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The rule of law

In 1954, the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka ruled in a unanimous decision that the Constitution requires public schools to be desegregated. Many believed this ruling would be ignored in the south.

Courageous federal judges in the southern states enforced desegregation despite threats to themselves and members of their families. It mattered not whether they were appointed by a Republican president or personally believed in desegregation; they were enforcing the rule of law in accordance with their judicial oath.

This page of history seems to have been ignored by President Donald Trump and his legal advisors. The dismissal of spurious lawsuits contesting the presidential election by Republican appointed judges was not unexpected. The judges were applying the rule of law without regard to political affiliation or loyalty to the president.

All law students are taught that the rule of law is the cornerstone of our republic. Yet, two senators, a graduate of Harvard and Yale law schools, both having served as clerks to Supreme Court justices, have participated in attacking the legitimacy of the presidential election.

I used to be a Republican precinct captain in Illinois. I believe these two senators sacrificed the rule of law for greed and political ambition. I believe they violated the oath they took to support the Constitution and the rule of law when they became licensed attorneys, and I hope the voters of Texas and Missouri remember their treachery.

Julian E. Cannell


Changes in education

The crisis in education created by the pandemic, and experiences with remote and hybrid learning, is leading many organizations and thought leaders to focus on a few basic recommendations. First, that learning should be personalized, for if not, efforts to successfully reach a wider spectrum of children will continue to fall short.

Secondly, a competency-based framework is critical for ensuring that children learn basic academics, as well as civics and other skills needed to become productive, caring citizens. With those two essential approaches, plus the stronger social support networks being developed, schools and programs can choose different “flavors“ — such as place-based, themed, blended, work study, part-time enrichment programs, community based services, etc.

The next most critical action is to allow students, families and teachers to choose among options, because those choices create better engagement for learning. Hopefully, choice among programs within a school, not just among schools and districts, is sufficient for this dynamic to work its wonders. Experience shows that a high level of autonomy for different programs is essential to their ability to meet the needs of the students who choose to attend. This allows leaders to figure out how to educate a wide variety of children and to have consequences if they don’t. Assigned schools have many downsides, especially for minority groups because school district boundaries often reflect past prejudiced housing patterns.

To improve students’ life-chances, public education should respond more quickly and effectively to family needs and teachers’ innovative efforts.

Judith Jones

Board Chair

John Mullaney

Executive Director

Education Action Forum of Maine


We need solemn dialogue

I want to say upfront that the president inciting a mob to attack the Capitol was not a good idea! Some mighty lessons were learned. The Capitol Police can be inept, and even downright childish in their behavior. The politicians, under stress, ranged the gamut from surprisingly noble to unwilling to give up posturing. And it was, after some introspection, a stark contrast to police brutality at Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

Photos of rifled offices were jarring. And, of course, so was the Confederate flag in the rotunda. What was desecrated by the mob was not the physical building, nor the august members of Congress, who often talked about their important “work.” The word I’m searching for is “solemnity.” PBS, the network I watched, found members of the mob who seemed to merrily enjoy all the excitement.

President Donald Trump seems to enjoy his own maneuvering, especially with high stakes. And part of his game seems to be a disregard for everything truly serious. If people support him, they should ask who will carry on the government that we as citizens count on? It will not be his jeering, threatening mob.

As I said, storming the Capitol was not a great idea! The Capitol is needed because it is a place where solemn dialogue is valued, even if rarely achieved.

Robb Cook