By Robert E. Macdonald
mayor of lewiston
A superior, or at least a fairly good school system, is essential in order to grow Lewiston into an economically prosperous community. People of means with the financial ability and the business savvy needed to uplift our city will look for a good school system for their children, a system in which their children are given the educational tools needed to obtain skills equal or better than their parents.
Decades ago Lewiston embraced a program called Model Cities. This well-intentioned program, designed by bureaucrats heavy into theory but lacking common sense, a key ingredient in the success of any program, lead Lewiston into the abyss of poverty and decay.
At the start of 1960s, you could eat off the floor or street in any neighborhood in the city. By the end of the ’60s you could not see the floor or street, as they were covered by dirt or trash. Model Cities spent millions of dollars to replace cleanliness with filth, a population rife with not only a philosophy of entitlement, but also no appreciation, nor need, for an education.
Now we are faced with a horrendous school budget. We are asked to provide additional funds for pre-K classes, more ELL (English Language Learner) teachers and additional staff to work with students in danger of not graduating. The question now becomes: is funding going to really improve our problems? I doubt it.
Instead of continuing ELL classes, perhaps it’s time to immerse our non-English-speaking population in English Language Classes. This suggestion was proposed to me by a lady with whom I chatted during a recent function. Upon taking up residence in Lewiston, non-English speakers would be required to attend classes (five days a week, six hours a day for two years) run by our school department, immersing them in English. Welfare benefits would be tied to their attendance; this would make them employable and hopefully bring up test scores in school.
Then we have the pre-K issue. I fully understand and strongly agree with the principles behind it. However, to make the program a success you need reinforcement at home, something that may be woefully lacking for the majority of the students registered. Without it (in my opinion), this accomplishes nothing, making pre-K no more than a babysitting service.
Then there is our graduation rate: 68 percent of Lewiston seniors graduate compared to a state average of 82 percent. Why?
Throwing limited taxpayer dollars at this problem is not the answer. Many of our failing students have been indoctrinated into European socialism, where government will always be there to help you.
Kudos to the many public-orientated Bates College students that participate in and run many after-school programs designed to help our at-risk students. Their passion, I would argue, results in providing us with a higher number of graduates than could be achieved without them. They provide a true assessment of the number of students who realistically understand the benefit and strive for graduation.
I believe a real discussion of the problem must be held to find out-of-the-box ways to motivate the failing 32 percent. I respect the superintendent and school committee members and appreciate the tough jobs with which they have been charged. As mayor, this low graduation rate becomes critical in selling economic development in our city. A new day has dawned in Lewiston, and I believe working together we can overcome our problems.
Lastly, as a fervent nationalist, conservative, capitalist, business-friendly Republican—a person that believes that success in America is achieved through hard work, not European socialism—I am livid and saddened by the upcoming deportation of Three One Café owner Mahamed Mahamud and his family. His story reflects a past America before Democratic Liberal President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, a time in which immigrants knew their labors could propel them to heights not possible in their native lands.
Today bureaucrats and their puppy-dog politicians crank out legislation that resembles thought borne of a hallucinogenic drug stupor rather than clarity. One has to wonder if Mahamed Mahamud had been a drug dealer, arrested for OUI after killing or maiming someone, or being here illegally trying to stay under the radar—would he have suffered the same fate?
Mamamed Mahamud and his family will survive. They have accepted their fate with a positive attitude. Hopefully when the pseudo-intellectuals born of the 1960s retire or die off, Mahamed Mahamud and his family will be able to return and partake in what true intellectuals created 230-plus years ago: a land where hard work leads to prosperity—The American Dream.