I am in total agreement that Maine schools can’t stand still in school reform efforts, and I know that there are many educators and state Department of Education representatives who feel the same.

I am principal of Lyman Elementary School in RSU 57 and the facilitator of the district’s movement toward providing learning that is customized to individual students.

Our district is working with the Department of Education and five other districts across Maine to take unprecedented steps to make learning more accessible to students.

In July 2009, we began work with the Reinventing Schools Coalition to redesign our system to involve the learner in the learning process. Work was done in the past year to educate our entire staff on why we must change and how we create the framework and structures in our schools and classrooms to make these changes possible.

The six cohort districts are currently working with the Marzano Research Labs to restructure the Maine Learning Results and the Common Core of Learning into workable and measurable learning targets.

Students, teachers and parents will understand exactly what students must know and be able to do in order to succeed. They will also have a comprehensive breakdown of what goes into these targets so when there is work to be done, everyone will know exactly what must be done to move forward.

There is a long way to go in this never-ending process to become better. As an education community, we must open our doors and demystify what we do within our walls. We must also begin using the world around us to teach and open our minds and system to account for the learning that goes on in the real world.

We are changing. Maine will become the cutting edge.

Kevin Perkins

South Portland


More gas price increases could wreck weak economy


Thank you for recently publishing the article “Average cost of gas tops $3, a two-year high.”

The article states that “the last time oil prices surged above $100 a barrel in 2008, the world economy crashed and oil prices tumbled from $145 a barrel to $45 a barrel in a year.”

I have been waiting a long time to see that said in print. With all the talk lately of high taxes, too much government regulation, repealing the health care bill, etc., I think it would be better for this country to focus on the major factor behind our current economic recession, high gas prices.

As it says in the article, gas prices directly affect the cost of living, from the cost of food to transportation and the many other goods that depend on transportation.

Lowering taxes may help a little to strengthen our economy, but if the price of gas goes up to, say, $5 a gallon, our economy will crumble again regardless.

We as a country need to keep this in mind, prepare for it and not just depend on the government to find all the solutions for us.

Chris Uraneck



It’s wonderful to have our president and first lady painting a mural of fruits and vegetables to encourage healthy eating for children.

It’s a tragedy, however, that the president doesn’t realize that many Americans who are struggling to buy oil to keep their families warm don’t have the money to spend on food.

Is the outrageous price of oil and gasoline ever going to be addressed by the Obama administration?

Mary E. Clancy



Lessons from Tucson offer warnings and hope


If I were mentally unbalanced, paranoid and resentful, the near-ceaseless reports about every detail of the Tucson shooter’s life might lead me to conclude that I could gain the attention and respect I felt I deserved by performing a similar act.

An examination by the media of how the shooting might have been prevented could be worthwhile, but their accompanying virtually every story about the Tucson event with a picture of the shooter’s maniacal and seemingly triumphant face, while rehashing over and over things he has said and written, strikes me as only pandering to morbid curiosity while risking encouraging a copy-cat event.

How odd that many in the media looked for a connection between the shooting and political debate, but (as far as I know) have not considered the possible consequences of the intense celebrity-like attention that they, time and again, provide the perpetrators of these horrific acts.

Would it not be more responsible to leave the likenesses and views of these actors in obscurity, denying them the publicity and notoriety that they apparently are seeking?

Don Kopp


Two articles concerning the Tucson shooting in your Jan. 11 issue illustrated the two different perspectives on responsibility in our culture. Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik’s comments communicated the concept of social responsibility, while columnist George Will isolated responsibility to the personal acts of a psychopath.

Will went on the attack himself, accusing Dupnik and others who spoke out against the violence of personal or political opportunism. Once again, the narcissists lay claim to persecution while the real victims are flat on their backs, literally clinging to life.

Yet Will’s denials are a predictable result of a philosophy that isolates responsibility to each individual while conveniently compartmentalizing guilt. Sheriff Dupnik’s examination of the relationship between violent speech and what it inevitably inspires in not only appropriate but necessary.

As a police officer, his direct observation of the consequences of violence have a unique credibility that a pundit weaving abstract arguments at a safe distance cannot approach.

Dupnik should be allowed as much opportunity to share his misgivings as Sarah Palin had to paste crosshairs over Gabrielle Giffords’ district.

John M. Flagler



When the president said in his Tucson speech that “we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations,” he rekindled a hope in me that has lain dormant for years.

That hope is that all of us – leaders and ordinary citizens alike – will put the interests of our children at the very center of our national agenda.

If we were to ask ourselves at every moment of great decision, “Is this good for our children?”, and if we challenged ourselves to justify to them that everything we did or tried to do was truly in their best interest, then we would be building a nation that was worthy of our children, that lived up to their expectations and that offered the likelihood of a bright future for generations to come.

Val Hart



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