This is my fourth year working in the public schools, and I've observed that class size is everything. It is absolutely everything. Even a mediocre teacher can make the connections a student needs, given the time to attend to that child.

When a few more students are added to the classroom, one of them often brings discipline needs that drain the teacher's efforts and the classroom's spirit. When there are too many students, those who do not cause trouble get no attention.

I advocate for cutting the school year time and again before increasing class size. No kidding.

I've also been amazed how devoted teachers are. They work hard. They come in early. They stay late. And they care about each and every child.

By underfunding our schools, we have made a decision to be on the fast track to ruining one of the very best places to live on Earth. We might as well put a huge sign at the city's entrance: 'If you are a middle-class family, we don't want you! Please move to the suburbs!' If you want a great place to raise a family, sorry, that's not Portland's plan anymore.

If this isn't really our plan, we'd better get back to investing in our schools. Otherwise we are making a decision by neglect.

Tini Maier

Southeast Portland

Lift the Lace Curtain:

Buy books by men

There are two ways to deal with the Lace Curtain (Lace Curtain falls on male authors, Insight, March 15) that many feel is rampant in the literary arts: Expose and avoid institutions that promulgate gender bias Ñ and guys, get out there and buy some books written by men.

It's a tribute to women that they read more, a shame if the book publishing world tries to suppress male writers. Don't just see the film 'Fight Club': Buy the book and read it!

Mark Ellis

Southwest Portland

Black leaders should

act more like leaders

The Rev. Greg Raines and Pastors LeRoy Haynes Jr. and Roy Tate ought to be ashamed of themselves (Pastors lament motel shooting, March 12).

To say that the Portland police are likely to shoot and kill them for having a broken taillight is absurd and irresponsible. What kind of message are you sending your black children?

I've lived in Portland for 54 years and have never heard of such a thing. This is not Alabama, and it's not 1960.

It seems to me you ought to have a little concern that this child was being twisted like an accordion, and shaken, and thrown across the room against the motel wall. Byron Hammick Jr. was full of PCP and methamphetamine.

Come on pastors, the black community needs leaders and role models, not race card players.

Kelly McCormick

West Linn

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