Re: Town Councilor Jeffrey Messer’s Sept. 21 Current guest column.

The infamous 1981 Massachusetts referendum “Proposition 2 1/2 ” was not the panacea Scarborough Town Councilor Jeffrey Messer describes in his recent column.

Proposition 2 1/2 limitations resulted in inadequately funded school budgets, which in turn forced the firing of teachers in school districts throughout Massachusetts. Over the ensuing years, school equipment became antiquated, poorly maintained facilities deteriorated and classrooms became overcrowded. Scholastic achievement declined.

Massachusetts legislators, compelled to address the failed promises of Proposition 2 1/2, passed the Education Reform Act of 1994. This act made amends for the budgetary shortfalls local school districts suffered under the constraints imposed by Proposition 2 1/2 by providing additional state monies for local school budgets.

Mr. Messer’s comparison of 2006 Maine SAT results with 2006 Massachusetts SAT results is rhetorically unsound. The results for college-bound Massachusetts students opting to take the SAT were, as expected, higher than Maine students, which included non-college bound students who were required to take the SAT in order to graduate from high school. An appropriate comparison would be one based on college-bound Maine students who took the SAT with college-bound Massachusetts students who took the SAT.

Ultimately, the false choice in Mr. Messer’s argument is the degree to which schoolchildren must bear the escalating costs of an increasingly civilized society.

The true choice is one based on priorities, such as whether the electorate will continue to tolerate military budgets like the 2005 U.S. military budget of approximately $421 billion, an amount somewhere near eight times the military budget of China, the country with the next largest military budget.

Lisa Stapleton Melanson

Cape Elizabeth

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