Sometimes the misunderstanding about what public education can do for a community is breathtaking.
In a recent letter to the editor, Bernice Fraser of Minot opposed preschool for 4-year-olds — which adds zero to local taxes — claiming that it does "nothing" for education.
But, says Kathleen McCartney, dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, "There's increasing evidence that children gain a lot from going to preschool . . . they become exposed to numbers, letters and shapes . . . more important, they learn how to socialize — get along with other children, share, contribute to circle time."
Among the legacies that Mary Martin left Mechanic Falls was the pre-K program she started two years ago at Elm Street School (also under way at Poland Community School). When I visited that classroom every week, the kids demonstrated that, with loving and structured supervision, the thrill of learning is contagious. Just ask any kindergarten or first-grade teacher since then. They see the results every day.
What's more, according to former Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe, formal pre-K education actually leads to a reduction in juvenile crime, which helps explain why some 40 states now offer state-funded pre-K education.
Some taxpayers say that "my kids didn't get anything like that." OK, but with the proposed tax increase having shrunk to nearly nothing (actually nothing in Mechanic Falls), I know that one generation can afford to help the next one. It's called progress.
Dave Griffiths, Mechanic Falls
Member, RSU 16 School Committee