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Archive for May 2011

OP/ED: Will iPads boost student achievement?

By Tracey Levesque

and Stella Gammaitoni

Auburn Citizens for Responsible Education

Is Auburn in the middle of an educational crisis? According to one Auburn School Committee member: “We are failing already.” (Thomas Kendall, school committee member, April 27, 2011).

Mr. Kendall believes the “educational system is flawed” and Auburn is using the “failure model.” In fact, he agrees that our educational system was not successful 30 years ago—possibly even further back than that.

While we respect him for admitting that our system is not producing solid results, we wonder why major changes have not been made earlier? Will iPads, the newest fad hoping to boost academic results, actually produce any noticeable improvements?

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LETTER: Broadside blasts the Maine Education Association

To the Editor:

A well-known Maine politician let loose with one of his famous broadsides the other day. Blasting the Maine Democratic Party as the tool of special interests, singling out the Maine Education Association (MEA) as one of the principal villains. He said that all the MEA wants to talk about is raising taxes, protecting the union’s first-class health plan, easing working conditions, paying higher teacher salaries (regardless of competence and performance) and creating a tax exemption for retired teachers. He claims they show no interest in students.

He pointed out that Maine is one of the few states that don’t allow charter schools, and he blamed the MEA and the Democrats for preventing Maine from competing for a share of the hundreds of millions of dollars in the federal “Race to the Top” education reform program.

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Mayor’s Corner: Updates that support Mayor’s writings

By Laurent F. Gilbert Sr.

Mayor of Lewiston

As an amateur columnist—I do this for no pay because I am by no means a professional in the field—I have an opportunity to express myself and advocate for positions that I feel strongly about. These positions can at times be controversial.

I am thankful to Laurie A Steele, publisher of Twin City TIMES, and her husband Editor-in-Chief Peter A. Steele for providing me the opportunity to express my views through this column on a weekly basis. I take positions that quite often are opposite those expressed by the editor. He at times gets criticized for allowing me to do this. Well, that is what democracy is all about.

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LYAC hosts MOTIVATE ME celebration

LYAC member Fatuma Mohamed with LYAC Co-Advisor Maggie Chisholm

By Dottie Perham-Whittier

Youth encouraging youth was the theme at the MOTIVATE ME standing-room-only event hosted by the Lewiston Youth Advisory Council and the Lewiston Firefighters Association.

LYAC received 480 responses from seventh and eighth graders in Lewiston Middle School and St. Dom’s Academy to the question: “What motivates you to do well in school?” The 29 stand-outs were recognized on May 11 in the Lewiston Council Chambers.

Lewiston Mayor Laurent F. Gilbert Sr. kicked off the evening. “The question LYAC asked provided a wonderful opportunity for the students to really think about what matters to them and what they want their future to be like,” he said. “I also commend LYAC for taking the time to focus on younger students’ aspirations and to serve as role models to them.”

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Throwing money at technology won’t improve education

Auburn Citizens for Responsible Education

By Carlo J. Gammaitoni M.D.

Auburn Citizens for Responsible Education was formed because of frustration regarding our children’s education and lack of demonstrable achievement, particularly at the middle school and high school levels.

While clearly realizing that technology must play a role in our children’s education, we believe the iPad program represents a symptom of a much larger problem. This problem is the flawed thought process that throwing more money at a problem will actually solve the problem.

Allocating more money, either nationally or locally, is not the education panacea that many citizens believe it to be. The data from the past three decades with regard to education clearly shows otherwise.

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Republicans strive to make health insurance affordable

Perspective

By State Sens. Rodney Whittemore

and Lois Snowe-Mello

Maine has some of the most expensive health insurance rates in the country, despite having health care costs that are in line with other states.

For decades, the practical effect of Maine’s legislative approach to health insurance policy has been to make private insurance unavailable and unaffordable.

Currently, 133,000 people in Maine are without health insurance. Maine Republicans pledged last November to bring common-sense solutions to Augusta. That includes market-based health insurance solutions that ensure that everyone has access to health insurance that is more affordable.

Insurance is designed to protect all of us from catastrophic risk by spreading it over a broad population. It is only affordable if the pool of premium payers includes younger, healthier adults to offset those with high health care costs.

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Lewiston-Auburn Economic Achievement Award winners

The Cities of Lewiston and Auburn are proud to announce this year’s Economic Achievement Award winners. The Economic Achievement Awards are selected by respective committees and are presented to seven nominees with one selection being a joint award from the Twin Cities.

The awards are presented each year to L-A organizations or individuals that stand out in their commitment to invest in the community and/or create jobs.

The City of Lewiston is pleased to announce this year’s winners include Baxter Brewing Company, Compounding Solutions and Rancourt & Company.

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LETTER: Governor, treasurer deserve credit for tackling debt

To the Editor:

State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin told members during a recent meeting of the Androscoggin County Conservative Coalition that too much debt severely limits Maine’s options for providing services to its citizens. Poliquin has been on a one-man crusade to educate Maine residents about the staggering amount of debt the State of Maine owes, and he has been working with Governor Paul LePage to address how that debt can be paid.

The actions—or the inaction—of Maine’s political leaders over the past 20-plus years is inexcusable; in fact, if a private sector company dealt with its employees as Maine has, the owner and board of directors would be facing serious legal charges. The unfunded liability owed to Maine teachers and state employees has been calculated at $4.3 billion, representing over two decades of neglect by past Maine political leaders.

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Mayor’s Corner: Maine doesn’t need Arizona-style immigration law

By Laurent F. Gilbert Sr.

Mayor of Lewiston

Rep. Kathleen Chase, the sponsor of LD 1496, “An Act to Enforce Immigration Laws and Restrict Benefits to Legal Citizens,” suggested on Tuesday that the bill be withdrawn or that the Joint Committee on the Judiciary should vote that it ought not to pass. The committee voted unanimously “ought not to pass,” which in effect kills the bill.

Chase said the bill as written didn’t do what she intended. I wish to thank Representative Chase publicly for being open to dialogue and, upon more understanding as to the effects of her bill, her choice to withdraw it. Below is testimony that I had prepared for the proposed bill.

The proposed bill, LD 1496, sponsored by Rep. Kathleen D. Chase (R-Wells) and co-sponsored by five Republican and two Democratic House members and two Republican Senators, is summarized as follows:

“This bill requires a law enforcement officer who legally detains a person for a suspected criminal or civil violation to require that person to provide proof of citizenship in addition to name, address and date of birth. If a law enforcement officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person is an illegal alien, the officer must attempt to determine the immigration status of the person.

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Parents from to protest iPad program

By Tracey Levesque

and Stella Gammaitoni

Founders of Auburn Citizens for Responsible Education

If you live in Auburn, then you know that there have been some hot topics circulating about the school budget and iPad initiative. Our school budget is in disarray, and our students are failing at alarming rates.

On April 6, the school committee revealed the Apple iPad initiative for kindergartners, which is slated to start in the fall. This is part of a program called “Advantage 2014.” Their goal is to improve literacy and math proficiency from 63% and 60% respectively to 90% by 2014. Our question is why was there no open discussion to the public?

Why was a decision made so hastily without even the Auburn City Council’s knowledge? Where is the research? All of these questions deserve answers. We, as parents and residents, decided to research, question and form the group “Auburn Citizens for Responsible Education.” We did this so we could inform the public on our findings.

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