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Governor says to student, "read a book"

LePage responds to student's concerns about loss of net neutrality

By Susan Mustapich | Jan 02, 2018
Photo by: Susan Mustapich Hope and Rick Osgood

LINCOLNVILLE — A high school student who wrote Gov. Paul LePage regarding her concerns about the loss of net neutrality received a handwritten response from the governor last week, which said: Pick up a book and read!

In the month leading up to the recent  Federal Communications Commission repeal net neutrality regulations vote, student Hope Osgood of Lincolnville, learned about net neutrality, and what could happen if it ended. While browsing social media she found an application online that would generate a letter she wrote expressing her concerns, and emailed it to Gov. LePage.

She said Dec. 27 that since she is from Maine, she felt a local representative would listen to her, more than a member of Congress would. She reasoned that "there's only so many people that could write to him [LePage], rather than Congress where people from all 50 states could write to them."

She wrote, "The internet is the easiest way to access anything. News, information, etc. Companies being able to put restrictions on internet usage isn't ideal! People will be left in the dark about some things. All my school work is internet based, but what happens if I can't reach what I need to? What about my lessons in school?"

Osgood further explained her concerns about the loss of net neutrality Dec. 27. While she acknowledges that right now, no one knows what is going to happen, she is concerned that big companies, "might have more control over everything. If you wanted to go to a certain website, it might be slowed down. You might have to pay to access that, or it might be completely blocked off what you can see. They could filter news, media, or things they don't agree with. I don't think that should be able to happen. Everybody should be able to get information."

Osgood explained that at Camden Hills Regional High School, where she is a sophomore, the students use an application called Schoology. She describes Schoology as "a huge app." The classes she takes, her grades, teacher assignments including reading, worksheets and homework are posted there. If she misses an assignment, she can "get it right away" and "pass it in." Osgood is on the school's basketball and soccer teams, and plans to run track this year as well. On Schoology, she can monitor her grades to keep them up, and avoid probation that would prevent participation in athletics.

She described a recent history assignment, that started with a reading on Schoology. "You read it, you annotate and write notes on it. Independent research was required as part of the assignment, and this is where the internet is used, and students have to document the resources they use. Class discussions of the topics follow, and the project culminates with students writing a paper. "We had to cite eight sources from our reading, and six sources from our research."

She also spoke about old books in the classrooms that are marked up, and in bad condition.

"With books, there's a certain limitation," she said. "with the old books, I don't want to say that's wrong, but it's not updated information. In my generation, we don't pay attention to books. Our access is at our fingertips on our technology."

She is concerned what she needs to do for school could be affected by the loss of net neutrality. Beyond school, she is concerned about how social media could be impacted, as it is how she connects with friends.

Lepage response

About a month after Osgood sent her email to Gov. LePage, her grandfather Rick Osgood handed her a letter that had arrived in the mail from his office. In the envelope was a copy of her letter, with a message handwritten in the white space below. The message read:

"Hope. Pick up a book and read! Governor."

Hope's first impression of the governor's letter was that his comment was snarky. Other than that, she wasn't sure what to think about it.

"I'm only 16 years old, I've only talked to so many people," she said in an interview." I just thought it was rude. I didn't know how to react to that. I'm a kid. I can't really do that much."


She showed the letter to her grandfather. He did not like what he saw, and thought others should know about it.


Rick Osgood, has voted for LePage twice, and supports much of what the governor is doing in Maine. But he does not like how the governor responded to his granddaughter's letter.

"I think it's mighty rude," he said. "I think he could have explained a little more than one little sentence. He could have explained his views."

Osgood said he realizes that the governor has "has plenty to do," but feels that if he had the time to write the comment, he could have explained his feelings on the issue. Osgood sees what the governor wrote as " just a snide remark."

Both of the Osgoods question how it is that Gov. LePage can sign legislation to give students iPads for school use, and then write what he did on a letter about how changes in the internet could affect their use.

"I'm not a computer savvy person," Rick Osgood said. He thinks students "ought to learn to read, write and do arithmetic before they ever use a computer."

"But in this day and age, they need the computer. Reading a book is fine, but it isn't the answer."

Overall, Osgood is in favor of much of what LePage is doing, and said he does not intend any disrespect towards the governor. "I think he's doing a great job on some things and other things not so much. I'm still in favor of what he's doing, things have to change."

On the other hand, due to the letter exchange, if the term-limited governor were to run for another elected office, he will not get Osgood's vote.

"I voted for him but I shan't again. If he decides to run in the Senate, he has one less vote."

Gov. LePage's communications director and press secretary did not respond to telephone and email requests for a response by press deadline.



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Comments (18)
Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Jan 11, 2018 23:21

So the law that was in place that just got lifted basically said communications companies could not slow down, charge extra for, or deny access of anything on the internet.  An example would be a telephone company who provides internet access cannot block the use of Vonage (Vonage is a VOIP based telephone service that would be competition for the telephone company providing the internet service).

