Want your child to learn? Turn off TV

Readers' Letters
by: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT Four-year-old Sarah Suprun plays with an alphabet puzzle at preschool. Just 11 of the 60 kindergartners at Earl Boyles this year came in with any preschool experience.The high-poverty neighborhood is underserved by Head Start, Early Head Start and other programs.

People have turned over most parental responsibilities to the government and the schools (Most Oregon kids don't get head start they need, Sept. 29).

Everyone wants to be a friend to their kid rather than a parent. It's too hard, I guess, to tell the child to get off the computer, turn off the TV and read a book or something. It's so much easier to just let the computer and TV be your baby sitter and then you can whine and complain that the schools are 'failing your child.'

But then again, this whole society doesn't believe in personal responsibility. It's so much easier to blame someone else.

Jim Bellah


Head Start makes no difference

From studies that the liberal colleges have done over the last 30 years on Head Start, they have found that by third grade, academically speaking, you cannot tell who had Head Start and who didn't (Most Oregon kids don't get head start they need, Sept. 29).

So in my book, it's just a glorified baby sitting-day care.

Clarence Leacel Smith

Southeast Portland

Principal works with what he has

Thanks for a very good article highlighting an excellent school and an outstanding administrator (The principal challenge, Oct. 27).

Paul Cook cares deeply about the Cleveland High School community. His commitment is a big part of what makes it a good school.

Lots of complainers and naysayers commenting (in the online forum). I wonder when they last set foot in a school? Do what the Trib did and come for a visit sometime. I will guarantee you there are no million-dollar cafeterias.

Lucy Willard

teacher, Cleveland High School

Southeast Portland

Shine spotlight on Marshall students

All Portland schools have been dealing with painful cuts and pretty much all the buildings are in poor repair. What extreme cuts and conditions has Cleveland High School had to deal with that makes it stand out among the other PPS high schools (The principal challenge, Oct. 27)? The article really doesn't show any.

Why wasn't this article written about Madison and Franklin, the two schools that have had to contend with the most challenging changes of any two high schools in PPS? These two schools are in the process of educating pretty much all the former Marshall High School kids. Franklin went from approximately 1,000 kids to 1,500 kids this year. Madison grew by about 250 kids.

The former Marshall kids are the ones that need the spotlight on them, and every bit of support their new schools and PPS can give. They are the ones most affected by PPS decisions.

And Cleveland? In the failed bond measure, the school was slated for $90 million to-the-studs renovation. And Marshall? The building was going to temporarily house the Cleveland kids during the remodel.

PPS, get your priorities straight.

Jacob Michaels

Southeast Portland

PPS needs to get green portables

More power to (PSU architecture professor) Sergio Palleroni and the others, but I wonder if they looked at the Evans-Harvard High Performance classroom that Kent Duffy designed for da Vinci middle school? It exemplifies a green learning space, has excellent state-of-the-art daylighting and received a LEED Platinum certification, the highest possible.

Why wasn't it mentioned in the article, 'Portable dangers' (Sept. 29)? Does Portland Public Schools plan to replicate it, or are they onto something else?

Blazer Homes can definitely build a green portable, they only need the go ahead from PPS. Nancy Bond, are you listening?

Mike O'Brien

North Portland

Tribune needs to get back to 'standards'

Ah, you're redefining language again, how liberal of you (Our Opinion • It's time to leave school law behind, Oct. 7).

Let's see, you say: 'This standard, which takes into account the differences of each child and each community, is much more difficult to measure, but it also is much more meaningful.'

You claim the 'standard' accounts for differences - then it's NOT a standard.

The definition of the word standard is something considered by an authority or by general consent as a basis of comparison; an approved model. Using your definition, 2 plus 2 doesn't necessarily equal 4; it will depend upon which differences we want to apply.

Gee, was that first 2 really a 2 or was it 2.4 or 1.8, because when we add that to the second 2 (assuming the second 2 is really a 2), then we don't come out with 4.

