High per-pupil costs

The BDN’s Sept. 6-7 editorial, “Fewer Students, Districts,” needs some more information given the huge, and outlandish cost of per-pupil education in Maine’s public schools these days. Researching the NEA.org Web site I combined some data with the BDN’s report (salary data is only from the years 2005-2006).

The BDN reported that the annual per-pupil cost to educate an Alaskan child is $11,253, the average teacher’s salary there in ’05-’06 was $53,553. In Maine, the annual per-pupil cost is $11,285 and the average teacher salary was $40,737. In Florida, the annual per-pupil cost is $6,075, annual teacher salary was $43,302 and in Delaware where the annual per-pupil cost is much lower than Maine’s at $8,151, the average teacher salary was a whopping $54,553!

What is going on? High teacher salaries in Maine certainly shouldn’t be held as the reason for the huge per-pupil cost here. If not, what can we blame? I think cold weather states like Maine and Alaska are paying huge energy costs and that should be curtailed. Limited use of school buildings and busing during severe cold weather and windmills on school property would go a long way to help. Tradition will bankrupt us all here in Maine if do not start paying attention.

Peter J. Lucas


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McCain’s trade

McCain’s acceptance speech featured attacks on Obama, a film clip of terrorist attacks (the usual scare card), and his oft told story of his years as a prisoner in Hanoi. He made no mention of the myriad problems facing our country.

McCain has traded his maverick soul to the political devil and will continue with the same Bush agenda if elected. He spoke as if another party has been running our country by his party.

McCain lost his maverick title when he voted for the Iraq war and reversed his stand on oil well drilling and tax breaks for big business and the wealthy. Being a war hero doesn’t make him better qualified to run or protect our country. Eisenhower, a five star war hero, is prime example of a weak president.

McCain has a militaristic approach to solving problems. He is impulsive, moved easily to anger and has health problems. A maverick doesn’t vote for 90 percent of Bush’s proposals and then run on a “Change is Coming” platform. I hope Americans are smart enough to finally see through the Republican smoke screen.

Charles Mays


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Excellent reporting

Congratulations to the Bangor Daily News for publishing the recent articles regarding the murder of Joyce McLain of East Millinocket. Nick Sambides Jr. did an excellent job of reporting the information contained in these articles.

I was a resident of East Millinocket from 1955 to 1997. Before Joyce’s murder in 1980, this small community was a warm, friendly town in which to live. Even now it is difficult to believe this horrific act occurred there.

Pam McLain is small in stature but her strength, determination and endurance have proven to be amazing during the past 28 years.

Dawn I. Roundy


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Thanks, Sen. Collins

As a nurse practitioner and nursing educator, I want to publicly offer my gratitude and admiration to Sen. Susan Collins for her ongoing support and advocacy of nursing and health care in her two terms as U.S. Senator. These efforts were recently acknowledged when she was honored and presented the “Legislator of the Year Award” by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners for her efforts on behalf of Maine nurses and their patients.

Her recent sponsorship of the Home Health Planning Improvement Act and leadership recruiting bipartisan support for the bill were instrumental to its passage. This important legislation will literally open the door to improved access to home health care for Maine residents by authorizing Medicare re-imbursement for these services when ordered by advanced practice nurses or physician assistants. These highly qualified and competent providers are an integral part of primary health care, and particularly valuable in ensuring access to health care in rural states such as Maine.

I can speak firsthand to Sen. Collins’ work ethic, accessibility and having an open and receptive ear to Mainers and their concerns. As important as those qualities are, Sen. Collins has the bipartisan respect of her colleagues in Washington, which will serve Maine and our nation well as our government re-emerges in January 2009 to take on some of the most pressing issues in its history. Politics aside, we need Sen. Collins in Washington, continuing the impressive work for which she has become well-known and well-respected.

Barbara S. Higgins


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Palin has strong values

It would seem that Sen. John McCain has created a storm that might become stronger than any of the season’s hurricanes, since he chose Gov. Sarah Palin to be his running mate — kudos for such intestinal fortitude.

Sen. McCain was not my first choice, but he meets my first criterion of being pro-life. I have not been a proponent of a woman in the White House, but this lady’s humble, clear governing of her state and her strong moral- and family-first values have convinced me to vote for them wholeheartedly as the best team to continue protecting the lives of our babies before birth and after.

Anne Kilkenny of Wasilla, Alaska, has circulated her negatives about Sarah Palin via e-mail. My suspicion is that strong encouragement came from the left, but I also wonder if she had been a loser in the beauty pageant that Sarah won in the 1980s.

American voters should beware of the major darkening of America if the liberal team is elected. Be aware of America’s continuing to be a beacon of light when the McCain-Palin team is elected, providing real hope and change.

Sharon I. Rideout


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Testing Palin, Biden

As a teacher for many years, I turn to objective comparisons when making a difficult choice. I therefore propose that Sarah Palin and Joe Biden take a short quiz without prior instruction and share the results with the American voters.

Using a blank world map, I would ask them to label as many countries as possible in a defined time period, and to identify the language and religion of each labeled country.

Then, I’d ask them to write (and for extra credit, pronounce) the name of the current political leaders of those nations. Here they may accept help from George W. Bush.

I’d also ask the candidates to provide a brief statement of current and/or recent U.S. diplomatic relations with those nations. And I’d ask what foreign languages Palin and Biden can read and/or speak.

Margaret A. Bailey