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Schools need teacher creativity

by: L.E. BASKOW, Students from Portland’s Atkinson Elementary School wave goodbye from the back of their bus as they leave the Oregon state Capitol following a rally last month, organized by the education advocacy group Stand for Children.

Thanks to Tom Olson for his thoughtful opinion on school funding (Schools need funding overhaul, Two Views, Mar. 5.) With his 12 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and 45 years teaching and administering schools, he certainly has the credentials to support his opinion.

I took and passed the standard tests needed to get into graduate teaching programs. Teaching seemed a natural step after my experience coaching local teams. I interviewed at Portland State University, University of Portland, George Fox University, Lewis and Clark College and a few others. When I wasn't accepted, I asked why.

Here's what I learned: Graduate teaching programs don't want an enthusiastic personality whose goal is keeping students on track by using their classroom as a success magnet for other subjects. What they want is a collaborative, passive person to nurture and comfort.

Ask yourself this: How many talented teachers leave the state because they see a system that doesn't reward talent, that doesn't encourage teaching arts, that runs through principals and superintendents who bring in the next new thing before using their job as a stepping stone. How many retired teachers are happy with how they left the profession? How many current teachers hate being forced to teach students how to take a test instead of how to learn?

If you ask an educational career counselor where the money will be spent, you might hear the words 'special ed.' If special education is the field of choice for economic reasons, do you think teaching will suffer? Or will more examples of need for special ed teachers crop up?

Before spending more money on education, make sure who you want to benefit the most - the kids or the system.

David Gillaspie

Tigard

Divide enrollment to benefit students

If Mr. Kremer is correct and Oregonians spend more than $10,000 per student per year to educate our children, why don't we simply divide enrollment into 10 student increments and get class sizes that would benefit all the students (Schools' hands tied in cutting, Two Views, Mar. 5)?

For $100,000 per school year, we should be able to afford to pay teachers $50,000 per year (including benefits) to teach 10 students per class, with plenty of time for one-on-one attention. The remaining $50,000 should cover the ancillary costs of running a school: physical plant, supplies, a whistle for recess. As the mother of a child entering kindergarten this fall, I'm absolutely sure that I could join with nine other parents and give all ten of our children a superior education, including art, music, physical education, and probably a hot lunch every day for nine months per year for that $100,000. And there wouldn't be a need for all those in-service days either.

Dorothy A. McGregor

Milwaukie

Charter schools are wave of the future

Regarding the opinion 'Schools' hands tied in cutting' (Two Views, Mar. 5), Rob Kremer succinctly shows the money pit of Oregon's public school crisis and his final statements hint that Oregon's future could easily be virtual schooling.

I am a first-year Connections Academy parent, one of the schools recommended by Mr. Kremer.

Oregon Senate Bill 767, a bill that would place limitations on online charter schools in Oregon, is funded by unions and will stifle charter schools in our state and shut down virtual charter schools. Virtual charter schools in Oregon have roughly 4,000 students enrolled and are educating kids at about half the cost to the state of regular public schools.

The bottom line is that teachers' unions will lose their piece of the pie.

I am pro-union. Unions were started for the purpose of advocating for the employees that didn't have a voice or choices. But in this situation, unions are a political entity that is exhausting state funding for public schools and stifling charter schools that could be the solution.

Charter schools, including virtual charter schools, are the wave of the future and SB 767 will shut choices for public schools for the future of Oregonian children. Oregonians, please let your representative know that you want public school choices and wiser spending of your public education tax dollar.

Anne Marie Gurney

Northeast Portland

Castle could attract tourists

I actually think that if the city can get a good price on moving the structure, then it should do it (City is wary of the Castle on the Hill, Mar. 12). Not only would it provide jobs for the excavating, moving and rehabbing companies, but it would create long-term jobs and income for Portland Parks and Recreation if it opened it up to the public.

Having a castle could be a major tourist attraction and will generate income.

Katie Schawaroch

Southeast Portland

Historical homes need appreciation

I visited the Canterbury Castle seven years ago when it was listed on the Historical Homes list in The Oregonian. I'd like to see this whimsical, imaginative home preserved - not just because most Portland homes lack a drawbridge and a Spanish-tiled interior accented with intricate wrought iron, but because of its extraordinary beauty (City is wary of the Castle on the Hill, Mar. 12).

The George Benson house was moved to the west side of the Park Blocks of Portland State University and I see many people sitting on the park's benches, enthralled by the architecture, the love with which the home was restored and wonderment at how it was moved. And its beauty.

As an historical home, the Canterbury Castle deserves no less. I see an increasing appreciation among architects and builders for reasonably priced homes of beauty.

'May you always walk in beauty,' from the Navajo Blessing Way Prayer, acknowledges that our lives are enriched by the aesthetically pleasing.

BetteLynn Johnson

Southwest Portland

Check again the MLS dictates

In response to the editorial regarding the PGE Park/Major League Soccer deal (Move cautiously on stadium deal, Insight, Mar. 19), I'd like to bring to your attention one critical piece of information that essentially makes the rest of the debate over this deal irrelevant.

That information has to do with the fact that there are no MLS standards for soccer-specific venues.

When I first read the city's task force report - and found nothing on soccer-specific venue criteria in that document - I then read every other MLS-related document posted on the city's Web site and found nothing there either. Then I started Googling, and found a definition of 'soccer-specific' on Wikipedia, but the only written, objective standard is that the field must be a certain size. There were no other standards listed, and basically the term 'soccer-specific' is little more than a marketing term coined by an MLS team owner referring to a vague wish list of things that they'd like to have. I went through the MLS's official site, plus articles and reports on other soccer venues, and ultimately found nothing more on soccer-specific venue criteria.

So, with the current PGE Park/MLS soccer deal hinging entirely on the meaning of 'soccer-specific,' it's pretty obvious that the complete lack of MLS standards is the real story here. And that opens the door for renegotiating the current deal, not having to relocate the Beavers, and saving at least $55 million and a lot of grief.

I support Major League Soccer coming to Portland, but not without some fact-checking and candor, along with a better deal.

Peter Apanel

Southeast Portland