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Letters to the Editor: 3-21-2013

TEACHERS OUTVOTED

The recent controversy around the common schedule in District 4J’s middle and high schools is a reflection of a bigger problem in the district. The process of centralization and standardization has been going on for several years but has dramatically accelerated recently under the new superintendent. 

Centralization of decision-making is gutting the site-based management system that has worked so well in Eugene in the past. The common schedule idea did not come from teachers or parents. It came from downtown, and under the guise of collaboration, teachers were used to rubber-stamp the decision already made by the superintendent. This year all middle school teachers on the common schedule task force voted against the common schedule proposal but were outvoted by the administrators on the committee.

Eugene schools have been known for creating different environments and focuses that best serve our diverse communities. Recently this tradition has been trampled on by the district’s desire to standardize everything. Standardization of curriculum, testing, school sizes and now schedules does not lead to innovation, creativity and love of learning that is so important in the educational process.

This new management model may work in the corporate world, but in education the products are not widgets but our children who are unique human beings with different needs and wants that teachers, through differentiation, try to reach. The one-size-fits-all education does not work.

This corporate top-down management model disempowers teachers, marginalizes students and parents and should be resisted by our community.

 Pete Mandrapa, Eugene

 

TIME TO CONSOLIDATE

Tony Corcoran was right on the mark (“Ways and Drones” column, 3/14) when he wrote about consolidating school districts. Here in Lane County we have 16 separate districts, each with its own superintendent and its own infrastructure. Is that really necessary? I know, I know, there’s the issue of local control, but really, are the needs of kids in Florence any different than the kids in Eugene, Springfield, Blue River or Cottage Grove? As we continue to search for ways to save money, now is the time to seriously consider a Lane County school district.

Robert Young, Lowell 

 

GLENWOOD FRENZY

Glenwood, along with Springfield and Eugene, is soon to be part of a wealthy developers’ feeding frenzy that the four pro-sprawl Lane County commissioners are seeking to subsidize with our tax dollars. They and their wealthy developer associates seem intent on inflating the student housing and hospitality industry bubbles. This outdated mode of thinking is based on the economy rebounding back to a yearly growth rate of 3 or 4 percent. With the increased scarcity and costs of natural resources and instability of our climate that is affecting the availability of water and agricultural goods, it is simply delusional.

One example, just a half mile southwest of Glenwood is the Moon Mountain development. You may recall this controversial development, south of the Laurel Hill neighborhood, was given approval in 2003-04. Currently 90 percent of the lots are vacant, one developer has gone bankrupt and a subsequent developer is suing the city over who’s paying to complete the infrastructure. How many taxpayer dollars were wasted to facilitate the new streets and utilities for this failed “green” development? How many taxpayer dollars will be wasted on subsidizing this and other “green” developments in Glenwood, Eugene and Springfield?

Shannon Wilson, Eugene

 

PRO SOCCER AT CIVIC 

It was so much fun back then, on a hot, beautiful summer evening, to walk to Civic Stadium, grab a bean burrito and a brewskie, sit in the old, rickety bleachers, view the magnificent south hills at sunset and cheer on the Eugene Emeralds. I would see old friends and meet new ones. While the Ems have moved to greener Duck pastures, the grand old stadium is still there! 

There’s at least one leader in our community that recognizes the value of preserving and renovating a historic venue in honor of a generation that had to endure the Great Depression and World War II, and to use it to have fun — for recreation, sports and music. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you the Lane United Football Club, a nonprofit organization that has researched the feasibility of and developed the business plan for sponsoring a “professional soccer” team for the greater Eugene-Springfield area. They are convinced it’s a definite go! Have you seen the wild fan support for the Portland Timbers? If we Laners want to have as much fun as Portlandia, we need to take the next step by supporting Lane United. Go to their website, laneunitedfc.org, and become a “charter member” or donate to help this dream come true. 

How wonderful it is to honor a generation who sacrificed so much for us by protecting and renovating a recreational venue they built in the heart of what is now the South Willamette District! 

