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Readers' Letters: Sheriff's right: Preschool fights crime

On behalf of the local business community, I’d like to echo Multnomah County Sheriff Daniel Staton’s call for high-quality preschool programs in Oregon (Quality preschool will reduce future crime rates, Dec. 12).

Quality preschool programs are essential for starting our kids out on the right path in life and for long-term, sustained economic growth. Not only will preschool wind up saving taxpayer dollars in reduced crime and incarceration costs, as Sheriff Staton mentioned — $77 million per year, with a profit of $15,000 for every child served — but it also will benefit our economy with a better-prepared future work force.

Currently, 32 percent of Oregon high school freshmen do not graduate on time. Of those that do graduate, only 29 percent met college readiness benchmarks on the ACT admissions test for all core areas tested: English, math, reading and science. Students are spending their K-12 years trying to catch up, and they are graduating high school without the skills necessary for college or career.

Research shows high-quality preschool can change these statistics. Children from high-quality programs have shown increases as high as 44 percent in graduation rates.

And the benefits continue. According to the business leaders group America’s Edge, children that attend quality preschool are four times more likely to earn a four-year degree by age 30 and earn 36 percent more as adults.

We have a unique opportunity to expand Oregon’s preschool programs with the Strong Start for America’s Children Act. This bipartisan legislation can be a turning point for our children, our state and our economy, and I urge our state congressional delegation to help make it a reality.

Candee Clark Jones

Portland

Give kids an early, strong start

Quality early learning programs not only lower crime rates but also have a considerable impact on our state’s businesses and economy (Quality preschool will reduce future crime rates, Dec. 12).

As a businessman, I know education is vital to creating a qualified workforce. Oregon students must be ready for college and career when they graduate. Unfortunately, we are not getting the job done, despite our state’s laudable goals.

The Oregon Education Investment Board’s “40-40-20 goal” seeks to make sure that by 2025 every Oregonian has achieved at least a high school diploma, 40 percent have earned a postsecondary degree and 40 percent have obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher. Implementing this goal is essential. According to America’s Edge, Oregon jobs requiring postsecondary education are expected to grow 40 percent faster than jobs for high school dropouts or graduates.

Yet, about 30 percent of Oregon high school students do not graduate on time. Among those who did graduate, only 29 percent of the class of 2012 met college readiness benchmarks on the ACT college admissions tests.

Problems begin even earlier: Only 33 percent of our eighth-graders are proficient in math and reading. Seventy percent of fourth-graders read below grade level and 63 percent are below grade level in math.

How do we change these statistics? High-quality early learning.

Children who participated in quality early care and education programs have shown increased rates of high school graduation, lower rates of enrollment in special education and higher lifetime earnings, compared to those not enrolled in such programs.

I urge our state congressional delegation to support the bipartisan legislation known as the Strong Start for America’s Children Act, which would establish a strong state-federal partnership for Oregon to expand and strengthen its quality preschool programs.

Michael Harper

State Farm Insurance, Former Portland Trail Blazer and Western Oregon University Foundation At-Large Board member

Portland

Lead in EV batteries fits green model

In responding to a previous article in the Tribune (Including fuel, EVs cost less, Sustainable Life, Nov. 14) that indicated that electric vehicles cost less to own and operate, letter writer Andrew Weisenberger (Tribune, Dec. 5) suggests that “the PC green movement” keeps “secret” ... “the heavy metals needed to make batteries and the toxic nature of mining, refining and storing the toxic metals ...” used for electric vehicle batteries such as those for the Nissan Leaf.

The fact is that electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries for power and the “heavy metal” lead-acid battery used for interior power in the Nissan Leaf is the same type of battery that Mr. Weisenberger has in his vehicle. Fortunately, the “PC green movement” and economic common sense has ensured that the lead in these batteries is recycled to well (above) the 90 percent level so that mining and refining costs and toxic impacts are minimized.

