April 30, 2013

Letters to the editor: Baxter Academy hasn't earned charter

After the recent news ("Sign-ups for first Portland charter school falling short," April 25), the message should be clear by now to the Maine Charter School Commission: Parents have pulled out of Baxter Academy in large numbers.

click image to enlarge

A screen shot of Baxter Academy's new website, www.baxter-academy.org.

The coup led by the remaining five members of the board of directors has fallen short. The disingenuous public relations campaign to have parents believe the school has a waiting list, as recently stated on their website, is frankly appalling.

Parents are rightfully skeptical of the Baxter board and remain unimpressed by their leadership. Many parents clearly doubt the ability of this group to deliver a quality education. At this point, what parent would take such a risk with as an important a decision as their child's high school education?

Shame on the Charter School Commission for continuing to bend over backward to accommodate Baxter with such low enrollment numbers.

As a point of clarification, when Baxter Academy previously submitted a 100-student budget, it was for a single grade on a single floor of the building. That proposal was then rejected by the Charter School Commission: The cost of rent and busing made it unworkable.

Maine expects better oversight from the Charter School Commission. Maine students deserve quality schools with a high likelihood for success. The Charter School Commission should revoke the Baxter Academy charter and move on.

Chris Jones


Immigration reform would help Maine asylum seekers

When I read about comprehensive immigration reform in the paper, it sounds like it is all about something that matters only outside Maine, but  a lot of the proposed changes would make a big difference in our state.

One important change would repeal the "one-year bar" on asylum seekers.  

Currently, immigrants cannot apply for asylum if they submit their applications more than one year after arriving in the United States.

This "one-year bar" has prevented tens of thousands of asylum seekers who would otherwise be eligible from obtaining asylum status. You may wonder why and how this happens.

Immigration regulations are complicated, and help is limited. This is a challenge for people with limited or no English.

A missed deadline results in automatic denial or deportation.  

The artificial deadlines and complicated process lead immigrants to take desperate measures sometimes.

Here in Portland, a refugee from Somalia lost his life after a fire broke out in his apartment.

When they all got out from the building, the man asked his wife if she got the immigration documents from the building.  

When she answered no, he rushed back into the burning building and lost his life for an I-94 document.

Our immigration system is difficult and creates fear in the immigrant communities.

For some of us who come from countries where there is war or famine, legalization is a matter of life or death.

I support comprehensive immigration reform and the difference it can make for people right here in Maine.

Mohamud Barre

executive director, Somali Culture and Development Association


Atheists also face exclusion under Boy Scouts' policy

Regarding your editorial of April 21, "Our View: Scouts' plan on gays will perpetuate bias," I suggest that their policy regarding atheists and agnostics is equally biased. Blind faith is hardly consistent with the rational planning and skills that are taught in Scouting.

I was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout prior to developing skepticism in my late teens. When I considered volunteering in my 20s, I was deterred by the oath that had to be signed. Boys lose; who gains?

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