With only three exceptions, I have had no faith that Portland Public Schools is acting in the best interests of all the children affected by Dr. Phillips' proposal (Group to offer its own school plan, April 25).

The reasons for the reconfiguration changed to fit the environment at the time. There are many inconsistencies in the proposal and how it is being applied to individual schools. I do not trust that the true ethical, financial and educational effects of the reconfigurations have ever been fully considered.

The rush of public meetings does not fulfill the need for thoughtful discourse. And I am shocked that Portland Public Schools can put forth a proposal that will basically eliminate diversity in several Northeast Portland schools through the eighth grade.

There are countless options for change in school; meanwhile, reconfigurations that have been started by the district (for example, Jefferson) have not been successful. I am truly disgusted by the entire process for public input and reconfiguration. The attitude of PPS is: 'Do not bother us with your concerns, you are just resistant to change, and with our extensive background in educational matters, only we know what is best for your children.'

The three exceptions in this process are school board members Sonja Henning, Dan Ryan and Dilafruz Williams. I was truly impressed by Henning's Amendment Two presented at the board meeting May 4 that actually offered an opportunity for community discussion without a preordained outcome. Her actions then and previously, along with those of Ryan and Williams, show me which school board members actually listen to their community.

If we are going to make changes of this magnitude, does it not justify taking the time to make sure it is done right?

Nora Herrera

Northeast Portland

Blazing trail doesn'thave to scorch earth

As a woman lawyer in Oregon practicing employment law (for employers), I applaud Mitra Shahri's personal achievements Ñ her story is simply inspiring (Making causes out of cases, April 18).

But a 'scorched earth' policy of litigation and a view that lawsuits are a personal 'declaration of war' are not the norm in this state, nor should they be. I find it ironic that Shahri came to Oregon in search of a better quality of life yet apparently seeks to import the cantankerous and counterproductive style of practicing law in California.

Lawyers in this state often have to work with one another, and such aggressive tactics increase the already high costs of litigation, usually don't yield good results for clients, and ultimately leave a distaste for the judicial process for litigants.

This is particularly true in employment cases, where litigants' emotions are often raw and exposed. No question such tactics are sometimes necessary and can be effective in appropriate situations; however, it would change our system in Oregon for the worse to think every case should be advocated this way.

Settlements and jury verdicts in employment cases in Oregon may, in some cases, be smaller than those in California. This is primarily so because a jury verdict is a reflection of the community's values, and Oregon has a lower cost of living.

The article seemed to imply that until Shahri came to Portland four years ago, women lawyers in Oregon generally were not effective, and those who were downplayed the fact that they were women.

While some vestiges of gender discrimination in Oregon's legal community remain, there were many women lawyers before Shahri and many coming up in the ranks who are smart, aggressive and even attractive (yes, all at the same time). I work with eight of them.

More important, women (and male) lawyers in this state have been helping break the 'good ole boy' network (described by Greg Kafoury) for years. These women, such as Susan Hammer, Justice Betty Roberts, Justice Susan Leeson, Judge Anna Brown and Judge Virginia Linder have truly shaken up the legal community for the better. I welcome Shahri's efforts to do the same.

Michelle Kerin

Northeast Portland

What goes around comes around

It was with a great deal of amusement that I read Dwight Jaynes' column about Paul Allen and Mayor Tom Potter (On Sports, April 18).

If searching for hypocrisy's image I would suggest that Jaynes glance into a handy mirror. His statement about creating 'bad karma' certainly has come home to roost on his word processor.

Perhaps Potter's dismissal of Jaynes' beloved baseball is merely Jaynes' bad karma payback for his many angry and unprovoked attacks on the great sport of soccer that many of us love with the same passion he seems to have for baseball.

Gordon Mouser

retired varsity soccer coach, Centennial High School (1976-2000), Oregon High School Boys Coach of the Year (1994)


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