Tim Bingham, Eugene

 

DEXTER CALLING

For those on the waiting list to get into the crowded Lane County Farmers Market [see cover story last week], the Dexter Lake Farmer’s Market is accepting new farmers and arts and craft vendors. Our market is gearing up for its fifth season starting Sunday, May 19, from noon until 3 pm at the Dexter State Recreation Area on Hwy. 58 on the lake. We have boating, swimming, disc golf, hiking, fishing and picnic areas. Our market is a great place for our community to gather and support local farmers and artisans without having to drive 15 miles into Eugene. In the last few years there have been quite a few neighborhood farmers markets and I suggest supporting these decentralized markets rather than grow the one large Lane County Farmers’ Market.

Pam Driscoll, Dexter

 

WHAT’S PROGRESSIVE?

Jack Dresser’s complaint [letters, 3/7] that EW betrayed its “progressive” credentials when it excluded two documentary films critical of Israel from its list of top documentaries raises the issue of what does it mean to be progressive when it comes to Israel’s conflict with secular Palestinians, radical Islamists such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad who are unequivocally bent on Israel’s elimination, and Iran.

There is nothing progressive about demonizing, as Dresser does, the only country in the Middle East that is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multicultural, pluralistic democracy (half of Israel’s population originated from the Middle East, 20 percent is Muslim, 120,000 are Ethiopian), that protects the rights of religious minorities, that does not harass its LGBT population, that protects freedom of speech and whose independent judiciary has sided with Palestinians against the government on issues such as preventive detention, interrogation techniques and seizure of land.

There is nothing progressive about holding Israel, as Dresser does, to a double standard that would deny it the right that any sovereign country has to protect its civilian population from the murderous designs of its enemies. The security fence separating Israelis and Palestinians that Dresser decries has practically eliminated suicide bombings and drastically reduced deaths of Israelis and foreign visitors. Security fences separate Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, Sunnis and Shias in Iraq and Indians and Kashmiris among dozens of places, with little or no controversy.

There is nothing progressive about promoting conspiracy theories by suggesting, as Dresser does, that EW is afraid of criticizing Israel because it has been intimidated by an all-powerful, pro-Israel lobby. EW has never been shy about promoting speakers or viewpoints that are profoundly critical of Israel.

What is progressive when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is promoting a two-state solution that establishes two states for two peoples.

Craig Weinerman, Chairman, Jewish Community Relations Council of Lane County

 

EXPLOITING ATHLETES

Despite its two closing losses, the Oregon men’s basketball team had a successful season beyond expectations. We all can empathize with the players for missing out on the Pac-12 Conference title that was within their grasp.

More important, they need sympathy for having their final exams preparation interfered with by an unjustified Pac-12 tournament. They are learning from excessive demands on them that higher education is based on bringing in TV money. This post-season tourney, and others like it nationwide, is the money-making scheme of TV networks which bribe schools with game fees. Like the many NCAA playoffs that follow, they exploit student athletes.

Schools choose to not pay players, using the lie that they have educational standards of amateurism to maintain.That’s a sham. So is the published statement by Athletics Director Rob Mullens regarding the “ongoing NCAA investigation” of Ducks football: “I think we do things the right way here. I think people in the industry absolutely know that.”

So now we hear it from the top. College sport is an industry. All it wants is more sports money at the expense of its players’ education — obvious when the Pac-12 tournament is played in Las Vegas.

George Beres, Eugene

 

FIGHTING A MODEST FEE

It’s fascinating to see “progressive liberals” (and genuinely decent people) Bonnie Bettman McCornack and Paul Nicholson join local conservatives in seeing to it that Eugene’s social service infrastructure is thoroughly dismantled. Eliminating Buckley House and cutting CAHOOTS in half, for instance, will ensure that emergency room and jail beds are even more inappropriately utilized for people who merely have nowhere else to be. Sacred Heart Hospital and Lane County Jail already are, to a large extent, nothing more than vastly more expensive versions of Buckley, which is cheaper to the public and more capable of actually addressing the needs of substance abusers than the ER or jail.

