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Readers' Letters: 'Conversation' no solution to PPS troubles

Courageous Conversations has done nothing but harm our community (Want real ‘equity’? Cut PPS class size, guest column, Jan. 30). It has not closed the achievement gap — it’s gotten worse after Courageous

Conversations.

Portland Public Schools Superintendent Carole Smith gets awards for spending money on Courageous Conversations. So, she throws good money after bad. People are shamed for their skin color. How does this help close the gap?

I believe Courageous Conversations promotes racism, yet administrators enjoy these shaming vacations on the PPS dime while students of color suffer.

PPS is incapable of common sense solutions. We need true leadership. We need leaders who care about our students and will take the time and sense to use proven solutions like smaller class sizes for all students.

Kim Sordyl

Northwest Portland

Schools should better use their resources

Thank you Sarah Levy for bringing up this subject (Want real ‘equity’? Cut PPS class size, guest column, Jan. 30). I agree 100 percent that smaller class sizes and adding wrap-around services (especially targeting schools like Jefferson) would be a better use of resources. I would add to this that some upper administration in Portland Public Schools could be cut to help fund this.

Rick Belliveau

Northeast Portland

OHSU bond is investment in future

The Oregon Legislature should support the Oregon Health & Science University

request for the $200 million bond measure to finance new facilities for the Knight Cancer Challenge. It’s an investment in

ourselves.

It’s a small request when you calculate who will benefit from this research. All Oregonians, nearly 4 million strong, will be the ultimate beneficiaries. It’s a mere $50 per person investment. This campaign to raise $500 million in matching funds will mean $1 billion toward finding a cure for cancer that affects all Oregonians directly or indirectly. If the Legislature passes this request, it will mean that OHSU will raise $1.2 billion in total.

It is not about just the rich writing checks in support of Penny and Phil Knight’s generous gift of $500 million. We Oregonians should do our part to support this campaign. The $200 million would not take away from any other spending priority. It would not take away money for education, health care or any other needed and necessary state funding priority. It is a bond measure that would be paid back over a long period of time without raising taxes.

It is the right priority for us to invest in cancer research and support OHSU, to make our research university to become a world-class cancer research center. Support this measure — it is for all of us. Long live

Oregonians.

Sho Dozono

Southwest Portland

Those trees really aren’t ‘free’

I enjoyed the article by Peter Korn about the program in Portland to offer free trees to be planted in parking strips (Psst. Hey buddy, want a free tree?, Jan. 23). More street trees certainly make Portland a more livable city.

It does seem, however, that Friends of Trees and Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services are working at cross purposes to the policies of its Department of Transportation, which charges homeowners a fee to pick up leaves from the very same trees that other city programs are promoting. That, as well as the requirement to get a permit in order to prune those same trees, may explain to Jennifer Karps, the Urban Forest Program canopy coordinator, why only 7 percent of those offered a free trip accepted — they’re not really free.

Dick Slawson

Northeast Portland

Benson points way to grad rate boost

Expanding access to Benson Tech’s graduation rate (82 percent) is the quickest way to improve Portland Public Schools’ abysmal 62 percent graduation rate and provide students paid apprenticeships to high-demand STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) jobs (Benson opens its entry just a crack, Jan. 30).

PPS should fully lift the cap for fall 2014 by relocating four alternative programs subleasing space within Benson, including: the Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center for 18- to 24-year-olds; Reconnections for fifth year and older students; Alliance High School for 16- to 20-year-olds (21 percent graduation rate); and Portland International Academy ($580,000 for six full-time staff to serve only eight students). That would reclaim instructional space and funding for computer science, engineering and health science programs. And why is PPS running a drug rehab program for 18- to 24-year-old addicts where students want to study

engineering?

Lainie Block Wilker

Northeast Portland

Oppose Trans-Pacific Partnership folly

At a recent town hall on trade issues, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden expressed his support for the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership despite his concerns over “transparency” with the negotiations. Wyden’s concerns are understandable, since he and his staff were initially refused access to TPP documents despite his being chairman of the Senate subcommittee on International Trade. That Congress is not privy to these negotiations should come as no surprise since the privileged “stakeholders” in the TPP negotiations are large multinational corporations, hordes of special interest groups, and key government officials.

It has been revealed that only five of the 29 chapters of the TPP actually deal with trade. The others deal with harmonizing laws and regulations between the member nations in a host of areas. This amounts to the same sort of economic integration seen in Europe, which preceded the political merging to form the European Union.

As for being a boon to Oregon’s economy, surely the senator knows better. We have witnessed the same deceptive promises through the North American Free Trade Agreement. When NAFTA was passed through Congress in 1993, the United States had a trade surplus with Mexico of $1.6 billion. By 2010, there was a trade deficit with Mexico of $61.6 billion.

That is a dramatic loss of cash, jobs, and industry leaving the country, and the TPP will surely bring much more of the same. All the more reason why everyone should contact their congressional representatives and demand they unconditionally oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Allan Page

Gresham

Report shows impact of pay inequality

Recently the Oregon Council on Civil Rights released a pay inequality report finding what too many women and families already know to be true: Women are not receiving equal pay for equal work, and their economic security is suffering as a result.

The report, which was three years in the making, cites research by the American Association of University Women that shows Oregon women working full time, year round, earn an average of 79 cents compared to what men earn.

Oregon’s pay gap is not just an issue for women. With a record number of women in the work force and four in 10 women serving as the primary or sole breadwinner for their families, it is essential that women bring home the pay they have rightfully earned.

I am proud of AAUW’s efforts to advocate for legislation that would help to close the gender pay gap and allow workers to earn paid sick days (another barrier to equity identified by the council’s report). We have been collecting signatures in support of these issues for months, and we look forward to delivering the signatures to the Legislature at our legislative advocacy day on Feb. 21.

The Oregon Legislature commissioned this report from the Council on Civil Rights. Now it’s time for them to implement the policy recommendations in order to dismantle barriers to workplace equality and protect the health of Oregon’s families and economy as a whole.

Mardy Stevens

AAUW of Oregon Program vice president

Gresham