I am always impressed with Laurie Lachance and her grasp of economic issues. As usual she is right on in “Maine must dare to dream big” (column, April 18).

She is, perhaps, too gentle in noting our investment too late in the cycle of a child’s learning. We are the only industrialized nation that invests so heavily when it makes so little difference. The struggle for educational success is mostly won or lost by then.

Lachance is correct that we must focus on the age 0-5 population. The negative effects of toxic preschool years are clearly seen in brain research that documents the damage to a critical learning function; short-term memory.

She also notes a winning strategy in Jobs for Maine’s Graduates. Research suggests it is a very effective and cheap intervention. Yet, it is far from fully accessible to all of Maine’s middle and high school students. I note nothing in the governor’s budget proposal that would change that.

Her positive focus on vision is a real strength of her leadership. It must be balanced by a better understanding of just how badly education is failing too many of our students. Among several negative indicators reading skills stand out. Approximately 65 percent of Maine students do not read proficiently at the end of grade 3. Reading is the core skill in all areas of the curriculum after grade 3.

I believe the debate about public education lacks a sense of the crisis we face. Lachance’s suggestions take on more importance when you consider the facts about our crisis in education.

Dean Crocker

Estero, Fla., and Manchester