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Letter: Support Early Educators in Vermont

Support Early Educators

To the Editor:

Vermont’s early educators play an increasingly important role in helping families balance work and personal responsibilities by providing quality child care so that Vermont families can work and earn a living. They provide quality learning experiences for children at the very youngest ages and they help prepare children for success in school.

These workers, mostly women, deserve a collective voice and a collective seat at the table. The early educators bill, S. 316, will give them the right to organize. If this bill passes, the next step would be to give them choices for collective bargaining in a union.

As union members, they would have opportunities to work together and earn a sustainable living wage. Vermont Early Educators United is working on the bill. More information may be found at www.kidscountonme.org/.

Please join me in support of the early educators bill and ask your legislators to support the bill as well.

Sharon Racusin


The Pipeline and the People

To the Editor:

There are many environmental reasons to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline. However, regardless of those reasons, trace the route of the oil from the United States back up to the Canadian border, over to Alberta, then on up to the Athabasca River region. There, the oil is mined, and the Cree and Chipewyan First Nations people are living and struggling with the Canadian government and oil companies in a land and watershed contaminated because of that extraction process. The people are dying of rare cancers; drinking water and rivers are contaminated; fish, a major food source, are contaminated; the woodland caribou is being pushed to extinction in Alberta as its migratory route is messed up; toxic containment ponds are breached; treaty rights are breached; and miles of river routes for traditional hunting and trapping are destroyed. To listen to these people’s stories and to see images of the wasted land and the huge tailings ponds is heart wrenching.

So, regardless of all of the environmental tragedies that are occurring and will occur because of these tar sands, there are people up there who are sick and dying and losing their way of living and working — for our benefit? This flow of oil connects us to these people quite literally — and so does our humanity. I encourage us all to educate ourselves — and then talk about it. For more information, go to www.tarsandsfreevermont.org and or www.keepersofthewater.ca.

Jean Gerber

Thetford Center

School of the Future in Mascoma

To the Editor:

In response to Dave Shinnlinger’s Jan. 25 letter: The 2008 proposal for a new Mascoma Valley Regional High School was for $39 million and, more importantly, moved the school a few miles down the road into Enfield. I propose demolishing the existing facility and rebuilding on the same site where all the athletic fields and infrastructure are located. As Dave points out, the current school has many major deficiencies that have lingered for 20-plus years, the worst being lack of insulation. While the renovation addresses some space and safety issues, we are still left with a 1962 school model.

Times have changed. Upper Valley manufacturers are crying for qualified people. Plumbers and electricians can write their own check, yet we treat students interested in these fields like second-class citizens. We push kids toward four-year degrees for jobs that don’t exist. We need to expand programs like Dave Schinnlinger’s, bring back a metals program, among others, that would allow science and math to be integrated into programs for the hands-on learner (aka most of us).

Imagine a school with classrooms with a teacher’s office; unisex bathrooms accessible for those with disabilities; radiant heat floors, ventilation and adequate space; a school with wide open corridors, without prison style cement block walls, heated by a boiler that burns chips from trees harvested on school property. Imagine a school that doesn’t look like every school in the state.

If the renovation plan passes we are sealing the fate of education at MVRHS for 20 years to come. My granddaughter is currently in the sixth grade at Indian River School in Canaan, and I would love to see her in a new MVRHS.

Gary L. Hutchins


Important Campaign Finance Bill

To the Editor:

The New Hampshire Senate recently passed SB 120 in a bipartisan vote of 19 to 4. If approved by the House, this bill will effectively require that all the largest special-interest groups report their expenditures for all to see. Finally, New Hampshire residents will have the right to know how much money special-interest groups spend to buy our elections. This bill was passed because of the work of Sen. Jeb Bradley, its sponsor, and with the collaboration of Sen. Bob Odell and Sen. David Pierce of Hanover. I want to thank them and the 16 other senators who joined them.

Some important points: The bill would allow voters to know who is spending money in state elections. Having every dollar publicly reported would increase public confidence and trust in our government. Current state law has a loophole that allows outside interests to spend millions of dollars on influencing elections without reporting that spending. And currently, only candidates and political parties must report all of their receipts and expenditures. SB 120 would require outside special interests to do the same. Now the challenge goes to the House to pass this bill. Please let your representatives know you demand action.

Elizabeth A. Trought


Irresponsible Health Law

To the Editor:

We have been gifted with a health-care law that forces us to purchase an insurance plan and assesses a fine if we don’t; which covers several more million people without adding any more doctors or medical facilities; adds thousands more IRS agents to ensure that we have bought insurance; written by a committee whose chairman admits that the insurance website is a disaster; passed by a Congress that didn’t read it and exempted themselves from its central provision; signed by a president who guaranteed that everyone who liked their insurance could keep it; overseen by secretary of Health and Human Services who spent $500 million on a computer program that does not work; and enacted by a government that is on the road to bankruptcy and bankrupting Social Security and Medicare, under a president who by his own acts changes the law passed by members of Congress so concerned about re-election that they are subjugating their constitutional duty and not standing up and enforcing the law they passed, again without reading it. So what could possibly go wrong? As an engineer, if I pick and choose which rules that I want to follow, or postpone by my own choosing those rules/regulations that may keep me from getting additional work, and the building collapses, should I be held responsible or given a pass? Remember this in November!

Bruce St. Peter