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Forum, Jan. 29: Donovan Rightly Questions Vermont Prison Plan


Monday, January 29, 2018
Questioning Vermont Prison Plan

On many counts, Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan rightly questions the benefit of a large new prison in Vermont (“If You Build a Prison, You’ve Got to Fill It,” Jan. 23).

I was struck by how many of his concerns echo points raised in the 2017 film It’s Criminal: A Tale of Bridging the Divide by Norwich filmmaker Signe Taylor. The film documents collaboration between Dartmouth students and incarcerated women. In addition to raising our awareness of social inequities, it makes a compelling case for productive prison programs such as job training, addiction treatment, housing assistance, bail reform and experiential learning.

To quote co-producer professor Ivy Schweitzer, the goal should be “rehabilitation, not punishment.” In a panel discussion that followed a recent showing of this film, moving personal testimony by two former inmates made it clear that Donovan is on the right track on terms of economic investment, as well as human potential.

Louise Hamlin

Norwich

SB 193 a Threat to Public Education

We already have a means of providing universal educational opportunity for all U.S. citizens. It is called public education and is carried out in our public schools. From its beginning, with the Boston Latin School in 1635, and throughout all of its many transformations, led by reformers Horace Mann in the 19th century and many others through the years, who were concerned with the inclusion of women, people of color and people with disabilities, it’s been an exciting metamorphosis. What we have now is not perfect but is close to Mann’s dream of universal education for all.

The responsibility of the government is to make sure that our public schools are the best they can be, not to subsidize educational choices. All of our children are unique and special, whether we care for one or nine. How we choose to educate them, be it at home, in private school or in the local public school is important and involves decision-making based on aspirations and values.

To suggest, as did one contributor to a recent Valley News article (“Advocates Cheer Vouchers: Public Schools Want Protection,” Jan. 23), that sending a child to a local public high school puts a good student at risk for being ridiculed because of her “curiosity and love of learning,” is inflammatory and judgmental. As former public school educators for more than 35 years, we recognize that students may meet all kinds of challenges in public schools, and in private schools as well. We consider this to be a positive thing. The culture of our public schools is one in which we all have the right and the responsibility to engage in order to set the standards against bullying, and for academic and social growth. Senate Bill 193 should be defeated so that public education might continue along its exciting, transformative path.

Judy and Bob McCarthy

Grantham

Newport Student Is Top Orator

The District 6 American Legion Department of New Hampshire held its 22nd annual National High School Oratorical contest on Jan. 20, at the Soldiers’ Memorial Building in Lebanon. This year is the 84th year the American Legion sponsored the contest. Matthew Hennig, of Newport High School, was the winner of this year’s contest and will now represent District 6 in the Department of New Hampshire’s State Finals on March 10 at Saint Anselm College in Manchester. The winner will move on to the National Finals, to be held April 13-15 in Indianapolis, competing for the first-place prize of an $18,000 scholarship.

Larry Greenwood

District 6 Oratorical Chairman