Letters to the Editor, March 21

What Is A 'Protected Class?'


I have a question that I feel the need to ask your readers for them to ponder over, and hopefully come to their own respective conclusions about. 

Relative to anti-discrimination statutes, since a “protected class” is a group of people qualified for special protection by law, do you believe persons with such a “protected status” in essence are unfairly given more rights or special rights not provided to persons who are not members of such a “protected class?” 

Ron Beaty  

West Barnstable

The writer is a Barnstable County Commissioner.


Disappearing Part Of Chatham


When I returned from a six-week visit abroad with family, I was shocked to read in The Chronicle that the house on 356 Stage Harbor Rd. was to be razed.

In the mid 1950s, a friend convinced my parents to allow me to come to Chatham to work at "Farmer's Delicatessen" on the corner of Main and Seaview Streets. She even had arranged for me to stay with her aunt, Clara Crowell on stage Harbor Road across from The Atwood House.

The then-white with green trim Cape was a welcome sight at the end of every day with its wrap-around porch and exquisite tooled front door. The doorbell was in the middle of the door which, when turned, made a rather raspy clanging sound. There was a brick fireplace in the large sunny room opposite the front door. To the left of it, the winding staircase led up to my room, one of two overlooking the porch. The beam of the Coast Guard lighthouse

swept around the room, and in August the foghorn sounded almost nightly.

I imagine it is still much the same. I went back this week to see for myself. The porch is sturdy and unbroken. Through the window, I could observe the staircase and banister as well as the intact floors and hall of the front rooms. I imagined "my" room and its view is mostly unchanged. As I sadly left the porch, I gave the doorbell one last turn, it sounded the same as it did 60 years ago.

This historic Cape house represents a part of Chatham that is rapidly disappearing.


Jane M. Ryder




<Headline>Backs Plastic Bottle Ban



Studies increasingly show the adverse effect of plastic to our health, environment, and economy. Plastic has the potential to leach chemicals, such as BPA and phthalates, into beverages and food causing severe health impacts. Of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic produced worldwide, 6.3 billion metric tons is waste. Of that, only 9 percent has been recycled. More than 80 percent of marine litter is estimated to be plastic. Plastic debris causes more than a million seabird and more than 100,000 marine mammal deaths each year. Sustainable Practices, a Cape Cod environmental action group, notes that 80 percent of the debris picked up on Cape beaches is plastic. That is certainly the case when I walk Chatham beaches.
The bylaw proposal to eliminate plastic bottle purchase, sale, and distribution by town governments is up for adoption at town meetings in Chatham and surrounding towns. The municipal plastic bottle ban is a much needed step to reduce plastic usage while necessary infrastructure, such as water stations, are added. Individual action at the local level is a powerful vehicle for change and this bylaw is a step in the right direction to eliminate the continued use of single-use plastic bottles.

Sherrie Burson

South Chatham


Ban Good For Cape's Environment


I am writing to support the May 6 town of Harwich warrant Article 54, the proposed bylaw to prohibit the procurement and distribution of plastic beverage containers on town property by the town of Harwich.

Plastic is both ubiquitous and persistent. There is no ecologically safe method of production or disposal. The low cost consumption of plastic in our convenience life style does not reflect the true cost of its impact on human and environmental health.

Cape Cod is a summer destination and its population triples in the summer. The Cape's economy is dependent on clean, accessible beaches, trails and woodlands. The marine and avian environments are particularly vulnerable to plastic debris and pollution.

Government exists to protect public welfare. The European Union has voted to ban single-use plastics. Concord, Mass. has already passed this ban. So too Provincetown and Wellfleet. Other Cape towns are considering the same proposal. Increasing awareness is key to changing behavior.  

We are asking our fellow citizens to transition to the use of containers that do not kill wildlife, harm the environment, and contain harmful chemicals.  We can switch to using our own refillable, reusable containers for water and other liquids instead of a single-use plastic containers that are disposed of after one use. 

Please join me and support the municipal plastic beverage container ban in our community. See sustainablepracticesltd.org.

Patrick Otton



Assembly Line Education?


The overlays Matt Brown described recently on secondary school education cultures – especially in public schools – have created new and often unnerving dynamics on classrooms, on teacher accountability and on educational strategies. All encroaching on the art of teaching.

He points out that the way many of us seniors were educated was through mechanisms, strategies and classroom cultures controlled by teachers and administrators, all overseen by a school committee. A kind of family model. 

That model worked for most of us. However, during the past 50 years or so, outside meddling by some and the application of "scientific management" by others has led to a kind of social engineering model of teaching which is highly dependent on test scores (from tests not created by teachers), by systematic efforts to weaken teacher unions, and by funding mechanisms designed to support and weaken the impacts of teacher distribution and administrative oversight.

He points out that the classic Massachusetts image of "Mark Hopkins on one end of the log with a student on the other" as antique, as long gone and replaced by a kind of assembly line, aided by automation and external demands of testers at the state level. Add to this "choice" and the chaos embedded in each district's culture. Teachers as assembly line workers.

I surfaced a poem that I wrote almost two decades ago as this cultural change began to show itself as the wave of the future. It was sad, but appears to have been somewhat prescient.

Tom Johnson

Harwich Port