November 13, 2013

Letters to the editor: Small-school climate will pay off

Regular public schools are capable of offering the same benefits as charter facilities.

Maine’s first two charter schools recently passed reviews by the Maine Charter School Commission (“Commission gives first two Maine charter schools passing grades,” Oct. 31) – a hopeful beginning with room for improvement.

Both schools showed increased attendance (which positively impacts graduation rates) and strong parent involvement. These schools are small, and as such it is difficult for students to fall through the cracks in such personalized settings. Regular public schools can do this, too.

Research in recent years has shown that small, nonselective public schools of choice demonstrate the same benefits as charter schools.

According to “Sustained Progress,” a study by the education think tank MDRC, principals and teachers at 25 of New York City’s small high schools “with the strongest evidence of effectiveness strongly believe that academic rigor and personal relationships with students contribute to the effectiveness of their schools. They also believe that these attributes derive from their schools’ small organizational structures and from their committed, knowledgeable, hardworking, and adaptable teachers.”

In an Oct. 29 blog post titled “In Praise of Smaller Schools,” the Freakonomics website echoes these research findings, noting the value of small schools in boosting student achievement and graduation rates.

Regular public schools in Maine, with support from their communities and district leadership, should be encouraged to create the small-school climate that the charter schools implemented. If done well, the efforts and the investments will pay off in higher achievement and higher graduation rates.

Anne W. Miller


Writers of the Declaration put ‘life’ first for a reason

“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” is a well-known phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence. It gives examples of the various “unalienable rights,” which the Declaration says all human beings have been given by their Creator and for the protection of which they institute governments.

During a time of congressional deadlock over our fiscal well-being, our country was held hostage by some who oppose the current health care system.

I believe that in a document as significant to the foundation of our country, the order of these words are no accident. Before personal happiness, before “liberty,” the word is “life.” The protection of life is the primary function of our government.

Think about it: Would the Founders of our country have wanted people to profit off the weak? Yet we have let ourselves be duped into believing it’s okay. Not just okay, but we should be militant to make sure a despicable profit stream can continue.

It strikes me if all the money that funnels into health insurance were paid to the government instead, shouldn’t we be better off?

After all, wouldn’t we be getting all of the profit dollars over the actual cost of health care to work with, too? Think of it as Medicare for everyone. Let the insurance companies fight over Medigap policies.

Oh, well, I’m sure it is all open to interpretation and I’ve got it wrong, but profiting off the weak doesn’t sound like a good thing, and using health care to hold up the budget was inappropriate.

Mark Rediker


Public unaware of true cost of revealing all on Internet

There is a lot of crying in one’s Coke nowadays about “breaches” of supposedly secret communications.

When are users of person-to-person communication channels going to realize that there is not, and never has been, any such thing as secrecy there?

Individuals, including national leaders, seem to think that the “gentlemen (and, presumably, ladies also) do not read other gentlemen’s (or ladies’) mail (or diaries)” rule really holds.

Actually, the only real secret is one that no other person knows about. The nearest thing to it is found where very few persons know of the item.

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