My husband and I moved to Poland 16 years ago. Our son was seven and our daughter was six. We chose Poland because of RSU 16. We wanted our children to attend a school system where individuality was celebrated and where social consciousness was integrated in an academically rigorous curriculum. RSU 16 exceeded our expectations.

I do not know Mike Downing, but based on his discriminatory language, I do know he is wrong for any school board. When I think of a person who supports ideologies of such prejudice having power in any decision for our school system, I shudder.

I encourage the people of RSU 16 to join me in registering disapproval by any means appropriate to help Downing follow through on his own words: “I’m going to make things better, not worse.” That can only happen if he resigns.

Downing’s values are antithetical to the education that we want for our children — one of inclusion, awareness and unity.

Some may think I am related to Mary Martin. There is no relationship, but I did serve on a committee with her during the middle-school consolidation. She is a pioneer in the school system, a dedicated purveyor of peace and solidarity.

In sum, Downing’s sexist characterizations of women in power, as well as his overtly racist comments about Martin Luther King Jr. Day and a student, are despicable. Community members must work to negate the harmful effect he could have on RSU 16.

Julie Martin, Poland

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