To the editor:
Newspapers this week announced the sad news of the closing of Orland Elementary School. Orland is one of many Maine community schools to be closed in the past year; towns cite budget woes, reduced federal and state aid, inability of citizens to shoulder increased tax burdens. School closing is sad, but worse, it’s wrong.
Federal and state governments tell us that we are broke, but that is far from the truth. There’s plenty of money for maintaining and expanding the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and now Libya, as well as military expansion into Central/South America. Representative Chellie Pingree a few days ago questioned General Petraeus during his testimony to Congress, to ask whether taxpayer dollars are being used appropriately. Pingree stated that Maine’s share of the cost of the wars is $3.4 billion. The Orland School closing will save the town $324,000, including teacher layoffs. The taxpayers of Maine will spend $1.5 billion for proposed Department of Defense spending, fiscal year 2012, an amount that would pay for 26,755 elementary school teachers for one year (according to the National Priorities Project).
On April 4 at 11 a.m., there will be a news conference in Augusta at the Hall of Flags, where Mainers will speak out about why it is crucial to bring our war dollars home, where they can be used to fund the urgent needs of our communities. Children and teachers must not be sacrificed for runaway military spending.