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School funding tax too big a load

Stable and adequate funding for public schools is an unattainable utopia, since it often requires continually increasing taxes (District must sell tax to nonparents, May 9). That creates a hardship for many elderly taxpayers on limited incomes. Other taxpayers also have a hard time shouldering the tax burden for schools; most laid-off workers, studies show, suffer sharply lower incomes if they're re-employed.

Schoolchildren would benefit from better control over Oregon's outsized teacher salaries and benefits. Numerous studies exist to provide objective numerical data on Oregon teacher salaries and public employee retirements.

The Public Employee Retirement System Web site is an excellent source, and the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers have published comparative state-by-state statistics.

There are richer and poorer states than Oregon, but I know of none that does obviously worse in terms of education per taxpayer dollar. The Portland Public Schools system exists in a highly educated city. The system should be one of the world's exemplars of breakthrough advances in education efficiency and productivity. It is not.

Marvin McConoughey

Tiger Island (south of Corvallis)

Unwilling taxpayers are dropping the ball

Most of the voters within public school districts directly benefited from public education, for themselves, their children or both (District must sell tax to nonparents, May 9).

Can they honestly say that their or their children's education was not worth the investment Ñ also made by the elderly and people without children? Can they believe that children today do not deserve the same educational opportunity?

There is a litany of reasons why public school financing and expenditure is not what it was a generation or two ago. But a public that is not willing to give to future generations what it once received is shortsighted and perhaps just mean-spirited.

Jane McFarland

Northeast Portland

Oregon drivers create trouble for all

That there are more serious vehicle crashes in Portland than in Seattle doesn't surprise me (Crash stats stump transit experts, May 9).

When I moved to Vancouver, Wash., from Portland two years ago, I realized right away that Portland has a much higher percentage of rude, aggressive and careless drivers than does Washington.

In Vancouver, when I see a driver that is rude or aggressive, nine times out of 10 the vehicle has Oregon plates.

David Edstrom

Vancouver, Wash.

Smoke alarms help to prevent deaths

In the first 17 days of March, Portland Fire & Rescue responded to 26 residential fires. One person died in the fires. Between January and March 17, four people died in local fires Ñ that's as many fire-related fatalities as we usually have in a 12-month period.

Nationally, nearly 140 people died in residential fires from March 1 through March 17, and a startling 43 of these deaths occurred over a three-day period, including nine people in a home without a working smoke alarm. Fires that kill are a sad reality of each and every day, but this is a spike that troubles fire safety professionals.

There is no single more important item in any household than a working smoke alarm. Nearly one-third of residential fires and two-fifths of residential fatalities occur in homes with no smoke alarms.

Place a smoke alarm (with a 10-year battery and a 'hush' feature) on every level of your home and outside the bedrooms. If you keep your bedroom doors closed, place a smoke alarm inside each bedroom. Check the batteries once a month to make sure the alarm works.

Get more information on smoke alarms and fire safety by visiting www.portlandonline.com/fire or by visiting the U.S. Fire Administration Web site at www.usfa.fema.gov.

Scott G. Edwards

Portland Fire & Rescue deputy chief fire marshal

Southeast Portland