Forum, June 2: Memories of What Was, and What Could Be

Friday, June 01, 2018
What Was, and What Could Be

Memorial Day prompted me to think of the great respect I have for the men and women who have sacrificed their lives, either by death or injury, for our freedoms and way of life. Those, too, who gave their lives because they were called on to do so, even though the purpose of that sacrifice was unclear and perhaps only political, which is a shame on our government.

But then I reflect on other memories. I remember when we all had affordable health care. I remember when there were not millions of assault rifles in the hands of everyday citizens and children. Education and the betterment of our children was a priority. Our rights to free speech and religion were not being challenged. We had affordable child care. We were not stumbling over hypodermic needles as drugs overtook our society. We were well on our way to accepting all races as equals and didn’t have aspirations of white supremacy. I, and many others, as single parents, could, if we worked hard enough, support and care for our children’s needs. Our Justice Department worked on the behalf of our citizens and not at the calling of the influence of money, corporations and political figures. Our politicians and citizens were more cognizant of the “long range” of decisions made, ensuring the security, health and rights of all our citizens. We took care of those who could not take care of themselves.

The next call of duty should be apparent to those who do not have blinders on. We need to fight back against those who are willing to sell out our country in the interest of monetary gain. Otherwise, we join the ranks of those countries that have fallen to autocracies, increasing the wealth of a few to the overall detriment of the many. We must stop this trend now for the survival of our beautiful country as we have known it. It is imperative that we not let the deaths and injuries of our soldiers and countrymen be in vain.

Sylvia J. Heath

Hartland Four Corners

Clarifying Bank Building Story

I want to clarify some inaccuracies in your article regarding a pending auction of the National Bank Building in Lebanon (“Bank Building Up for Auction,” June 1).

Firstrust Bank delayed the auction so it can resolve a major ambiguity in the mortgage. Firstrust is actually foreclosing on a partner’s interest in the building, not due to any problems with the building or its finances. That partner pledged his membership interest for a loan and has defaulted on that loan. All of our other loans are in good standing.

Second, I do not manage Renihan Meadows Condominium Complex. I own several units there and am on the board of directors, but do not manage the complex.

Richard Balagur

East Thetford

Honoring Our Amazing Volunteers

During National Volunteer week in April, Upper Valley volunteers were honored at Volapalooza, a communitywide celebration of service. The second annual event was hosted by King Arthur Flour with support from Mascoma Bank and Granite United Way. It was a festive evening with live entertainment and delicious food and beverages donated by King Arthur Flour, Harpoon Brewery, The Skinny Pancake, and the Co-op Food stores. Volunteers and staff were present from Bayada Hospice, COVER, David’s House, Dismas House, Good Beginnings of the Upper Valley, Good Neighbor Health Clinic, Listen Community Services, Spark Community Center, Upper Valley Haven, Vital Communities, Willing Hands and WISE.

On behalf of the Upper Valley Volunteer Coordinators, a group that meets regularly to discuss and promote volunteerism, sincere thanks to the sponsors and businesses that made this event possible. And special thanks to our 3,000-plus amazing volunteers who devote close to 60,000 hours a year to help our organizations and, ultimately, our communities. We could not do our work without your help.

Amber Johnston, Director of Volunteer Services

Upper Valley Haven

Mary Sutton-Smith, Volunteer Coordinator


Nancy Lindahl, Volunteer Coordinator

Bayada Hospice

Collaboration Is the Key

Congratulations to the 2018 graduates of Ledyard Charter School. Their success is attributable to their grit in weathering difficult times during their school careers. It is also due to the support by Lebanon and the surrounding districts of an alternative for students struggling with traditional school. I volunteered briefly at Ledyard last year and can testify to the care and commitment of Executive Director John Higgins and his staff to create an environment that is responsive to the students’ diverse needs.

Charter schools and vouchers have been in the forefront of recent education reform. Reformers advocating privatization believe that school choice and competition are necessary to improve education. Another view argues that charter schools ought to be privately managed and run like businesses.

The nation now has about 5,000 charter schools. Business leaders and politicians expect that competition and incentives will improve education and give them an adequate return on their investment. They are clearly misguided. Despite the push for charter schools in George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind program and Barrack Obama’s Race to the Top, Diane Ravitch, a well-known educator, notes that there is no empirical evidence to support the belief that “school choice” and competition produce better education.

Albert Shanker, former president of the American Federation of Teachers, had a vision in 1988 of charter schools as education laboratories, allowing teachers to experiment with new methods to educate students struggling inside the traditional system. The sharing of ideas among teachers in both traditional public and charter schools would benefit students in both settings.

The recent article on Ledyard Charter School suggests collaboration, rather than competition, with the Upper Valley’s traditional high schools is the norm (“Alternative Classrooms: Charter School in Lebanon Finds Solid Footing, at Last,” May 22). There is an acknowledgement that Ledyard Charter School complements the traditional school insofar as it provides a valid alternative for “turned off” students, has flexibility to allow staff and students to experiment, and provides a positive springboard for student future growth. It deserves our wholehearted support.

Bob Scobie