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Forum, April 20: A Laugh to Start the Day


Wednesday, April 19, 2017
A Laugh to Start the Day

I start the day with a cup of tea and the Valley News. There is usually nothing to chuckle about, until I read the comics. However, “The Tangled Tongue of Sean Spicer” (April 14) by syndicated columnist Dana Milbank had me laughing before I got to Shoe and Zits. In fact, I laughed so hard, I startled the dog; good way to begin the day.

Trudy Cohen

Croydon

Explain This to Me

I need help! Would someone explain to me why breaking our immigration laws is OK? Should we be able to pick and choose what laws to obey? After being arrested, why are people allowed to leave, come back, etc.?

Remember Kate Steinle! I walked with my daughter on the same San Francisco walkway where she was shot. What possible excuse was there for the shooter to be here in the first place?

My grandfather’s citizenship papers are framed in the living room. Shouldn’t we obey the law?

Help!

Janet Connolly

Meriden

Poison in Syria, and Here

I, too, cried at the sight of toddlers gassed by the Syrian government (“Editorial: Slashing a Budget: A Small, Needed Program Under Fire,” April 15). If launching 60 cruise missiles (each costing $1 million) avenges their injuries and deaths or actually prevents future chemical attacks on innocents or manages to promote peace through fear of U.S. military power, who am I to complain?

But since we’re all agreed it was largely a symbolic gesture, could we have gotten away with launching, say, 46 missiles instead of 60? That savings of $14 million could nicely cover Trump’s proposal to cut state block grants aimed at reducing children’s exposure to lead-based paint.

I know that the poisoning of a child’s nervous system by lead is not nearly as dramatic as the effects of sarin. I’m also pretty sure that Trump and the GOP aren’t actually for lead poisoning; they’d say they’re just allowing states to regulate the health of their residents as they see fit. Unfortunately, we now know when critical federal initiatives are returned, especially without funds, to cash-strapped states, it’s short-hand for saying: “Really, we can’t be bothered.”

Joette Hayashigawa

Thetford Center

Seniors Experience the Arts

Thank you very much for your wonderful feature about our Experience/Arts program, a yearlong project to bring high quality and substantive arts education to older adults across Grafton County (“ ‘Release From the Doldrums’: Grafton County Begins Arts Program for Seniors,” April 15).

We are especially pleased to partner with the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire in this endeavor. Valley News staff writer EmmaJean Holley and photographer Jovelle Tamayo did a great job of capturing the spirit of our kick-off course, “Opening Windows — Exploring and Writing Poetry.”

We invite the public to the poetry course’s culminating event at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 5, at the Upper Valley Senior Center in Lebanon. The event is free of charge and includes hors d’oeuvres and readings of participants’ work from the past two months.

Throughout 2017, we will be offering eight diverse, eight-week courses in Lebanon, Plymouth, Haverhill and Littleton thanks to support from Aroha Philanthropies and the Couch Family Foundation. For several years, we also have worked with AVA Gallery & Art Center to offer the very popular ongoing senior art class, also thanks to support from the Couch Family Foundation.

As a private nonprofit organization partnering with other private nonprofits in other disciplines, we know that together we can do a great deal to enrich and engage older adults in our communities. Thank you to all of our partners, and thank you to the Valley News.

Roberta Berner, Executive Director

Grafton County Senior Citizens Council, Inc.

Lebanon

N.H. State Aid for the Wealthy

Should New Hampshire taxpayers help well-to-do families pay for their children’s education at private and religious schools, at the expense of children from middle- and low-income homes?

That’s what will happen if New Hampshire Senate Bill 193 becomes law. This bill would give families a subsidy of about $4,400 per student for tuition at a private or religious school (as reportedly estimated by the bill’s Senate sponsor, John Reagan).

The bill has been promoted as providing more educational opportunities for children from low-income families, but, in reality, it would not expand opportunities for these children.

According to Private School Review, the average annual private school tuition in New Hampshire is $21,426, among the highest in the nation. The subsidy this bill would create leaves a family with a cost of about $17,000 each year per child to attend a school with tuition. I don’t know any impoverished family that can afford this tuition cost. Wealthier families, however, may easily pay the $17,000 difference. So, who benefits from this bill? Certainly not children in low-income households.

Also, as wealthier children are removed from public schools, the school population becomes increasingly one of poverty, further embedding disadvantages into the lives of poor children.

In addition, private and religious schools are not held as accountable by the state as public schools are. For example, the state does not stipulate what a private or religious school should teach nor determine the minimum qualifications of its staff. In addition, graduates of these schools do not have to meet the same requirements as those of public high schools.

Finally, the bill would force taxpayers to help pay for tuition at religious schools. So, your tax dollars may go to schools with religious doctrines you do not endorse. The bill could well violate the First Amendment separation of church and state.

Amazingly, this bill has already passed the New Hampshire Senate. Help stop a bill that further advantages the rich to the disadvantage of the poor.

Tell your representatives to prevent this giveaway for the wealthy!

Jack Hurley

Claremont

Vermont Districts Need Flexibility

The difficulty in getting communities to give up their local school boards, and in some cases schools, is inherent in the structure of Act 46 itself. A highly structured top-down approach using carrots and sticks to try to force compliance is not in the best interest of communities, schools and, most importantly, children.

Recognizing this, on April 12 a diverse group of legislators proposed suggestions to the House Education Committee that would allow flexibility in the use of the “alternative structures ” provision of this law. Those calling for the change include representatives from our region: Democrats Jim Masland, Tim Briglin, Chip Conquest and Republicans Jay Hooper, David Ainsworth and Robert Frenier, independent Ben Jickling and Progressive Sandy Haas.

While consolidation has been relatively easy for some schools, particularly where there are not topographical challenges or long travel distances, for over 90 other school districts in Vermont it has been extremely challenging. Unless the Legislature provides for more flexibility, people in districts where it does not meet the needs of their children and communities will continue to say no to consolidation despite the carrots and sticks from Montpelier. This willingness to resist unreasonable change is commendable.

John Freitag

South Strafford

The Trouble With Renewables

If you support the March for Science on April 22, you should vote no to making Hanover 100 percent renewable at 7 p.m. on May 9. Do the math. There’s no power from wind during lulls, no power from sun at night, and there’s no way to store enough electricity.

Wilder Dam can generate electricity for a few hours until the water level drops. Burning trees pollutes the air and spoils the land. Don’t be duped by Stanford Professor Mark Z. Jacobson’s fantastical writings.

Voting to feel good won’t stop global warming, and self-satisfaction will keep you from thinking about what really will.

Robert Hargraves

Hanover