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Too soon to judge day-labor site

The article, 'Day-labor site falls down on the job,' (July 24) about the new Portland day-labor center was both pre-emptively dismissive and irresponsibly reported.

It narrowly defines the success of the center by how many workers still wait on the corner. This is a vast oversimplification of what the center provides for the entire community.

The article makes no mention of the vast abuses workers risk when looking for work on the corner, such as physical harm and contractors who refuse to pay them at the day's end.

Nor does it acknowledge the benefits to contractors, who can come to the center looking for a particular type of skilled worker without having to negotiate the somewhat chaotic environment of the corner.

Furthermore, your article implicitly assumes that the center only benefits undocumented workers. The center provides all workers with safety and dignity, making it a space that invites documented workers who are struggling in a difficult economic time. Many of the workers at the center who have adequate documentation would not wait for work on the corner because of the risks involved.

The center has been open for only seven weeks. The corner has existed for years. Before you continue your irresponsible series on the center's failure, the Portland Tribune must challenge its pre-emptive assumption that the hire site will inevitably fail and fairly report how it is benefiting the community as well.

Kendall Taggart

Southeast Portland

Expand proposed toll to include more users

Tolls to cover the costs of road repair and improvement in Portland seems one-sided. If the true reason for instituting tolls is for improvement, why not toll all areas of access to these corridors, such as the south end of Interstate 205, the tunnels and south I-5, as well as the new improved intersections planned for I-5 in Portland?

This is a government that wants to look good to their voters and punish those who support the state by way of an income tax. The burden needs to be shared by all who travel on these roads.

Tom Boozer

Vancouver, Wash.

Substitute teachers integral part of staff

Regarding Chris Fick's opinion piece 'Improving teaching time' (Insight, June 26), I spent six years as a substitute teacher.

Most subs are called with about an hour's notice. Often the caller will say, 'I know this isn't your endorsement, but we just need someone to sit in the classroom.' Regardless of how prepared a sub is to teach, the school staff looks at you just as a baby sitter.

At one time there were private workshops for substitute teachers to help them prepare for a classroom without lesson plans, but the workshops were too expensive and could not be used toward your license renewal.

I was an archaeologist in my earlier years, so I developed two archaeology lesson plans, complete with hands-on activities and a worksheet that I turn in to the regular classroom teacher. I never introduced myself as a sub - always as an archaeologist. I would have the students work in groups of three or four. One lesson was a 30-minute unit, the other was a 10-minute unit.

This was how I kept from being eaten alive by bored students.

I do feel school districts could better serve their students if they developed alternative lesson plans relating to the curriculum being taught during any term.

If all the components necessary to teach the unit were included, substitute teachers could become a valuable part of a given school's staff and - most importantly - students' education wouldn't be as disrupted by their teacher's absence.

Rose Case

Wilsonville