As I skimmed through the Sports pages, my eye caught a column written by Steve Solloway titled “The warning is sounded: Just let the kids be kids” (April 7). I bypassed the box scores and headlines to read the story, which focused on what a child’s experience should be: Fun!

My mind flashed back to an image of my 11-month-old grandson, who has started to walk. I proudly recalled how quickly he achieved this life-changing experience. Could he soon bat cleanup for his T-ball team, make the travel AAU team or perhaps later earn a football scholarship to Notre Dame? Lord, what a future he has.

I looked back to my own experience playing Little League and realized I actually experienced some of Solloway’s story and with it a realization why kids just need to play.

It is like a scene out of the movie “Sandlot.” Most of my childhood was spent going to the neighborhood fields playing pickup games without adults present.

Once a week we played Little League, supervised by the Recreation Department but actually run by the kids. The umpires were high school kids, the manager a 12-year-old who made up the batting order, etc. Games were played mornings except for one game at night for parents to see.

We didn’t have countless expectations hoped for by parents, but merely enjoyed a childhood experience treasured by those who participated. These were kids who mimicked Sandy Koufax, Mickey Mantle or Yaz, and when the season ended we later searched for a gym to sneak into, a driveway to shovel off to shoot hoops or a pond to skate on.

Nobody had to tell us to put the Game Boy away!

Just let kids play, and hopefully we will let our kids create memories for themselves to cherish.

Jerry Thibeault


We can all take small steps to thwart global warming

Many of us are slow to realize the dangerous power of climate change. That’s one reason we are not taking enough action to protect our families. We need to cut back on burning coal, oil, gas and wood, starting now.

In the rural county where I grew up, local groups are still feeding more than 100 people who were displaced by floods last summer. Their homes were destroyed by a river that rose to levels never before seen. While we may not be sure that flood was due to climate change, it fits the pattern.

Droughts, floods, erratic lake ice and snow, and wild temperature changes are getting worse because of air pollution that we cause. It’s hurting people, our infrastructure and food sources.

Globally, the body count from climate change disasters has risen to 300,000 people a year, and millions have lost their livelihoods. This count will rise much higher in coming decades, but we have yet to react to the threat.

We have clean energy and more energy-efficient technology that we can put to use. Let’s support clean energy development and, if you can swing it, start those energy upgrades.

We should also stop giving away our money, and our democracy, to companies that are fueling the problem. A small step that we can all take is to tell Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to end billions in giveaways to big oil, coal and natural gas. Let’s take back some of our own power.

Ken Hotopp


Texan’s exoneration stirs thoughts of Dechaine case

It was heartening to read a Los Angeles Times story in the April 7 edition of the Press Herald announcing that another innocent person has been exonerated, although it came after he served many years of a 99-year sentence for a purse snatching that he did not commit.

Credit goes to Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins for having the fortitude to start a Conviction Integrity Unit to investigate wrongful convictions.

One of the reasons he cited for exonerating Darryl Washington was “evidence prosecutors failed to turn over to defense attorneys.” His patience had worn thin because “we have a responsibility, and that’s to seek justice.”

The president of the Innocence Project, which participated in finding the real perpetrators, said Watkins had set an example other prosecutors should follow.

Once again, there was “a faulty conviction … because of human error: faulty witness identifications, shoddy police work and prosecutorial misconduct.”

If Texas can do it, so can Maine. If Texas can put the time and resources into cases to ensure innocent people are not in prison, so can Maine.

Of course, the case of Dennis Dechaine comes to mind. He has been in prison almost a quarter of a century, even though there are many questions about the evidence, how the investigation was conducted and what the jury was told.

It’s time for Maine’s attorney general to have the same fortitude as shown by his colleagues in many other states who have put seeking justice and integrity above all other considerations.

Genie Nakell


Student success, teacher evaluations not connected

Education Commissioner Steven Bowen tells half the truth and only half the story (“Bill over evaluation of Maine teachers, principals approved,” April 7).

Concerning the teacher evaluation law just passed, Bowen said, “The research is clear that the effectiveness of teachers and education leaders is the most important school-based factor influencing student achievement and success.”

Unfortunately for Maine students, what he forgot to add is that there is absolutely zero data that has not been disproven and that shows any positive student achievement from teacher evaluations based on standardized test scores. Sadly, the majority of the Legislature swallowed this fallacy.

Tying teachers’ effectiveness to student test results does not improve student outcomes. If people are actually interested in taking the time to investigate this fallacy and the actual negative impact on students, I suggest they start with a very complete, but long, pair of articles written by the renowned educator Diane Ravitch, called “Schools We Can Envy.”

There are many beneficial ways to evaluate teachers and administrators that could improve student learning, but tying the evaluation to test scores is not one of them.

I sincerely hope the statewide committee responsible for creating guidelines on teacher evaluations takes the data and research into account.

John Soifer

South China