January 24, 2013

Letters to the Editor: LePage out of touch on public education

I'm a retiree and moved to Maine permanently last July from New Mexico (yeah, I had been warned about the Maine winters).

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Gov. Paul LePage is notable for the degree to which he disparages “the quality of traditional public education” in his home state, says a reader.

2013 File Photo/Gabe Souza

Bottom line, I've been receiving the Press Herald since my arrival and following the ongoing arguments about the quality of Maine public schooling and the direction (more charter, virtual/computerized learning) and funding of same.

Frankly, I've been amazed at the blatant favoritism exhibited by Gov. LePage for nontraditional (i.e. virtual/charter schools) public education.

In my lifetime, I cannot remember another governor disparaging the quality of traditional public education in his state as severely as does Gov. LePage. I cannot comment on his motivation, but his pronouncements are clearly prejudicial against traditional public education in Maine, and it appears (to me) he is taking his cues from external sources.

I'll leave it to people who are more knowledgeable and well-informed to "prove" the quality of public education in Maine. As for me, I can only go on the basis of my observations concerning my two nieces and one nephew.

These young ladies and this gentleman (ages 17 and up), products of both "rural" and "high-end" Maine schooling, are articulate, poised and secure in their ability to progress further in their education, and ultimately, a career goal. This would not be possible if Maine public schooling were not doing an acceptable job in preparing Maine's children to assume their responsibilities as adults.

Robert Vayda


The television news on Jan. 9 covered two items. The first was the young mothers' protest against the use of BPA; the second was the Charter School Commission's decision not to grant a charter license to four applicants.

Gov. LePage responded to both, and his remarks were covered as well.

He sounded very sympathetic to the mothers' concerns and said that if their concerns were based "on science," he would support their wishes, but if they were emotional, he didn't know what he could do.

He was angry at the commission and said the members ought to resign for not supporting charter schools and that public education in Maine was in bad shape.

If he had based his response to the commission "on science," he might have noted that the virtual schools that applied have an unsatisfactory record of student achievement. Further, had the governor done more "scientific analysis" of student achievement data in charter schools, he would have found out that the results are mixed.

More "scientific analysis" would also have shown the governor that student achievement data depend on variables other than whether schools are charter or public.

However, I now understand why the governor doesn't want people videotaping his public appearances.

Thomas Wolf


Opponent of Obama budget should detail what he'd cut 

I would like to point out to Jim Burke ("Another View: President, not Congress, to blame for debt ceiling dispute," Jan. 17) that President Obama did not spend $1.50 for every $1 in taxes in the last four years, Congress did. The Constitution is pretty clear on this point -- "The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts."

I am a liberal, social welfare-loving, gun-restricting, gay marriage-approving baby boomer, and I am very aware that the only way we can survive as a nation is to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. This game of political chicken, whereby the Congress and the president say, "You first"; "No, no, after you," is really wearing me out.

And Mr. Burke is not helping. I ask Mr. Burke to define "significant expense cuts." Being the liberal I am, I would propose extensive cuts to the military, but I don't expect that to be considered any time soon.

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