If McCornack and Nicholson and other “progressive liberals” are going to furiously fight a rather modest fee designed to save, amongst other things, the only shelter for homeless youth in town (Station 7), St. Vincent de Paul’s homeless camping program, etc., I think it’s only fair that they offer their own yards, garages, porches, etc., for people to sleep. Eugene is already littered with the bodies of aimless, poverty-stricken, emotionally distraught individuals this society produces in droves. Taking away the few services people can turn to for help is going to make it a lot worse. It’s rather appalling some supposed champions of the poor have found common cause with the most reactionary, regressive forces in our community to make that happen.

JP Scott, Eugene

 

THE CLOWN SPEAKS

On March 15 I stood outside of my wonderful place of employment nearby Kesey Square, taking an occasional pull from my cigarette wondering if Friday would ever end. I had lost my train of thought, which admittedly enough was about nothing more than a pint of beer and if St. Patricks day would leave me taking a sick day Monday morning. It was due to the ridiculously loud megaphone from across the street that I was diverting my much needed Monday morning battle plan. 

I was being enlightened by this very kind man in a clown suit standing in front of what appeared to be a protest — a sea of poorly planned signs and, of course, a drum circle, the most accredited part of any good protest. The clowned person on the megaphone began to explain to me the dangers of radiation, and with the words of wisdom instantly acknowledged with signs of “BAN NUKES” I knew I better heed an ear.

After listening for a few minutes, conviction plagues across my brain: “Why had I never understood that nuclear bombs and radiation were a bad thing?” I thought to myself, like a skeleton buried in a closet.

I had never imagined the implications of such phenomena that are so advanced that only a man wearing a clown suit with a megaphone could possibly bestow upon me. I decided to light myself another slice of cancer and stick around for a solution to all this radiation that is surely killing me.

The solution to how we slip the cork back onto the bottle of Pandora was a little bit awkward, I came to find out. I heard of banning all nuclear weapons and energy plants, I heard of informing of the evils and danger that no one seems to notice, the people who are being taken advantage of by living near any nuclear activity. The preacher did preach and oh-lordy did it seem bad. Real, real bad. I began to reiterate all the points and slogans in my head to remember the solution we we’re going to implement. 

I found that there were no solutions that weren’t riddled with naivety of the world around us with a family-size packet of shortsightedness. So I went back to work on my computer inside and couldn’t shake a few thoughts. I thought about how I really wanted a djembe drum. I thought about how the clown across the street looked similar to Wayne Gacy. I’m also Imagining how the loud people across the street enticed there presumably 4- to 7-year-old children to make signs for them. However, due to the years of people trying to evoke fear to get there point across, no matter how good or bad that point is, I didn’t once think about what I could do to stop radiation effects on another human being.

Jake Kalstad, Eugene

 

BLESSING ANIMALS

I was delighted to learn that the newly elected pope chose for himself the name of St. Francis of Assisi, generally known as patron saint of the animals. Indeed, Catholic and Anglican churches hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of Oct. 4. 

On one of his nature walks, Francis reportedly preached to the birds and is often portrayed with a bird in his hand. On another occasion, Francis concluded a pact with a ferocious wolf that was terrorizing local townsfolk, whereby the wolf would quit preying on the town’s sheep in exchange for being fed regularly. He even persuaded local dogs to stop harassing the wolf. He freed a rabbit from a trap, returned caught fish to their stream, and fed half-frozen bees in wintertime.

I hope that Pope Francis will inspire Catholics and all persons of goodwill to show non-human animals the respect and compassion they so richly deserve, particularly when it comes to subsidizing their abuse and slaughter for food at the checkout counter. Joining the Meatless Mondays trend may be a good start.

Elijah Hennison, Eugene

 

COKE WAR’S COST

Next year (2014) will be the 100th anniversary since cocaine was outlawed in the U.S. Is the government going to have a big centennial celebration to tell us all about its successes during the last 100 years? Perhaps someone could add up the total amount of money that has been diverted from education, social services, etc., to enforce this law. Anyone care to guess? 

Perhaps someone could convince National Geographic to transfer to the public domain all of its research and articles about the illegal use of cocaine. Or how about a worldwide effort to accomplish this — for the whole world to see?

Frank Skipton, Springfield