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Readers' Letters: Poverty rate affects students' test scores

If only the Common Core State Standards had been “developed from the bottom up” and “shaped by input from teachers, schools administrators, parents and education experts” as your editorial (Common Core, uncommon solutions, Oct. 31) reported, they might be a valuable factor in educating America’s children and adolescents.

Unfortunately, the English language arts standards were developed by a few people working for private profit-making companies and approved by a 50-person group that had only five teachers. As a result, those standards are far removed from the realities of school operation and students’ lives. They are an elitist view of what schooling should be, not based on research or experience and never field-tested.

Even the basic assumption that the United States lags behind many other countries on international test scores is problematic. Statisticians who have studied the international test scores find that American students from high socio-economic areas do just as well as their peers abroad. It is the high rate of poverty in our country that pulls the scores down.

Will the standards make a difference in our schools? Probably. But will that difference be a better education for all or just another way to hold back disadvantaged children and push out more high school students who find nothing meaningful in memorization and test after test?

Joanne Yatvin

Southwest Portland

Scrutiny of LEED’s timber stance is due

Your story (Clash of the Green Giants, Oct. 24) failed to mention one key reason many in the forest products industry are critical of LEED — it often favors timber harvested abroad more than American lumber. The Forest Stewardship Council, the program given preference by LEED, certifies 90 percent of its land outside the United States.

LEED standards can incentivize the use of foreign wood in American building projects. According to the World Growth Institute, “Most FSC timber available in the U.S. is imported.” Both FSC and governments in Indonesia, China and Russia hold landowners to lower standards than in the U.S.

We should not embrace a framework that claims timber procured from forests in these nations is more durable and ecologically sound than Oregon and American wood.

Family woodland owners, foresters and forest operators who harvest timber here must obey local ordinances and the best management practices detailed in the Oregon Forest Practices Act and its rules. Many family woodland owners also comply with the high standards of the certification program administered by the American Tree Farm System. Forest industry lands are managed under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

At the very least, any rating system or building code seeking to promote sustainability should at the very least recognize the timber described above, if it already accommodates foreign lumber.

The increased scrutiny brought upon LEED and its preferences for FSC timber is long overdue, and should be applauded by those concerned about the forest-based economy and sustainability.

Scott Hayes

Oregon Small Woodlands Association president,

Arbor House Tree Farm owner

Forest Grove