Its time for leaders to step up for schools


We may be a national joke, a teachable moment, a community in crisis, a bad example or just a school system with a legacy of bad luck and poor decisions. But the past doesn't have to dictate the future.

HOPE (Help Out Public Education) is an amazing grass-roots effort by concerned parents intent on not letting our school system fail our children (Parents take the 'less' out of hopeless, Feb. 14).

Now our local government, business community and school administrators need to have the same commitment to solving this crisis today and over the long term.

While progress and promises have been made to fund a full school year, avert a strike by teachers and keep class sizes down, our leaders must keep working to implement these solutions. Confidence in our schools has already been lost, and our children have felt the turmoil.

There are still tough decisions and negotiations ahead. Our students continue to be held to higher and higher standards, and we expect them to show problem-solving and analytical skills. The adults now need to set the example, do the assignments and exceed standards.

How our leaders solve this crisis will be the measurement I use for choosing my future elected officials. Please show our children, our community and the nation how a city can come back from the brink of disaster.

Lesley Kelley

Northwest Portland

Kids will remember when they're grown

Based on Portland Public Schools Superintendent Jim Scherzinger's recommendation, four, possibly six, Portland area schools eventually could be closed to help reduce the school budget deficit. What has the Portland school district come to? Our children are being punished and their futures compromised.

What is the solution? Is our school board doing all that it can do; are its members listening? Do they have our children's best interest at heart? Our children need and deserve quality, uncompromised education, and our teachers need and deserve to be supported as they deliver that education.

This is not just an issue for those with children. Everyone should be outraged about what is going on and stand up and let their voice be heard. Children are our future. They will be our future leaders and legislators; one day they will make decisions that will affect our lives. Good or bad, we will reap what we sow.

Chantell Fitz-Amado

Northeast Portland

It isn't school situation that'll scare off business

It seems our political leaders on the state, county and city level have forgotten the basic concept of what government is supposed to provide for its constituents: safety and infrastructure (Budget cuts cripple long arm of the law, March 4).

It's time to cut the millions of dollars going to support 'the arts,' so-called economic development programs that produce few jobs Ñ the Oregon Film Commission and other such programs that can be restarted when times are better.

And, it's time for city leaders, the school board and powerful unions to stop repeating the lie, 'If we don't tax and tax and tax some more for 'the kids' sake,' no business will want to move here.' The truth: What business would want to move to an area where crime has dramatically increased, in some cases by 76 percent, and felons thumb their noses at our legal system while robbing us blind?

David Ashton

Southeast Portland

PERS proponent may have other concerns

Wow! A reader could conclude that guest columnist and SEIU Local 503 Executive Director Leslie Frane thinks that fellow columnist and Cascade Policy Institute Chairman of the Board William Conerly is an 'extremist' for advocating the elimination of PERS in favor of a 401(k) retirement plan Ñ the type most American workers rely on for their tax-deferred retirement savings (Kulongoski should keep PERS promise, Insight, March 7). These 401(k) plans typically provide greater choice and more control to the workers over their retirement savings.

Maybe that's why Frane is against 401(k) plans Ñ less need for union bosses and less control over the rank and file for union bosses.

Matt Roehr

Southwest Portland

Story subject shares some views, but not others

As a subject of the Tribune article on state budget cuts to health care (Difficulties, even death, stalk needy, Feb. 4), I read with dismay and sadness the letter from Shirley Hudnut (Elderly, disabled, should get priority, Insight, Feb. 18).

At first glance, I thought Hudnut had spent too much time listening to those little boys of talk radio. But upon closer look, I saw much more. Unfortunately, she is one of millions of Americans who are victims of an HMO system whose priorities are profits, political contributions and only the most basic level of care to the sick.

As a disabled person living with AIDS, I, like Hudnut, am disgusted with the high cost of prescription drugs I must take to stay alive. Most anyone who is disabled and/or elderly can tell you that their health care costs are outrageous, but at the same time, they're grateful for that care. Hudnut might do well to curb her bias and work for legislation that requires drug companies to have at least a minimum level of social responsibility before they gouge state and local governments.

Hudnut also writes that the government should only help people who live a certain type of 'clean' life. The disabled and elderly communities are grateful that her opinions are not shared by the majority of our neighbors. Such views feed the stigmas that people in the disabled community have worked very hard to overcome.

Hudnut might be able to overcome her less-than-moral views if she were to visit a local bookstore or public library, where she could find great books on life, hope and compassion. And read them.

Bill Hancock

Northeast Portland