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Group favors wealthy schools

The Portland Schools Foundation consistently serves the needs of the wealthier schools more than poor and minority schools (School-funding pros go for the bucks again, Jan. 10).

This isn't surprising since the foundation's board is run by wealthy parents and business interests. The problem, though, is that their stated mission is to mobilize 'ideas, leadership, political support, and money necessary to ensure a first-rate education for every child, in every public school, in every Portland neighborhood.'

Many people contribute to the foundation thinking that their money will help create equitable schools across the district. But with the exception of a few favorite poor schools such as John Ball Elementary (soon to be rebuilt at New Columbia), the foundation has been much more effective at increasing the funding gap between schools than it has at providing equitable resources for schools, or decreasing the 'achievement gap' between white and minority children.

Don't take my word for it: Look at the data showing how foundation grant money has been distributed since its inception in 1995. The foundation's excuse for the inequitable grant distribution is that some schools just don't apply for the money. But the foundation has repeatedly refused to offer workshops to parents in less wealthy neighborhoods to inform them about the grants that are available or how to apply for them.

Nicole Breedlove

North Portland

Keep in mind schooladvocate's day job

In a recent article, Portland Schools Foundation board member Julia Brim-Edwards was listed among a number of school advocates who are looking for new ways to adequately fund our schools (School-funding pros go for the bucks again, Jan. 10).

A recent Oregonian article referred to Brim-Edwards' work with the parent volunteer group Help Out Public Education, which hopes to replace the expiring Multnomah County income tax with a Portland income tax dedicated to school funding (Linn: Time's up for income tax, Dec. 13).

While Brim-Edwards is a former Portland Public Schools board member and co-chairwoman, she is currently a corporate lobbyist, not a school advocate. She recently worked on a bill (SB 887, now state law) that will exempt her employer, Beaverton-based Nike Inc., from millions of dollars of property taxes until 2040. This is money that is sorely needed for our underfunded schools.

HOPE and the Portland Schools Foundation need to look to the community, not corporate lobbyists, for leadership on school funding issues.

Ken Cropper

Northeast Portland

Childless people have stake in schools

Letter writer Michael Manella finds it unfair that adults without children should have to pay taxes to support public schools (Parents should pay most of schools' cost, Dec. 30). A moment's reflection shows that free public education benefits the child, not the parent.

Our society grants all children, regardless of socioeconomic background, the right to a basic education. Later, when they grow up and get jobs, these former children all pay taxes to support a new generation of students. In addition, all adults reap the benefits of living in a society with an educated work force, and the high standard of living that that work force makes possible. The system is fair.

Manella even demands to know why his dog and cat do not enjoy an equal right to public support with human boys and girls. Can he be serious? Here are some reasons, Mr. Manella:

• Because however precious they may be to you, they are not of value to society;

• Because they will not one day work at jobs that make a vital contribution to the economy;

• Because they will not one day pay taxes to support benefits for other cats and dogs; and

• Because they are not people.

Thomas Luckett

Southwest Portland

Many cyclists areoblivious to safety

The story of the four unfortunate bikers killed in Portland streets during 2005 reminds me of a letter I wrote to former Mayor Vera Katz in regard to this growing hazard (For 4 cyclists, life's ride ended in a flash, Dec. 30). I received no answer from the mayor's office.

After World War II, I bicycled extensively in various regions of Europe where public transportation was slow in returning. Having ridden those roads, I was shocked by Portland bikers who for the most part disregarded our prevailing traffic rules and did little in defensive biking, even sailing down the streets after dark without a light and reflector.

I told the mayor that I was stopped by two Ñ not one Ñ police officers in the well-lit streets of Bremen, Germany, because I rode my bike without a light when my bulb burned out. On this occasion I was spared a fine, but I was summoned to attend a traffic safety course at the police headquarters.

We ought to emulate a little 'Teutonic thoroughness.'

John Zalas

Southeast Portland

Tram could bea boon to tourism

The great tram controversy raging in Portland causes one to wonder if the same arguments were present when trams were built in other places.

Most of the ones we are familiar with were probably privately built and designed to enable tourists to view some fantastic panorama for a nominal fee. Those at Wallowa Lake; Mount Hood; Palm Springs, Calif.; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Switzerland's Mount Pilatus all fit this description.

I've often wondered why nobody has attempted to build a tram from Rooster Rock State Park to Vista House. The view of the gorge is fantastic and one that many traveling tourists would pay for. It would make that view available to many more people.

We don't do nearly enough to showcase our state's beautiful scenic attractions. Will Oregon Health & Science University allow the public to ride the new tram? The view would be unique and different from anything presently available.

Bruce Hamilton

Milwaukie

Raw-milk ban is a Big Brother move

With regard to the state's position on raw milk, I'm very disturbed by yet another choice that is being taken away by our Big Brother government (Ruling steams raw milk farmer, Dec. 27).

I'm a sufferer of rheumatoid arthritis who benefits from the nutrient-dense, but easy to digest, milk that is in raw form. Pasteurized and/or homogenized milk makes my suffering worse; raw milk does not. Of note, rheumatoid arthritis is an immune system dysfunction, yet as far as I know, even with a weakened immune system, I've never died from E. coli.

With the state's new ruling banning the sale of raw milk, I no longer can make a choice for myself regarding my own health.

If the government wants to put warning labels on raw products (and they better start doing it for raw veggies, too, because they're often covered with E. coli), that's fine by me, but leave the ultimate choice to me.

Matthew Featherston

Northeast Portland