I join urgently in the outcry over designating as “dropouts” students who take five or more years to graduate from high school.

Maine educators have exerted themselves for years to help teenagers who struggle in school to “stay the course,” to graduate. It requires character and courage for an adolescent, who may learn slowly or who may have stumbled, to commit to an extra year or more.

Students who stay an extra year and graduate deserve acknowledgment. To me they are educational heroes, committing themselves to meeting the standard their society projects for success in adult life.

As an example, each year an average of three students at Freeport High School graduate in five years.

By what notion of integrity does Maine classify a student who has never interrupted schooling a “dropout”?

One might suggest that such a student does not need to know of his or her status in the school’s official records. But again, how could a school leader justify withholding a student’s official status?

It might be argued that accounting for five- or six-year graduations cannot be done by existing data systems or that such accounting might be locally manipulated. But accounting for five- or six-year graduates should not be a problem.

Each student is identified discretely each year in Maine’s MEDEMS database. It is also a standard practice for colleges to report on their four-, five- and six-year graduation rates annually.

Along with many Maine educators, parents and students, I urge the Department of Education to account honestly that students who remain in high school for five or more years and graduate are “graduates,” not “dropouts”!

Tom Edwards

Assistant professor, USM Programs in Educational Leadership

Principal, Freeport High School, 1996-2006

Superintendent, Portland Public Schools, 1990-1995



Racism charge, made too often, loses its impact


Every white man born in America today is automatically assumed to be a racist by some people.

It doesn’t matter that his ancestors were European immigrants at the turn of the century, or that his family never owned slaves, or that he wasn’t raised in the South, or that he honestly holds no ill will for people of color anywhere.

No. According to the current progressive social indictment, white American men are innately guilty of racism because they have culturally “benefited” from the historical racism of all others, anytime and everywhere.

And further, the only way to absolve themselves of this racist Scarlet Letter is for them to confess their white guilt and accept the brainwashing being dispensed by the institutional race machine.

But unfortunately, this race debt is one that can never really be repaid. Just like the Middle East tensions, this struggle will never end.

Therefore, white American men must prepare themselves for an eternity of both accusation and penance for a sin they never knew they committed.

So this then begs the question: If someone is never going to be forgiven for something they never did, why should they even try?

And who really is to blame when they eventually realize the fruitlessness of the endeavor? The race card has become faded and worn from overuse.

Those who resort to playing it need to realize how pathetic and truly impotent they appear.

Jeffrey K. Jacob



Why do energy bills languish as adverse impacts grow?


As devastation from Gulf oil continues even after the well was capped, it is becoming all too apparent that fossil fuels are fouling our environment in planet-changing ways.

Though slimy birds and turtles are visual reminders of the impact, invisible gases formed as fuels burn relentlessly warm the atmosphere and oceans. And yet, the government provides huge subsidies to this industry.

Meanwhile, according to your July 23 article, clean energy legislation languishes in Washington. New solar and wind businesses are folding because they can’t wait for a national clean energy surge.

What is wrong with us? I am outraged that our lawmakers in Washington have not been able to pass a clean energy bill.

According to Dr. Paul Epstein in a Harvard Medical School publication, pollution from burning fossil fuels and higher levels of pollen due to temperature increases are leading causes of asthma and other lung diseases.

Even if legislators are skeptical about the human impact on climate change, a vigorous move to renewable energy will produce huge dollar savings on improved health, strengthened national security and provide additional green jobs.

Clean energy needs to be a priority for our nation. We can’t wait any longer to address the biggest challenge of our generation.

Fran Ludwig



Motorcycle rider sees lots of discourteous drivers


I’m a disgruntled motorcycle rider. My wife has been riding with me as a passenger for 38 years.

For our entire marriage, I have never been close to being hit by another motorcycle, but have been close to being hit hundreds of times by other vehicles, mostly by people talking on cell phones or texting, or after being cut off by just mean, rude drivers.

The windows in my house shake from loudspeakers in cars every day. Rice-rocket motorcycles go by on the back wheel with young girls as passengers, and it scares me for that person’s family. I have sons and daughters and it scares me.

I have a Harley that is a little loud. I don’t abuse it in residential areas or at midnight to wake people.

Most of us who have ridden a long time police each other. I do fundraisers and participate in them to raise money for veterans and worthy causes.

Recently 100 bikes rode for domestic violence. We ride for Home Town Heroes, police, firemen, EMTs. We ride because we like it: It’s a hobby, a way of life.

I apologize for the really loud bikes and those who will ruin our passion to do this. Motorcycle drivers do not talk on cells and do not talk or text on a moving motorcycle.

How about the concerned public? Would you be as courteous to us?

Theodore Perry



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