LETTERS: Don't let funding evaporate for outdoor school experience
This past midterm election, Oregonians passed a bit of nostalgic legislation when we passed Measure 99, the measure securing $22 million a year from our state's lottery budget to fund a week-long outdoor school experience for every fifth- and sixth-grader in Oregon.
Unfortunately, this vote was made before the general public was made aware of the state's dismal budget for the upcoming fiscal year. As state departments are forced to turn their pockets inside out and shake for loose change, funds allocated for educational programs and grants have historically bitten the bullet. It's my wish to see the fund for outdoor school kept intact.
Let's not forget what led to passing this measure in the first place: We know outdoor school has a positive
effect on the youths in our state. Fifth- and sixth-grade students get the opportunity to have a camping experience — many of them for the first time in their young lives — alongside their classmates as well as students from other schools with whom they would almost certainly never interacted otherwise.
High school student leaders learn invaluable job and life skills as well as gaining lots of invaluable volunteer experience. They are offered exclusive access to scholarship funds and can be awarded college credit for their experience.
And most importantly, we foster in our younger generations an appreciation for the beauty of our state's natural condition as well as a feeling of stewardship over our natural places.
Saying nothing is saying something
One in five eighth-graders admits to being bullied in some fashion. This number is even higher among non-white students, those perceived as a part of the LGBTQ community, students with visible disabilities and students deemed overweight.
The aftermath of bullying is shown by an exponential rate of suicide by those who are bulldozed — in comparison to, perhaps, when current grade school bullying victims' parents were in school. Bully victims are between 2-to-9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University.
Bullies are smart. They know where teachers and other adults are most of the time. As a result, bullying frequently happens when adults aren't around to witness it. This means that a very important piece to this dynamic is heavily relied upon to prevent, and intervene when bullying occurs — bystanders.
The grave consequences of being bullied have materialized before many of our eyes — not as the bully or the bullied — but as an onlooker. Many do not intervene out of fear from the bully, of what peers will think of them, and doubt in their intervention success probabilities.
Being cognizant of harassment and choosing to be silent actually produces the antithesis of what your silence hopes to accomplish. By electing reticence you're also displaying your approval of bullying behavior. Your preference for muteness confesses more than does your willingness to pick up the horse that is being kicked while already down.