After the recent news (“Sign-ups for first Portland charter school falling short,” April 25), the message should be clear by now to the Maine Charter School Commission: Parents have pulled out of Baxter Academy in large numbers.

The coup led by the remaining five members of the board of directors has fallen short. The disingenuous public relations campaign to have parents believe the school has a waiting list, as recently stated on their website, is frankly appalling.

Parents are rightfully skeptical of the Baxter board and remain unimpressed by their leadership. Many parents clearly doubt the ability of this group to deliver a quality education. At this point, what parent would take such a risk with as an important a decision as their child’s high school education?

Shame on the Charter School Commission for continuing to bend over backward to accommodate Baxter with such low enrollment numbers.

As a point of clarification, when Baxter Academy previously submitted a 100-student budget, it was for a single grade on a single floor of the building. That proposal was then rejected by the Charter School Commission: The cost of rent and busing made it unworkable.

Maine expects better oversight from the Charter School Commission. Maine students deserve quality schools with a high likelihood for success. The Charter School Commission should revoke the Baxter Academy charter and move on.

Chris Jones


Immigration reform would help Maine asylum seekers

When I read about comprehensive immigration reform in the paper, it sounds like it is all about something that matters only outside Maine, but  a lot of the proposed changes would make a big difference in our state.

One important change would repeal the “one-year bar” on asylum seekers.  

Currently, immigrants cannot apply for asylum if they submit their applications more than one year after arriving in the United States.

This “one-year bar” has prevented tens of thousands of asylum seekers who would otherwise be eligible from obtaining asylum status. You may wonder why and how this happens.

Immigration regulations are complicated, and help is limited. This is a challenge for people with limited or no English.

A missed deadline results in automatic denial or deportation.  

The artificial deadlines and complicated process lead immigrants to take desperate measures sometimes.

Here in Portland, a refugee from Somalia lost his life after a fire broke out in his apartment.

When they all got out from the building, the man asked his wife if she got the immigration documents from the building.  

When she answered no, he rushed back into the burning building and lost his life for an I-94 document.

Our immigration system is difficult and creates fear in the immigrant communities.

For some of us who come from countries where there is war or famine, legalization is a matter of life or death.

I support comprehensive immigration reform and the difference it can make for people right here in Maine.

Mohamud Barre

executive director, Somali Culture and Development Association


Atheists also face exclusion under Boy Scouts’ policy

Regarding your editorial of April 21, “Our View: Scouts’ plan on gays will perpetuate bias,” I suggest that their policy regarding atheists and agnostics is equally biased. Blind faith is hardly consistent with the rational planning and skills that are taught in Scouting.

I was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout prior to developing skepticism in my late teens. When I considered volunteering in my 20s, I was deterred by the oath that had to be signed. Boys lose; who gains?

Steven B. Kurtz


Trial of abortion doctor deserves media attention

I have a very simple question: Where can I find coverage in your paper regarding the trial of Kermit Gosnell, the Pennsylvania abortionist accused of killing babies by cutting their spine?

Allan Amoling


If trouble erupts, good guys at risk in ‘gun-free zones’

I commend Gregory Woolley (Letters to the editor, “NRA gets an F on guns-in-schools plan,” April 12) for his brave reactions during the shooting in the bar, as he described in his letter. He is a brave man, and many are thankful for this. I salute him.

He asked why no one stepped up to aid him and shot the attacker. This is a valid question, and the answer is straightforward. The other patrons were obeying the law and did not have their guns with them, as it is against the law to have your gun where alcohol is served.

So this is another striking example of how safe “gun-free zones” are.

The good guys obeyed the law and left their guns “outside” while the bad guy came in and shot the place up. Bad guys do not care about the law, and no law you pass will make any difference to them. Simple truth.

So when trouble starts, who do we call? We call the guys with the guns, the police! But the police are just minutes away when seconds count, be it in the bar, in a school or anywhere.

Again, I thank Mr. Woolley for responding in seconds. Well done.

Richard Prince

South Portland

Accountability called for after fertilizer plant deaths

Two young, apparently Islamic terrorists allegedly bomb the Boston Marathon and go on a crime spree. Total casualties: four dead and more than 170 injured.

An undetermined number of free-market capitalists apparently allowed maintenance at a dangerous fertilizer plant in West, Texas, to be lax, possibly cutting corners to make more almighty bucks. Total casualties: 14 dead and 200 injured.

We will undoubtedly and appropriately try to convict a 19-year-old in connection with the first crime. What will we do about the second?

Pamela B. Blake