Your March 19 obituary of the Scotia Prince, about to be scrapped in Sri Lanka, covered its life very well, except for the omission of an interesting chapter. In December 2002, it began a winter shuttle service between Tampa and Mexico, called the Yucatan Express.

It was a logical move, for there are many tourists in Maine in the summer and lots in warmer climes in the winter. However, because there weren’t enough passengers and one of its two Mexican harbors wasn’t deep enough, the owners ended the service three months after its start, losing $5 million.

It was fun while it lasted, a unique opportunity to circumnavigate the Gulf of Mexico. My wife and I drove to Florida, boarded with our Camry, briefly saw the west end of Cuba, enjoyed Mexico all the way up to Texas, and drove back to Maine.

A new Florida-Yucatan ferry is planned to start service this year, but because of the economy and concerns about the safety of non-Yucatan Mexico, many doubt that it will succeed or even start.

Dick Dreselly


‘Manufactured Crisis’ recommended reading

The perspective expressed in Doug Drew’s Maine Voices column (“Portland hasn’t fully considered the ramifications of a charter school,” March 19) gains support from a historical context described by Berliner and Biddle in 1995. The book is titled “The Manufactured Crisis,” subtitled “Myths, fraud, and the attack on America’s public schools.”

The authors examine what was presented in 1980 by the Reagan administration and his Secretary of Education as evidence in support of the failure of America’s schools. In essence, the title(s) of the book summarize the falsification, misrepresentation, omission and suppression of data which occurred.

There is too much to restate here but, among many things, the College Entrance Examination Board warns against the use of aggregate SAT data. The authors point out that disaggregated data indicates improvement in SAT scores. They also point out why this data and other data were intentionally misrepresenting the status of education in the United States.

They discuss in great detail not only the data but also the “reform” movements stemming from this manufactured crisis. Among the offers were vouchers and charter schools, two reforms currently being aggressively marketed.

Again, the analyses in the book clearly show that, among other erroneous educational claims, vouchers and charter schools shift financial benefit to the wealthy without educational benefit to those targeted by the reforms.

Doug Drew urges Dr. Katherine K. Merseth to read “Pathways to Prosperity,” and I urge her and others to add “The Manufactured Crisis” to their reading list. Our state educational systems are not failing but are being failed by false offers of hope and improvement based on false representation of data which was generated in the ’80s. Big lies die hard!

Mark Schwartz, Ph.D.

South Portland

Locate new funding source for public broadcasting

If Gov. LePage means to cut off state funding for the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, he might first consider locating alternative resources to maintain their budget, aiming for a round number of $2 million.

There are professional fundraising counseling services that can help locate a couple of million-dollar patrons among the 1 percent who are poised to help nonprofits via the IRS tax deductions they will receive.

They are going to donate it somewhere in order to lower their taxable income, so why not to MPBN? They are more likely to succeed than the small nonprofit that I helped to start initially called Classical Voice of New England, now dba Performing Arts of New England.

They need only a petite fraction of a million dollars to perform their mission. The large donation would net the patrons more publicity.

Mary Elizabeth Nordstrom


Why be forced to choose either caucus or primary?

Regardless of the sponsor’s motives in introducing a bill to change Maine from a “caucus” state back to a “primary” state, it’s an excellent time for Mainers to reconsider the way we choose our candidates.

But why must our choices be limited to: A) a system in which a tiny number of dedicated stalwarts brave the weather to split their votes among a flock of wannabees; or B) a system in which a somewhat larger number of dedicated stalwarts brave the weather to split their votes among a flock of wannabees?

Instead, why not boldly go where our state motto directs us? Why not scrap the caucuses, scrap the primaries, and have all candidates run in a “selection election” in, say, the first week of September?

The two highest vote-getters would then face off in the general election in November. This would almost always result in a final race between a Democrat and a Republican anyway. But more importantly, members of all parties would realize from the get-go that they need to speak to larger, not smaller, issues; and they need to articulate ideas and strategies which will build constituencies, not splinter them.

Maine has been fortunate to have been represented by “aisle-crossers” such as Margaret Chase Smith, Ed Muskie, Bill Cohen, George Mitchell and our current two senators.

However, I fear the continuation of politics as usual — with most future funding supplied by mysterious millionaires — will make these exemplary public servants museum pieces rather than the models of civic action that they deserve to be.

We should use the current opportunity to reinvigorate the notion of “as Maine goes,” and not allow Olympia Snowe to be just another example of “as Maine went.”

Larry Glatz