July 11, 2013

Letters to the editor: Portland Adult Ed has earned support

Two years ago, my first spring as an usher at Merrill Auditorium, I overheard experienced volunteer ushers talking about how inspired they were after ushering at the Portland Adult Education graduation.

click image to enlarge

Portland Adult Education staff member Valerie deVuyst shares a hug with graduate Lia Boulis Kodi at the program’s 2011 graduation ceremony. The program needs a new location that will support its growing enrollment, a reader says.

2011 File Photo/John Ewing

Although I didn't forget, I signed up for two other graduations last year. This year, I caught the brass ring!

Few things in life could be as inspiring and humbling as seeing those adults receive their high school diplomas or GED certificates.

Among those celebrated June 13 were speakers who have overcome huge barriers and worked diligently to meet their goals. Their standing ovations were so well-deserved. I'm sure their stories were representative of many others on stage.

With the June 30 closing-down of its "temporary" home of the last 26 years, Portland Adult Education deserves a new location that will support its programs, participants and administrators.

The need is great. Enrollment in academic programs alone increased 10 percent with nearly 200 students graduating this year; nearly 200 received Workforce Development Certificates last year.

The Portland Public Schools news release states, "We are committed to securing a safe, healthy environment for PAE classes and offices in time for the fall semester."

I've seen enough creativity in this city in my three years here that I know Portland will find a satisfactory solution that will support Portland Adult Education in continuing to provide vital educational programs as it has done since 1849.

"Portland, Maine: Yes, Adult Education is good here!"

Sarah C. Mills


Expansion of MaineCare needs further explanation

A recent editorial suggests that "how we treat the most vulnerable members of our society says a lot about the kind of society we are" ("Our View: Maine kids' health shows value of MaineCare," June 26).

There is some truth in this observation, but the matter is also more complicated.

For welfare activists and their media voices, any perceived need is an excuse for a new or expanded government program. Rarely is much consideration given to costs, efficiency, alternatives or to the trade-offs involved in the use of limited resources.

Take Medicaid. Whatever its benefits, the program has the worst characteristics of the third-party payment system.

It greatly exacerbates the demand for care, destroys any incentive for consumers to seek value or for providers to create it, and its open-ended claims structure is a blueprint for the growing financial burden the program has become for states and the federal government.

Yet the Press Herald and others insist that Maine's program should be expanded. So here's the deal:

Explain how the current MaineCare program, which is already struggling, will be paid for.

Then, even allowing for the highly exaggerated claim of short-term savings from new federal dollars, explain how the state would pay for its share of the long-term cost of an expanded program.

Finally, with higher health care costs, explain where any fiscal slack would come from for future crises or for new initiatives, including social programs, which would be widely beneficial.

Then let's talk more about Maine-Care expansion.

Safety nets are important. So is making them affordable and sustainable.

Martin Jones


Armed terrorists run free in our society, news shows

Three stories popped up on my computer within three minutes one night recently as I trolled for news after checking out the "regular" sources:

A man who claims to be on a Second Amendment mission to educate others about gun rights caused panic last Saturday in Vancouver, Wash., at a family fun center while walking nearby carrying a semiautomatic rifle.

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