One could almost look at net-neutrality as the internet's version of Monopoly protection.

A good analogy that I've recently heard is comparing the internet to highways.  There are free roads to drive on and there are toll highways to drive on.  You can get there on the free roads, it'll just take you longer. But then there might be roads owned by CVS and if you are trying to get to Walgreens, well, you're plum outta luck because none of CVS's highways lead to a Walgreens.

Without that law in place, companies like Comcast can now deny service to websites like AT&T or truthfully anything they deem necessary

Posted by: Karla Schwarze | Jan 11, 2018 14:22

Many comments here show a poor understanding of what Net Neutrality or the loss of it means.  Losing Net Neutrality means that your internet providers get to decide what parts of the internet will be delivered to you quickly, slowly, or not at all.  That includes news, entertainment, business and social websites, literally everything.  Comcast owns NBC.  They can decide NBC is the only news allowed on their internet service. These decisions will be based on who is willing to pay them the most to get in the fast lane.  It amazes me that the governor doesn't see how much Maine has to lose when we lose Net Neutrality.  Can Maine's small businesses compete with companies like Walmart to get their web pages out in front of customers when Walmart's page loads 50 times faster, and theirs might not even be allowed through at all?   Someone said there is no incentive by business to offer a slow clumsy product.  This misunderstands the business model.  The slow clumsy product is not an offer, it's a threat.   The new customers of the ISPs aren't us, the users, they're the businesses who will have to pay these companies to carry their internet content.  If we had a choice of 10 providers, maybe we'd still have some leverage, but who has that here in Maine?  Our governor is extremely short-sighted if he can't see how this will put Maine's businesses at a huge disadvantage competing without immense buckets of money.

Posted by: Kevin Riley | Jan 09, 2018 10:54

I will add there have always been kids that could not make change. It has nothing to do with the technologies of today. None of that was around when I graduated high school in 71 and there were kids working in shops that could not or had a hard time making change. It is real easy to scapegoat using that which is new and little understood.

Posted by: Kevin Riley | Jan 09, 2018 07:12

You can clearly see the technological, generational divide in this thread.

If kits can't make change or write a coherent sentence it's not the fault of the technology we use today. But the blame squarely where it belongs. With the schools and parents.

Posted by: Lance Philbrook | Jan 08, 2018 13:13

I Agree with Norman Carver 100%. Young adults of today depend way to much on the internet and electronics. I have seen teens of today that can not make change for a $1.00 or even know the difference between signing their name and printing their name. We need to get back to the basics.

Posted by: Kevin Riley | Jan 08, 2018 07:09

Patricia Keyes

Amazing. Everything you posted about net neutrality is completely wrong. Net neutrality is what built the internet we have today. Net neutralty is what allowed for all the innovation that we enjoy today. Making it a requirement would continue that invalidation unabated. Without it the providers can do what ever they want to do with regards as to how you get your connection. Think of how the cable companies deliver your TIERED service now only without net neutrality they can not only decide what you get and how but at what speed. That stifles innovation. You get locked in to the only provider available to you and nothing changes.  Net neutrality requires that providers treat all customers equally, not choke access and not block sites of competitors or otherwise.  And there is no deep state "of the internet" anywhere. The internet is NOT owned by WE THE PEOPLE it is owned and operated by commercial for profit companies. The BACKBONE of the internet is operated and maintained by the US Government in this country as it is in just about every other country in the world. I really don't think you have any idea what the internet is nor who huge and pervasive it is world wide. the US is just one part of a massive worldwide network.
Deep state is a made up boogie man that just does not exist.
I kinda have a good handle on this since I've been around and on line since ARPANET.

Posted by: Patricia Keyes | Jan 06, 2018 13:54

The real question here is why didn't Ms Osgood respond to the governor's note with a letter asking him to clarify? Why is she in the press at all? It suggests that the reporter or the school has ulterior motives for putting it here in the newspaper. Gov LePage has little time, and for him to respond efficiently should be taken as a willingness to value the tax dollars taken off working class Mainers.

Miss Osgood should read books. That doesn't negate the usefulness of the internet, but Net Neutrality wasn't about access to information at all. Net Neutrality was a grab by the deep state of the internet, turning it into a public utility that would be unable to change with new technological innovations, unable to grow and get better. Essentially, it would stay what it is today. Any time saving, or energy saving changes would not be possible, and the govt would eventually TAX IT. The internet DOESN'T belong to government workers! It belongs to WE THE PEOPLE.

There will never be a problem with access to information as long as the govt stays out of it! There is no incentive by private business to offer a slow clumsy expensive product. But your school administrators, union workers who don't like new more efficient models because they'll lose their jobs or benefits, will always complain and misinform on this topic. If you read books by conservative authors, my dear, you will learn something you won't learn in schools, because public schools are NOT NEUTRAL.

