Preparing Maine’s future workforce

During my career, I’ve been an educator and a businessman who focused on workforce development for one of Maine’s largest companies. I feel the need to weigh in on the issue of proficiency-based education — an issue that’s extremely important to me.

Proficiency-based learning not only enhances education experiences for students, but it can improve their future success. In turn, it can also strengthen Maine’s workforce and economy.

It’s no secret that Maine employers often struggle to find workers with the skills businesses need to grow, compete and succeed. And the jobs of the future are going to require greater skills and credentials, with many requiring a college degree or more. Maine’s business community understands that, to meet the demands of our economy today and tomorrow, we have to develop workers who can compete and thrive in the modern workforce.

Preparing this workforce starts early, and it means teaching students more than the basics. We need to cultivate solid work habits among our future workers, along with skills like strong communication, critical thinking and problem-solving. And because not all kids learn the same way, it also means making sure each student has a pathway to success without getting left behind. This is what proficiency-based learning does and why I’m so excited about it.

Adapting to new learning methods and standards is challenging for schools and teachers, as well as parents and students. But we cannot reverse course on proficiency-based learning, a model that holds great promise for the future of Maine’s economy.

Steven Pound


No corporate welfare

With regard to making a decision as to whether the state of Maine or the taxpayers should agree to enlarge the wealth of an already wealthy defense contractor, we need to look at the big picture.

This is not 1997, when General Dynamics bought Bath Iron Works and was a much smaller company. It was then arguably sensible for us to help out BIW upgrade its facilities. Today, it is a totally different situation.

General Dynamics is a behemoth defense contractor, earning more than $3 billion in profits. They also happen to be in an industry that has little oversight and congressional support to increase its money supply led by a White House in chaos and requesting even greater defense spending.

So the real issue for all of us is that we have a disturbed man as our president and inhabit a country that is both envied and hated at the same time. We have military bases in almost every region of the world and basically do as we please, never considering the eventual blowback.

There are individuals everywhere that wish us harm and are attempting to do us harm. We need to come together as a country and discuss how we might deal with this and spend less of our wealth on weapons so as to engender less hate and create a more peaceful world.

We are at a point where we need to cut back our subsidies to the war machine and these requested General Dynamic millions are a great place to start.

Paul J. Schelble


Don’t eliminate harvest break

Since I was 12, I have worked in a potato house for four weeks out of my school year. I am the oldest grandchild of 33 who make up the sixth generation of our family farm. In 1886, my great-great-great-grandfather started with less than 65 acres of potatoes in Mars Hill. Today, our family farms more than 8,000 acres from western to northern Maine.

By working on my family’s farm, I have gained a work ethic at a young age, which is beneficial when it comes time to get a job. As soon as business owners sees you have worked a harvest in The County, they know how hard you can work.

The SAD 1 school board voted to eliminate the harvest break from their school system. Their reports say that 14 percent of their 538 students participated in harvest on a local farm. But an additional 43 percent of students participated in work during the harvest break either on the school farm or in nonfarming jobs. This is showing that over half of SAD 1’s student body is participating in some kind of work during this three-week break.

Why would a school system take away help from an industry that is helping Maine’s economy? Not only is this affecting SAD 1 but also surrounding school systems. Other schools in Aroostook County will eliminate the harvest break as well.

As a recent graduate of high school, I see the life lessons and impact that harvest break has had on my life.

Dayna McCrum

Mars Hill

Hills for House District 97

I met Caitlin Hills four years ago, when she and I served on the RSU 71 board of directors. Through the first three years, Hills served as vice chair, and since July 1, chair.

She is passionate about her beliefs and she will fight for what best creates opportunities for our children. We have seen this through her support of a new curriculum coordinator’s position in our district that has helped strengthen academic programming. I have seen this through her work in the community to reduce our carbon footprint and to be a little kinder to the planet and all those who live on it.

Prior to moving to Maine, Hills worked for Sen. Bob Graham, D-Florida, advising him on environmental, immigration, and energy issues. She was then a lobbyist for nonprofits that sought to protect those who needed it most. This is experience that would serve her constituency well in Augusta.

In Hills, we would be voting for someone who has built her life here, and her son’s, because she admires all that is good in Maine. She is not looking to make our special part of Maine something other than what it is, but to strengthen it and to fight for opportunities. She is not afraid of hard work, and is willing to work for the residents of House District 97.

I like fighters, and Hills is a proven fighter. I encourage you to support her on June 12 at the polls.

Allison Goscinski