Wait on Supreme Court nomination
Republicans must agree to wait until after the November election and swearing in of the new Senate to consider Justice Anthony Kennedy’s replacement on the U.S. Supreme Court. It is only just and fair in light of the Senate Republican’s refusal in 2016 to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court because an election was 10 months away. This election is only four months away. Therefore, to do anything else but wait until after the newly elected Senate is sworn in, would be morally corrupt — as if one set of rules applies to Republicans and another set to Democrats.
Republicans must insist that the same standard of waiting until after the newly elected senators are seated be applied to this opening on the Supreme Court. If Republican senators do not agree to wait, they will be parties to the moral decay of this country by teaching our youth it is OK to discard the rules so you can win. We will wait to see who in the Senate has the moral courage to put forward this idea of a fair procedural standard.
Return control to schools
Thank you to the Bangor Daily News for the recent editorial on LD 1666, which the Legislature just passed to make proficiency-based diplomas an option for Maine schools, rather than a mandate. This would allow Maine schools a little more local control, rather than having to serve another unwieldy state mandate. Districts could possibly prioritize their own agenda according to their local resources and needs, without having to dedicate all professional development and administrative time to this one topic.
The editorial expressed concern that without this mandate some schools would have higher expectations than others. Rest assured that changing this graduation requirement will not remove the Maine Learning Results or the other standards-based reforms passed over the last 20 years by the Legislature. Local systems can and should be trusted to use the standards that are in place to guide their practice, to appropriately challenge their students and to instill values that will serve them well in the workplace.
Mandating more and more sets of standards — such as adding the Common Core or adopting the NextGen standards — has become an expensive administrative game of standards chasing that does not serve our students. Likewise, if equal access to consistently high standards is a concern, then urge the Legislature and the governor to fund a quality education for all Maine students.
As a 25-year veteran teacher, I am eager to stop teaching the standards, in order to get back to teaching my students.
Gag rule bad medicine
If implemented, the new rule proposed by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department concerning Title X funding would prohibit any clinic or medical facility that counsels about or refers patients for abortions from obtaining Title X funds. As a result, millions of low-income women and men would be deprived of reproductive health care.
As a member of the medical community, I am outraged. After years of medical study so that we physicians can provide the best health care we know how, the threat that the government will interfere in the cherished doctor-patient relationship is frightening. The law of the land supports safe and legal abortion.
If safe abortions are not available, desperate women will seek abortions from untrained practitioners. In the 1960s, prior to Roe v. Wade, I was a medical student, and I will never forget the “septic” abortion ward in a local hospital. Wards were different from the way they are now. The ward was a wide-open room with beds lined from one end to the other. As a colleague of mine, Dr. David Bingham, wrote “when we made rounds, there was a whole ward full of [septic abortion] patients with varying degrees of infection and hemorrhage, complications from quacks, beatings, poisonings, and potions. Most of these patients would be left sterile, some would not survive, and all survivors would be traumatized.”
Not only physicians, but all citizens need to contact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to oppose the “gag rule” and to demand that the government not interfere with the right to obtain optimal medical care, with the right to privacy and with the doctor-patient relationship.
Norma Dreyfus, M.D.
Don’t split the vote
I am writing in response to the letter writer who says “I am not looking for fair anymore” and seems to conflate the roles of activism and legislation in efforts to “stop the Trump terrorism.” I hear you, but please don’t go there.
Play smart, savvy, tough, tenacious. Know the rules, and play them to your advantage. And always play fair. Without fairness, how can we have justice? If we want justice for all, then we are obliged to be fair to all.
There are different ways to stop the Republican extremism that President Donald Trump personifies. We need to participate in as many as we can. Yes, it can be necessary to publicly take a stand and admirable to “put yourself on the line.” But grand gestures in the face of a rising tide of American fascism may be easier than the daily slog of advocating legislation in the face of the Mitch McConnells, Paul Ryans and Paul LePages.
We need to work tirelessly and we need to work together. Splitting the progressive vote, however attractive the candidate and how tempting the prospect, looks to me like the wrong choice.
So many people tell me, “I have to vote for the candidate who really represents who I am and the world I want.” But if we want better government, then we need to elect reasonable and fair-minded politicians who can reasonably be expected to win.
“Vote your conscience” is a siren song that has consistently shipwrecked our best hopes for electing more progressive candidates and effecting more progressive legislation. We in Maine may know that better than most. Or do we?