The Falmouth school budget, on the June 14 ballot, contains funding for an all-day kindergarten, and is supported by some of the kindergarten teachers, some of the parents, the so-called child-education “experts” and the Falmouth School Board.

They say it will: 1) prepare the kids better for the first grade, although exactly how is not clear; and 2) many other public school systems in the state are doing it.

That’s it. Those are the justifications.

But what about the kids? When do they get to be children? When do they get to socialize with their chosen friends, or use their own imaginations, or enjoy free play?

The “experts” know that much childhood learning happens during unstructured play. While young kids need constant supervision, they don’t need, or want, constant adult interference in their activities.

And does anyone seriously think that a 5-year-old, returning from all-day kindergarten, won’t be too tired to do anything but watch TV after school?

The all-day kindergarten recalls another misguided approach from about 50 years ago.

Then, many busy parents set aside “quality time” to spend with their kids, when they weren’t distracted by their jobs or other adult problems. Unfortunately, the kids didn’t like operating on adult schedules, and the “quality-time” idea didn’t work very well.

This initiative seems aimed more at the convenience of adults than the well-being of the children. School enrollment has been declining in Falmouth for the past few years, and an all-day kindergarten seems to be a make-work alternative to staff reductions.

It would also make available a relatively low-cost baby-sitting service for working parents.

We need to vote against the budget until this item is removed.

Paul S. Bachorik


Fight over steering wheel will put economy over cliff 

I have some thoughts concerning the impending showdown over raising the national debt limit.

Forgive me for not being an artist. I will instead try to paint a picture with words:

A bus is careening down the road with a load of terrified passengers (aka the voters).

President Obama, the bus driver, is fighting to hold on to the steering wheel while an equally determined House Speaker John Boehner is wrestling with it.

Barack (aka the Osama Slayer), with a look of horror on his face, says: “John, for heaven’s sake, there is a cliff directly ahead!”

John (aka the Grim Weeper), with a look of steely determination, says: “Barack, how many times do I have to tell you that until we both throw away our credit cards, we are going over!”

George Howitt


GOP continues to rob the poor to help the rich 

The Maine Republican Party’s proposed budget, if enacted, would result in a broken promise to retired teachers, and a dishonorable act.

After all, teachers did not cause the unfunded liability in the retirement fund. This problem was caused, in large part by a raid on the retirement fund by a former Republican governor.

We should not be surprised, however, by the state Republican Party’s attitude toward retired teachers. It is very similar to the federal Republican Party’s policy toward military personnel; that is, we love and support you while you are active soldiers, but when you become a veteran, the message is we can’t support you any longer because you are a drag on our budget.

The state Republican Party’s proposed budget, with its cuts to retired teachers and state workers, is not a savings to Maine taxpayers.

It is simply a transfer of wealth to the richest of Maine’s citizens through the increase of the tax exemption on the inheritance tax.

History has shown us that you can depend on the Republican Party to take from the average working American and give to the most wealthy among us.

David Driscoll


Turning LURC’s job over to counties highly unwise 

L.D. 17 would abolish the Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) and transfer all land use authority in Maine’s North Woods to the counties in which the land lies, effective July 15, 2012.

I am opposed to L.D. 17 because relinquishing the management of our North Woods to ill-prepared county governments is akin to allowing a “talent show” presented by neighbor kids to be regarded as a reasonable substitute for a professional performance. In the case of LD 17, the stakes are exceptionally high, because if enacted, the abolishment of LURC would:

1) Be more expensive for state government in the short run due to significant costs in transferring records and attempting to transfer institutional knowledge.

2) Be more expensive for taxpayers in the long run by requiring division of LURC’s service into eight separate county government operations.

3) Increase complexity for major landowners and developers, given that different counties would establish differing implementation and enforcement standards.

4) Decrease protection of natural, recreational and economic values, since some counties could adopt standards that are less protective than those currently in place.

5) Eliminate the voice of Mainers statewide who all have a stake in determining the future of the “unorganized territories,” with natural, recreational and economic values of statewide significance.

6) And reduce expertise available for wise decision-making. County governments are less likely to provide staffing with the professional capabilities currently available at LURC.

It would be easy to turn Maine’s North Woods into the next New Jersey.

In contrast, it takes expertise and focus to build the economic vitality of the North Woods while expanding its natural and recreational values.

Abolishing LURC and replacing it with county government “oversight” would lead Maine in a short-sighted and tragic direction.

Lois Winter