda show.

Maine's public schools often best the performance of the very states Mr. LePage demands we follow, despite our low teacher pay.

And the 2012 Quality Counts survey you quoted notes the heavy influence of school funding on performance. Given the financial crises Mr. LePage has foisted on our schools, our ranking should not be a shock.

Charters may well have a place in Maine. But we can't allow our governor to railroad radical reforms without making an honest case, providing fair standards and proper oversight.

Otherwise, we will be looted by unaccountable corporations that care nothing for our children.

David Lentini

North Berwick

Fact check doesn't support writer's views on Bowdoin

A fact check on the commentary by M.D. Harmon on the Bowdoin College curriculum and approach to education reveals a disturbing lack of homework prior to publication ("There's more than one kind of diversity -- but not at Bowdoin," March 29).

He claims the Bowdoin curriculum is too narrow. For example, he cites a summary of a yet-to-be published report that claims Bowdoin offers more courses on gay and lesbian studies than on American history.

A reference to the Bowdoin College catalog for 2012-2013 reveals there are 20 courses offered by the Department of History with specific reference to American history and 17 on gay and lesbian studies. The Department of Government and Legal Studies offers courses on constitutional law and the political system.

Mr. Harmon does not offer an evidence-based dialogue. His citations are not well informed.

He should apologize to Bowdoin students, faculty and fellow alumni.

Stephen F. Loebs, Ph.D.

Topsham

Limit supply to drive up lobster prices during glut

Glad to see the Marine Resources Committee unanimously voted to delay consideration of L.D. 486 ("Panel tables bill to reorganize Lobster Council," March 27).

No one solution will solve our problems The informal online vote the Press Herald took the other day says it all, where 87 percent of the response was against an increase in the surcharge for promotion.

Any place I have been in this world and I say I am from Maine, the next thing they mention is Maine lobster.

In three to five years, when we realize that our $6 million spent on promotion has worked no better than our current promotion council, what will our next plan be?

When there is a glut of lobster on the market, our prices will not go up. We need to limit that flow of product to get better prices.

In this economy, when other protein foods (chicken and beef) are going for $4 to $6 a pound, that is what the consumer is willing to pay. How many of you are buying ribeye steaks versus hamburger? No amount of promotion will change that.

One thing 32 years of lobstering and fishing have taught me is that no two years are the same.

Paul Fischer

Cape Elizabeth

New lobster promotion fee won't help dealers, either

As a small lobster dealer in a family business in Scarborough, the new surcharges proposed to fund the Maine lobster marketing scheme may cause me to give up my dealer license. The fees are too much for small dealers to absorb.

The authors of L.D. 486 believed that it is fair to charge dealers and lobstermen for marketing Maine lobster, but since dealers number in the hundreds and lobstermen in the thousands, the price per capita of this scheme weighs far more heavily on individual dealers.

Not all dealers are large processors. Many of us are very small, family-owned businesses that are not able to pay thousands of dollars in extra surcharges yearly.

I agree with Nelson King ("Letters to the editor: New fee will add to lobstermen's woes," March 21) that the industry is being forced into an advertising scheme from which neither dealers nor lobstermen will benefit.

Most dealers do not believe that this marketing plan will work at all, regardless of the source of funding.

The lobster market is doing exactly what any market would do in the face of record catches and a recession. It would be far less costly to adjust the supply side of the equation than to try to pry more dollars from the pockets of already tapped-out consumers.

I also take issue with the characterization of the meetings held around the state as showing industry support for the surcharges ("Maine lobster industry supports new fee," March 6).

The question posed to the attendees of at least one meeting – in Scarborough – was whether or not they would support any marketing of Maine lobster, even if it were not the proposed plan.

It would be disingenuous to label a "yes" response to this question as broad industry support for surcharges. In Scarborough, the vote was "no."

Susan Bayley Clough

Bayley's Lobster Pound

Scarborough

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