Don't eliminate forest education

I recently learned of a proposal on the YouCut website,, of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., to eliminate funding for the U.S. Forest Service's (USFS) conservation education programs. Unfortunately, the website does not allow me to vote down the proposal, and this is a wrong step for Congress to take.

One of USFS's conservation education signature programs is 'Smokey Bear,' a figure more recognized than Santa Claus and one of the most successful public awareness campaigns of our time. With Smokey's help, students of all ages recognize, 'Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires.' It seems that since fighting fires costs the government a great deal of money, spending money on education campaigns, like Smokey, saves the federal government a good bit more than he costs!

In addition to Smokey, USFS Conservation Education also supports programs like Project Learning Tree. I use PLT with my students, and it teaches them how to think, not what to think, about complex natural resource issues. PLT helps educators give students the tools to learn about our natural resources, all the while better preparing the students to succeed in science, technology, engineering and math.

The USFS conservation education programs are essential to help students learn about all of the resources their forests provide - clean air, clean water, a home for wildlife, a place to play and products that come from forests.

Myranda Doering


Who do we blame?

The housing bubble began to grow in 1999 with the ignorant repeal of the Glass Steagall Act. Newt Gingrich, republican, was the speaker of the house with the big bankers lobbying him.

Bill Clinton, democrat, was president with the liberals telling him how nice it would be if everybody would be able to get loans to buy homes. It is really pretty simple. Glass Steagall separated commercial banking from investment banking.

This mess we are in started right there with that stupid move. The world bankers were smarter than our elected politicians. Who in the hell are we going to vote for? Democrat? Republican? What's the difference?

Richard H. Crampton


Governor's hidden beliefs coming out

It seems just a little strange to me that the issue of the governor's personal objections to the death penalty were never explored in the last election. Why wasn't this discussed during the campaign?

I just wonder what Governor Stealth is hiding or waiting to reveal at the next opportune moment. I'm not going to get into the pros and cons of the issue, except to say DNA testing makes mistakes less likely and if it is not a deterrent, I guess prison itself isn't a deterrent, so that should go too!

Frank Grande


Help Wanted: Apply Within

For a state with high unemployment, Oregon turned heads this week when Gov. Kitzhaber announced a new job opening. It pays $280,000 a year. That's over five times the average household income in Oregon. Want to apply? Not so fast.

The committee is conducting a nationwide search, which means there is little faith that the position will go to an Oregonian.

With unprecedented new powers over our education system, this carpetbagger can reshape our state in ways we don't even know (including slashing teachers' jobs) because they will have what apparently no one in our state has: a proven, can-do vision.

'Proven' is a moving target in public policy. Many politicians and public servants tout proof of their leadership. But close inspection reveals nothing more than a correlation between their tenure and marginal upticks in statistics that are standardized in so many ways it's easy to cherry pick data.

There are hundreds of ways to measure what constitutes education. Student scores, graduation rates, curriculum deviations. It's a smorgasbord of data anyone can hide behind.

'Can-do' is a little fluffy. Anyone can do something. So there really isn't anything unique or admirable about that.

'Visionary' is quite a leap. Of course the candidate will have an impressive résumé. But is that vision? Or is it just a testament to a successful run up their personal professional ladder?

The proven model for successful education is funding the system. Go anywhere in the world and measure in any increments, and you'll see the connection between funding education and achieving success.

The can-do model is for voters to increase funding in education. We can do that, but we continue to choose not to.

We don't need a visionary to tell us what we need. We need voters to take action on funding the explicit needs that so many educators have already spelled out.

A bright graduate student, Google search, and a six-pack of Red Bull would be more likely to produce a recommendation for improving education in Oregon than a Chief Education Officer. And I'll bet that grad student would take the job for a lot less than $280,000 a year.

Sean Mulvihill


Groups should make sure bank accounts are safe

My letter is in response to the article in the Saturday, Dec. 3, issue of The Outlook, 'Parent group stung by alleged embezzlement,' by Mara Stine.

In regard to the article about the Gresham woman, Jenifer Lynn Sayles who is accused of stealing money from the PTO club, I would like to just state my 'bankers' opinion of helping future groups not suffer the same situation. When the bank of any PTO, PTA, or any other parent group wants information and signatures, it is for a very good reason. The bank tries very hard to protect itself AND the group from things like this happening.

Documentation derived from meetings for signer changes and or bank changes are a necessary part of ensuring that the proper people are authorized signers and have been given the authority to do so. PTO groups should never have just one signer on an account. There should always be multiple signers, and if the bank's computer systems will allow it, require two signatures on any check. There should never be a need to ask the bank to issue debit or credit cards on the account. Even though we live in a very electronic world, and most people are used to running their personal accounts differently, the good old paper check is the best way of a paper trail. Another way to help monitor PTO accounts is to have your bank issue multiple statements each month to two different people. If you have to pay extra for this service, I think it is very well worth the money to keep the books straight.

In gathering information about signers, it is a requirement of the bank to identify all the signers on the account and document them and their ID. The personal visit to the bank by the parent signers might seem like an inconvenience and an invasion of privacy, but in the long run can help the bank with certain 'red flags' that might arise about signers.

Even though we sometimes feel that all parents are 'just like us' and only doing what is best for our kids, there are situations that arise in people's lives that make them change and do things they never thought they could, and it is our kids who will suffer.

Please also never feel guilty about approaching your bank, if you are a signer, and are suspicious of something not quite right going on in the account and ASK questions. The damage might be much less if caught early.

Ken Reese


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