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Readers' letters: Campaign disappoints voters of all stripes

Jim Redden’s front-page article on voter unease (Duh! Poll says most voters unhappy, Nov. 22) was particularly on the mark with the presidential election.

Taking nothing away from the president’s oratorical skills and his savvy team, this was a lesser-of-two-evils choice with many 2008 supporters less than enthusiastic this time.

I am one of those, and after much agonizing, ended up voting Pacific Green (which is partly a luxury afforded by living in a blue state).

I hope President Obama finds his feet and stands up for progressive values, by cutting the bloated, dated Pentagon budget, scuttling the insane Keystone XL pipeline, pushing hard for infrastructure jobs and respecting, not harassing, government whistleblowers.

I won’t be holding my breath, though.

Bret Rausenbush

Northeast Portland

Volunteer in schools to help students

Education is one of the biggest problems our city and nation faces today. I believe that education is underfunded and often turned a blind eye to by politicians and the general public. Narrowly avoiding a budget crisis last school year, it’s very unlikely we will continue to be that fortunate.

I am in seventh grade, and this year we are not able to have our direct writing assessment. Our full-time music teacher got cut as well and the program now leaves much to be desired.

It’s sad to think that PPS is “lucky” to have no arts whatsoever in most of our schools plus underpaid and overworked teachers and staff.

By donating and volunteering at your neighborhood elementary, middle or high school, you help more than just the kids, but the whole community. I believe that great schools lead to a safer, friendlier and more attractive city.

Every child deserves a future and by donating $10 or volunteering for an hour or two, you could help change a child’s life.

Alisa Folen

Northeast Portland

ESL a disaster in high schools

Recent stories on Portland Public Schools’ English as a Second Language program were timely and important (Teacher slams ESL ‘pullout’ schedule, Nov. 8). However, they neglected to address perhaps PPS’s greatest mistake: that of the one-size-fits-all policy of mainstreaming all ESL students regardless of proficiency in English.

After serving for six years as a volunteer tutor of ESL students at Cleveland High School, I can say this policy is an utter failure. While many students who were adequately educated in their home countries can and do succeed in mainstream classes, Portland also has a large population of students who arrive here from refugee camps who not only are illiterate in their own languages but can barely add or subtract. Nevertheless, they are required to take classes in algebra, geometry, science, astronomy, history and senior English.

They cannot read the texts, they cannot understand the teacher. They cannot write. They do not have the vocabulary to comprehend, let alone legitimately pass these classes, although many are passed solely out of compassion.

Teachers cannot possibly provide the necessary attention, in spite of additional training and buzz words like “sheltered instruction.”

It is not discrimination to offer these students support classes in major subjects until they are ready to be mainstreamed. It is discrimination to force them to fail. It is discrimination to place them in classes for which they are totally unprepared and leading them to question their own intelligence.

PPS’s ESL program at the high school level is in shambles and to allow this policy to continue is nothing short of criminal.

Steve Levy

Southwest Portland

How much is enough for us to pay?

I will preface this letter by letting you know I am a lifelong resident of Multnomah County, 55 years and counting. I awoke this morning disgruntled, disappointed and certainly lighter in the pocket with the passage of the arts, libraries and school measures (Tribune election coverage, Nov. 8).

These, mind you, are in addition to an already increased property tax bill received this month as well as increases in water, sewer and garbage rates.

While I believe education, music and art are important part of a well-rounded society, I take exception to it almost always falling squarely on the shoulders of homeowners. A lot of us have worked very hard to keep our homes, raise a family and pay our bills on time. It is getting harder by the day, especially in Multnomah County where the mantra seems to be, “We can afford it.”

I also feel bad for those homeowners who are on a fixed income as they will see their tax obligation rise.

My dear father Warren, who passed away this past March, had a saying that rings oh so true in my ears today: “Do you know how much is enough? Just a little bit more.”

I have now come to the conclusion that no matter how much we pay Multnomah County and/or the city of Portland, they will never have enough of our money.

Paul W. Hansen

Northeast Portland