Stuff about me
My name is Keith Michaud and this is “Letters From Away,” a blog written by a Mainer living outside the comfortable and sane confines of New England. The blog is intended for Mainers, whether they live in the Pine Tree State or beyond, and for anyone who has loved ’em, been baffled by ’em or both. Ayuh, I am “from away.” Worse still, I live on the Left Coast – in California. Enjoy! Or not. Your choice.
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Stuff people write
- Mainers to be thankful for | Portland Press Herald
- Farmers who gain from tax bill wary of losing subsidies later | Bangor Daily News
- Hiking a section of the Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail
- As Mainers endorse expanding MaineCare, feds back LePage methods to shrink it | Bangor Daily News
- Returning to my roots – the great outdoors
Tag Archives: Education and Schools
[I enjoy Ms. Murray’s wit – it’s a Maine wit. She does spend quite a bit of time of steering people away from island life, yet she’s been an island-dweller for more than 20 years. I think she’s just trying to keep a good – great – think to herself. – KM]
As a member of the Board of Directors of RSU #65, which means a school committee member on Matinicus Island for better and for worse, in sickness and in health, until Town Meeting does us part, and as a former island teacher myself, and a school bookkeeper, and the parent of two little island students in homemade sweaters, I feel like I know a thing or two about what an applicant for this job ought to think about.
The problem is we’re not supposed to talk about much of it.
When I made my way out here for my interview in May of 1987, the winds were fierce and the airplane flight was something like riding a buckboard over a dry-rutted ox track in the middle of the Oregon Trail. Teacher applicants, be advised: that ten-minute flight gets bumpy sometimes. If you’re afraid to fly or have a delicate stomach, you might think twice before you take this position. Oops, excuse me. I take that back. Only your professional qualifications warrant discussion.
My interview happened to fall on what I later found out was Subpoena Day, when most all the male residents of the island were wasting their time cooling their heels in Rockland, waiting to be called to testify in a case of some non-violent neglect of the rulebook. Many were not asked to speak, and came home generally aggrieved for the imposition. One of them was married to member of the school board.
Click on the link for the rest of this entry by Eva Murray in her “Sea Glass (and) Scrap Iron” on DownEast.com.
Despite increased revenues,
next year will still see reductions
AUGUSTA – Gov. John Baldacci proposed to alleviate some of the deepest cuts in the state budget Wednesday by providing additional funds to support human services and education.
A revised state revenue forecast that projects a $51 million increase in receipts this fiscal year and next, and additional federal money, combined to give the governor and the Legislature $78.7 million of breathing room.
“Despite today’s good news, we know that our economy is fragile and recovery is far from certain,” Baldacci said during a news conference in his office.
Baldacci continued to characterize state spending as frugal, saying the current two-year budget will be $5.6 billion – a modest increase from his first budget, seven years ago, that was $5.4 billion.
Even with the increased revenue, state lawmakers face a $360 million shortfall.
Click on the link for the rest of today’s story by Susan Cover in the Kennebec Journal.
I gathered a couple of Maine state budget stories from the Kennebec Journal, the newspaper in Augusta, Maine. Click on the headline or at the bottom of each tease and it should bring you to the Kennebec Journal website for the full story.
As always, please let me know about a bad link and I will do what I can to fix it.
BY MATT WICKENHEISER
Maine Sunday Telegram
As Gov. John Baldacci began his presentation Friday on closing a $438 million budget gap, he noted that the state is having such briefings “a little too often.”
Several times a year, for the last several years, Baldacci has had to lay out hard plans for Maine. State revenue has been in a free-fall as income tax, sales tax and other funding sources have dried up in the recession.
In the last year, the Legislature has worked to cut the budget again and again. In early January, it started with a budget gap of $166 million, then later that month got a two-year budget calling for another $200 million in cuts. In May, revenue shortfalls led to another $569 million gap.
BY SCOTT MONROE
AUGUSTA – Steve Hoad listened to Gov. John Baldacci announce plans on Friday for cuts and other adjustments that total $438 million.
The proposed cuts include a reduction of $67.8 million to the Department of Health and Human Services and the elimination of 6.5 positions.