However, when I hire someone to tend the till, I want them to know and function so that $2 and $2 will require them to collect $4, not $3.75. The same holds true when it comes to writing a memo or letter: I don't want them using the letter 'u' in place of the word 'you'; but following your misguided concept of 'standard' is whatever that person thinks it is.

We have standards to measure things against - as in meets standards or exceeds or fails the standard - not as in, it might meet the standard but depends upon what standard the person doing the task defines as standard.

My goodness, you need to get your bearings back. Get your standards back in line.

Michael C. Wagoner


Candidates support property tax increases

Did your household income go up 5.4 percent this year? No. Well your Portland property taxes did (Squeezed taxes put agencies in a bind, Nov. 3).

Do you expect your household income to go up 14 percent next year? No. Well mayoral/council candidates Jefferson Smith, Eileen Brady, Charlie Hales, Amanda Fritz, Mary Nolan and Steve Novick support Portland property tax increases of 14 percent and more for 2012.

For the average Portland property taxpayer - November 2012 assessed value of $188,840 - the result would be a property tax rate of $25.34 per $1,000 of assessed value, a property tax increase of $677.

Smith, Brady, Hales, Fritz, Nolan and Novick's willingness to raise fees and taxes deliberately, ignore the harsh financial consequences on middle-, low-income and poor Portlanders. Their policies will force more Portland citizens to become in need of affordable housing and diminish the already limited disposable income of public housing clients.

To date, there is virtually no difference among how these council candidates will let water/sewer rates go through the roof - with the exception of Fritz, who actually voted to stop increases and let property taxes increase (bravo), as if those of us who don't and won't make council/mayoral salaries of $125,000-$150,000 can so blithely brush off never-ending mandatory rate and tax increases as the economically advantaged aspirants of these high paying jobs do.

In February, Smith, Brady, Hales, Fritz, Nolan and Novick made no public objection to the indefensibly generous public employee contract approved by the Portland City Council that included a 2 percent pay raise and cost-of-living increase, while making no change to PERS and health insurance contributions (city pays 95 percent health, 100 percent PERS), which means increasing total benefit costs.

A mere eight months later, Mayor Adams ordered preparations for across-the-board bureau budget cuts of up to 8 percent.

Smith, Brady, Hales, Fritz, Nolan and Novick are prepared to give away the store to Portland's public employees, allow water/sewer rates to dramatically increase and support substantial property tax increases.

If you are not prepared to pay for these profligate tax and spending policies, you better speak up now and tell Smith, Brady, Hales, Fritz, Nolan and Novick that you won't give them your money, your support and especially your vote if they don't exercise better judgment when it comes to taking and spending your money.

Richard Ellmyer

North Portland

Compression will reduce property taxes

Thank goodness for compression, which limits the ability of the county and the tax liberal voter base to price people out of their homes by ever increasing property taxes (Squeezed taxes put agencies in a bind, Nov. 3).

The last few years have seen an inflated 'real market value' (RMV) assigned by the county with resultant rising property taxes coupled with an automatic annual assessment value increase of 3 percent. This unique tax formula has unfairly raised property taxes on all home owners in Multnomah County, but especially on those in the higher taxed neighborhoods in the county.

This shortfall in tax revenue is no surprise since the county values all property on the first day of each new year. These declining property values resulting in compression have been known and predicted for many months. The problem is that spending and commitments to future long term spending has not been reduced proportionately to balance out the current reduction in property taxes. This can only be due to mismanagement of available tax dollars and budget projections.

The voters need to be aware that the property tax dollars are not unlimited. The county has now reached a point where the declining property values, the ever increasing assessment rate, and the unending list of new and larger tax levies has reached a critical mass where there just is not enough tax money on hand to fund every project that someone thinks up.

We can thank compression for a large part of our long overdue property tax reduction, making it more affordable to be a homeowner.

Ann Friday

Southwest Portland