Posted by: Jack Lane | Jan 05, 2018 08:03

Mr. Lapham, very well said--- a truth that many are unable to comprehend.

Posted by: Nicholas Lapham | Jan 04, 2018 14:37

I've taken a group of students, including two from Camden HS, to present to Gov. LePage over lunch at Blaine House.  He engaged directly with the students, asked great questions, gave them a personal tour, and then asked them back to present to the Legislative Committee on Education and Culture.  He has a deep, abiding interest in education, as was evident that day. And just last month I spent an hour with a dean at U. Maine-Fort Kent who, admitting he was not by inclination a LePage supporter, couldn't say enough positive things about the Governor's support for many forward thinking education initiatives.  The fact that he even took the time to respond at all should be welcomed, and the student should appreciate his response.  Reminds me of being yelled at a coach on the playing field.  That usually meant s/he was paying attention, and you were worthy of her feedback.  And, I would encourage the student to spend some time in her local library looking at books that might never be digitalized.  And, may she some day find herself enjoying reading real books, like Goodnight Moon, to her own children.  (And, please spare us the dime store psychoanalysis of Gov. LePage. It comes across as mean-spirited and petty.  Did you have to live on the streets when you were  a child?  What qualifies you to be so judgmental?)


Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Jan 04, 2018 07:52

Kudos to Nancy Fitzgerald and Kevin Riley. Paul LePage has lots of issues from his youth that he hasn't dealt with and probably will not at his age. Inside he is still that little homeless boy running around Lewiston acting like a tough guy. Not to say he hasn't made a good life for himself, however he has, no doubt,  bulldozed over many people.

Posted by: Kevin Riley | Jan 04, 2018 07:05

Norman D Carver, Saying the equivalent of “back in my day” shows you have not moved into the 21st century. It’s not your day anymore nor is it mine. Pining for how it was done in the past shows a lack of understanding as to how the world works now and the internet/WWW specifically. Life has changed, as it always does, and the world is a very different place than when you or I were in school.
The internet is an indispensable tool for commerce, communication and yes education. It opens the entire world at your fingertips. It allows students like Ms. Osgood to access information and knowledge in minutes as opposed to hours or days.
Being able to function on the web is a requirement for living and working today.
LaPage’s response to Ms. Osgood once again shows his complete lack of understanding, comprehension and connection to the realities of today’s world.
Not to mention it was rude, glib and uncalled for. He doesn’t have a clue and can’t evn buy a ticket for the clue bus.

Posted by: Norman D Carver | Jan 03, 2018 13:48

I think the Gov's response was right to  the point in answer to the questions asked. Where did we find infromation before the dawn of the internet?  Books  and many times visits to your local library to access those books. If the internet was to go down for any length of time  books would have to be the answers to the young ladies questions!!!!

Posted by: Harry Fitzgerald | Jan 03, 2018 11:51

Mr. Ecker, the person you are referring to who wrote the letter is a high school student. She had legitimate questions and concerns regarding net neutrality, as do many others. She wrote a letter to the highest elected official in our state, and should have gotten a response that would show at least a few minutes of thought, rather than the rude and flip comment he made to her. It proves again, his unfitness and lack of ability to hold this or any other position in state government, when he can't even formulate an answer to a high school student looking for a reasonable response. No one knows what is going to happen when net neutrality goes away, look at what Apple did to slow down older iphones; why would anyone not think this is going to be a problem. Keep asking those questions, Ms. Osgood, and keep fighting for answers! You, and questioning students everywhere are our future. Don't be discouraged or dismissed by rude, incomplete or inaccurate answers.

Nancy Fitzgerald

Posted by: Alan Benner | Jan 03, 2018 11:30

LePage has time and again shown his lack of class. This time he has reached such an extreme low that this outrageous reply to an obviously thoughtful student should even make Donald Trump blush!!!

Posted by: Diane Possee | Jan 03, 2018 07:30

Lepage might consider taking his own advice.....My guess is that he hasn't read many books EVER......

Posted by: Edwin E Ecker | Jan 03, 2018 03:39

It would have been a good story if either of the complainants had a clue about the contents of the bill.. If anyone reads the bill and has any comprehension skills at all it would be made clear that the fear and hype about it are way out of line with reality.

Posted by: Claire Forbes | Jan 02, 2018 16:52

I am shocked at the governor's response.  Students use books and and the intertnet today.  Does he use the interne?  Good for Ms Osgood for asking don't give up.


Posted by: George Terrien | Jan 02, 2018 15:57

Our governor's response to Ms. Osgood suggests that he thinks that only books (obviously published before someone can read them) contain written information that is valuable.  He certainly has dismissed newspapers, and not just because he did not include any reference to the press in his note.  Why does he continue to celebrate stupidity?  Does he think we are all too stupid to recognize the ignorance of insularity?

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