BY MATTHEW STONE
AUGUSTA – For Maine’s school districts, universities and community colleges, the package of budget cuts Gov. John Baldacci announced Friday confirmed the grim news they’ve been bracing for throughout the fall.
The governor’s plan to plug a $438 million hole in the current two-year budget cuts $73.2 million in aid to local school districts and $15.9 million in funding to the state’s university and community college systems.
BY MEGHAN V. MALLOY
AUGUSTA – County jails and other correctional facilities could see more positions lost or unfilled next year if Gov. John Baldacci’s latest budget plan, which flat funds jails at $3.5 million, is adopted for the next fiscal year.
“I don’t know how many and where, but it would happen in (fiscal year 2011),” Kennebec County Administrator Robert Devlin said Friday. “If it looks like it’s looming, we’ll do what we did last time, which is not filling vacancies.”
Here’s today’s DownEast.com trivia question. Educators might find it interesting.
What is Maine’s only public charter school?
The Maine School of Math and Science in Limestone, established in 1995, was recently declared the twelfth best public high school in the United States.
I have always regretted not learning a second language. That has been especially true in the past decade or so as it became much clearer to me that knowing Spanish or another language besides English would have greatly enhanced my life and journalism career.
It is particularly ironic then that I had plenty of opportunity to learn French. I was born into a French-Acadian family where French was spoken at family gatherings far more often than English. A family story tells that the first words I spoke as a child were French. And I took several years of high school French, of which I retained little more than how to ask for the time – “Quelle heure est-il?”
Of course, I did not retain time references so I would not know if a French language speaker was giving me the time of day or giving me the business. Or both.
But as I grew older and school drew closer, English was the language spoken in the household. Unless, of course, my parents wanted to say something to each other that they did not want my sister or me comprehending.
Sadly for me, learning a second or third language at the time I was growing up was not nearly as high a priority as it must be now. Being bilingual or multilingual is essential today in order to compete on an international playing field, visit foreign lands or to converse with those who come to our shores for whatever reason – to build a better life for themselves and their families, escape persecution or whatever. The reasons are wide and varied, but they resemble the reasons this nation’s forefathers had for coming here.
There are far too many of us who conveniently forget that we are a nation of immigrants, immigrants who brought with them their language, culture, foods, songs and more. And it has made this nation – this mosaic tapestry made up of people and cultures from around the globe – what it is.
Yes, having some control of the border and what and who comes into the country is essential. But building a wall on our borders is not the answer. Separating parents from their children because of immigration issues is not the answer. There has to be a way to embrace varied people speaking varied languages and bringing with them varied and rich cultures.
The Portland (Maine) school district, the largest in the state with well more than 7,100 students, seems to embrace the children of refugee and immigrant families. According to a Portland Press Herald story today, the district has enrolled 1,864 multilingual students so far this year, up from 1,795 last year. About 1,600 of those students enrolled this year are learning to speak English, up from 1,474 last year. Some of the increase comes as Catholic Charities Maine has amped up its efforts to find homes in Maine for refugees.
These students and their families come from some of the toughest places on Earth right now, places I am guessing no Mainer would want to raise their children – Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of the Congo, among other places. Yes, things are tough here economically – sluggish or no growth, sluggish or no recovery, 16 million Americans unemployed. It is tough just now, there is no doubt about it.
But it is far, far more difficult to raise a child in Sudan or Somalia or Afghanistan to adulthood than it is in Portland or Lewiston or Bangor. It is far, far more difficult to feed a family, remain free of disease, thrive and live a long life in Iraq, Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of the Congo than it is in Saco, Augusta or Presque Isle. [I was in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, very briefly in 1994 during tribal upheaval in neighboring Rwanda and a mass movement of refugees across the border. That experience and another a month or so later visiting Haiti, the only Fourth World nation in the Western Hemisphere, leads me to believe that we must continue humanitarian aid to such nations when at all possible. And we must offer a safe haven for people who cannot survive in those nations. – KM]
It is vital to immerse the students in English language skills, find ways to keep their parents connected and involved with their children’s education, and include the students and their families as part of the mosaic that is this nation. While the Press Herald seemed to be lacking the voices of some of the stakeholders and critics, it seems the Portland school district is doing what it can to education and include these refugees and immigrants.