As a Maine educator, I am personally insulted and offended by Gov. LePage’s recent comments about public education in our state (“LePage’s criticism of Maine schools disappoints Maine principals,” Nov. 14).

Like many teachers, I had followed another career path before making the choice to dedicate my life of work to the children of Maine.

As a 20-something professional living out of state, I decided to return to Maine, complete a master’s program and work to improve the lives and learning of the students in my home state. That was 13 years ago. I wonder what message an aspiring teacher in my situation would receive from such comments by our own governor.

It seems to me that the governor should be using his position to encourage such young, vibrant, energetic professionals to return to Maine to invigorate our economy. If reform of our education system is to take place, it will start with our teachers, who care deeply about the quality of students’ learning.

Gov. LePage should stop insulting teachers and start leading. I welcome him to visit my classroom anytime to see the challenges we face and the success we foster.

I am not unique in this. I am constantly amazed and inspired by the creativity I see in our Maine teachers. Perhaps if Gov. LePage actually visited some Maine schools with an open mind, he would see some of the great learning that is occurring.

Kate Sheldon


Seniors face deadline soon to make Medicare changes

The election — and with it, the election season — has passed. Regardless of your political persuasion, you and people across Maine and the country can take a deep breath and go about your business.

One issue that was the subject of a great deal of political discussion was Medicare. It’s especially difficult when such talk comes during the important annual election period — the one time during the year when Medicare beneficiaries should be evaluating their coverage options.

For most seniors, it’s the only time of year they can make changes. Many plans make changes (even good changes!), so it is a good idea for seniors to review their options and explore alternatives.

But you only have until Dec. 7 to make a change. And, contrary to some of the fear tactics we heard, Medicare plans remain.

In fact, Jon Blum, acting deputy administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (the government agency that runs Medicare), recently said, “While you can’t predict everything in life, you can do your best to be prepared. Medicare will be there, stronger than ever, to help.”

Over the next couple weeks, I encourage seniors to explore resources that can help answer questions:

Visit to learn more about your different options, including Medicare Advantage plans. It can be a great tool and one right at your fingertips.

Talk to those you know who are already enrolled in Medicare. What were their lessons learned and what advice can they give when making these decisions?

Call or visit an Area Agency on Aging.

Making choices about Medicare can be challenging, and don’t feel like you have to do this alone! Just remember, you only have until Dec. 7.

Larry Henry

vice president of senior products, Martin’s Point Health Care


After Sandy, ease climate change by forgoing meat

Frankenstorm Sandy is one more dramatic demonstration that climate change and its extreme weather patterns are now part of our future.

Although we’re unlikely to reverse climate change, we can still mitigate its effects by reducing our driving, our energy use and our meat consumption.

Yes, meat consumption. A 2006 U.N. report estimated that meat cosumption accounts for 18 percent of manmade greenhouse gases. A 2009 article in the respected World Watch magazine suggested that it may be closer to 50 percent.

Carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, is emitted by burning forests to create animal pastures and by combustion of fossil fuels to confine, feed, transport and slaughter animals and to refrigerate their carcasses. The much more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are discharged from digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools, respectively.

We have the power of reducing the devastating effects of climate change every time we eat. Our local supermarket offers a rich variety of soy-based lunch “meats,” hot dogs, veggie burgers, soy and nut-based dairy products (including cheese and ice cream), and an ample selection of traditional vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts. Product lists, easy recipes and transition tips are available at

Paul Mahn


Backer of end to tax cuts draws on outdated credo

Patricia Pora, a Sister of Mercy, makes the argument that the credo of the most basic public programs should be to provide care for all who need it, regardless of ability to pay (Voice of the People, “Draw on nation’s resources to address nation’s needs,” Nov. 10). To this end, she says that tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 a year should expire at the end of the year.

Sister Pora’s position is, at bottom, a restatement of Karl Marx’s 1875 slogan: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!” The dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 is a testament to the lack of viability of that approach.

William Vaughan Jr.

Chebeague Island

Activists may have had right idea about Petraeus

Back in September 2007, the antiwar group ran an ad in The New York Times that referred to Gen. David Petraeus as “General Betray Us.”

Both the House and the Senate were quick to condemn the ad. They were indignant and demanded an apology.

In the light of recent events, maybe was on to something, and it’s Congress that should do the apologizing.

John P. Wirtz