Letters to the Editor

Board members failed to challenge administrators' choices

The editorial 'School board recall a step backward' (July 20th) seems to misunderstand the concerns of the citizenry. The editors suggest that the public objects to 'every vote cast by Terry Howell and Anna Tavera-Weller,' and from this the editors can find no 'evidence that they've abused their power.' To repeat: The public does not object so much as to how Tavera-Weller and Howell have voted, but that they did not seem to question or challenge the options presented by the school administration.

The Giddings' recall effort explicitly spells this out in the Petition for Recall: 'Howell/Tavera-Weller is responsible for providing leadership and direction to the district's administration, yet votes consistently in support of the upper administration's agenda, and typically disregards alternative viewpoints.'

None of the fine questions proposed by the editors - 'Where is the proof that workshops at the high school is helping anything other than test scores?', 'How is credit by proficiency really working?', 'What evidence is there that the expensive new textbooks will help improve reading skills?' - were critically asked or vigorously pursued by either of these two to the administration during the last school year.

This misunderstanding seems widespread: The public does not object to Howell or Tavera-Weller fulfilling their responsibilities as the public's representatives in control of our school district. The public objects that they are in fact not fulfilling these responsibilities, and seem to simply accept any statement and acquiesce to any demand from the administration.

Quentin Crain

Forest Grove

Superintendent's regret over closing school comes as surprise

I was quite shocked the other day when I received an email alert from Superintendent Yvonne Curtis discussing the recent budget decisions and saying 'we lament the loss of many fine staff members and the closure of Gales Creek School as an elementary school.' I was shocked, you see, because that is the very first time since budget discussions began last winter that Ms. Curtis has ever expressed any sort of emotion whatsoever about closing Gales Creek.

In fact, never once - either publicly or privately - did Ms. Curtis ever reach out to the Gales Creek parents or even offer to meet with us about the closure. Never once did she approach us, even informally, after the many board meetings we attended. Never once did she thank us for having the highest per-student volunteer hours of any of the district's schools (61 hours per student for 2010/2011 - 34 hours per student above the next highest school, Echo Shaw, which had 27 hours per student). Never once did Ms. Curtis or any of the school board members publicly commend our PTO for our very successful efforts in raising funds and supporting the school. Never once did she - or the school board - express any regret about closing a school that had been running continuously for 152 years. That's as long as Oregon has been a state.

Finally, neither she, nor anyone from the administration, nor any school board members came to the final school celebration and traditional ringing of the historic school bell. Nope, in the end, the only acknowledgement we ever got was when a school board member told us (before he voted to close it), 'it's just a building.' Pardon me if I find the district's and Ms. Curtis' newfound lament more than a tad disingenuous.

Corrie Bates

Forest Grove

Join Pacific's bottle ban

Let's follow the lead of Pacific University students and staff: They banned the sale of bottled water on campus and they started a 'Take Back the Tap' campaign. The News-Times reported that well on the front page of the July 13 paper; but the SustainableLife insert provided much more detail.

After participating in the Forest Grove tap water quality testing program for 18 years and studying the required testing report that was mailed to city users of tap water, and talking with our the city of Forest Grove Superintendent of the Water Treatment Plant, Randall Smith, I would encourage all of us to 'Take Back the Tap.'

The SustainableLife article stated: '.... people often think bottled water is superior, but more often it's the same or lower quality than tap water.... It's as likely, if not more likely to have contaminants, and even if it doesn't, there are chemicals leaking from the plastics. And it's basically unregulated. The Food and Drug Administration has less than one full-time position regulating a multibillion-dollar industry.'

'Tap water, on the other hand, is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, and is tested more than 300 times a month under much more stringent standards. Because tap water is a public resource, the EPA is required to produce detailed information regarding the source and treatment of the water, and the reports are made public.' The city was required to publish those finding July 1.

Finally, '...almost 50 percent of all bottled water in 2009 came from municipal water supplies...that $1.29 bottle of water costs 2,500 times as much as [the average tap water from most cities].'

So please take back the tap, use refillable containers from the tap, and use bottled water only in emergencies.

Dale Feik

Forest Grove

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