The attraction to buyers of electric and hybrid vehicles is not only the high reliability and reduced gasoline consumption in favor of electric power (particularly in oil-poor areas such as Oregon and Norway where Teslas are selling well), but also the design, which provides aerodynamically favorable low-drag coefficient (0.28 or less compared to 0.4 for a slab-front and rear SUV) and high starting torque for excellent performance and efficiency.

The era of buying vehicles designed to simply appeal to the “reptilian brain” rather than innovative design (and one is reminded of Walter Chrysler and his “Air Flow” design many decades ago, a genius ahead of his time) is over for all but a few.

Craig Stephens

Lake Oswego

House must act to shield all workers from bias

In workplaces across the country, federal law protects employees against discrimination based on a whole host of things — race, religion, sex, age and more. However, there’s a chasm where sexual orientation is concerned.

In the 33 states that don’t explicitly ban it, people can be fired or harassed for being gay or transgender. To ensure equal protection for all employees, the U.S. Senate just passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit discrimination against workers based on their sexual orientation. Small Business Majority’s opinion polling found the vast majority of small-business owners think we’re overdue for federal policies protecting all workers from discrimination. It’s good for business, it helps companies attract and retain talent, and it’s the right thing to do. In fact, the vast majority of them already thought it was illegal to fire someone for being gay or transgender.

Small-business employers believe in evaluating their employees based on their work ethic, regardless of sexual orientation. It’s time for the House of Representatives to follow the Senate’s lead and send the bill to the president’s desk so that all workers enjoy equal protection in the workplace.

Jarvez D. Hall

MBAOregon Outreach ManagerSmall Business Majority

North Portland

Photo reveals violent nature of the sport

I very much enjoy reading newspaper coverage of academic competitions and sports involving young people. It is good to see a new generation doing active, healthy and intelligent activities.

However, I was appalled and saddened by the football photo and caption on page B7 of the Nov. 21 issue. One student is excited about having made, as you term it, “a hard tackle” and the other is lying on the ground, apparently not going to move any time soon.

Football already is under heavy scrutiny because of head injuries. This picture and the caption do not show a sporting game; they depict violence which should be downplayed and discouraged.

Carol Laurich

Southwest Portland

McLemore’s story an inspiration to others

I was very much touched by Kerry Eggers’ interview with Cristin McLemore (McLemore’s biggest catch was his life, Nov. 21). I’m a fan of Oregon football since the early ‘80s, obviously a very different era than today. Looking back on his Oregon playing days, I always admired McLemore’s courage and drive, despite injury or adversity.

It comes as no surprise to see him today, not just surviving, but rising above the horrible circumstances that almost cost him his life. Some may say it is just luck that people like McLemore survive their ordeal. It seems, rather that they are destined to find a greater purpose in life (as he says, “now I know who I am”). In the end it’s all that really matters. McLemore will touch many more lives, in an entirely new way. Ultimately, it inspires others to ascend life’s difficulties, improving their communities and themselves.

Thank you, Cristin, for sharing your story, and Kerry for poignantly illustrating the struggle and celebration of a man in transition.

Blair Ludwig

Southwest Portland

Ratepayers deserve better water policies

The recent water main break in Portland (Water main break closes West Burnside, web story, Oct. 29) should suggest a need to rethink the status quo. Change, including more competition with how the area’s water systems are managed, must be put into place now to prevent taxpayers and ratepayers from paying exorbitant utility bills and huge liabilities in the future.

A recent study by the National Taxpayers Union found that nearly a half-trillion dollars in government expenditures could be saved over the next 40 years through the adoption of open procurement for pipe materials and better asset management. The Mayors Water Council of the U.S. Conference of Mayors also has supported these proposals.

Public officials here and in communities across the nation should strive for water policies that deliver the highest possible level of accountability to taxpayers and ratepayers.

Pete Sepp

National Taxpayers Union executive vice president

Alexandria, Va.

Protect funding for parks, public lands

After a 16-day closure of Crater Lake National Park due to the government shutdown, Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell (who oversees our national parks, monuments and wildlife refuges) recently made a public commitment to get our parks and public lands the resources they need and the protection they deserve.

Our national parks and public lands are more popular than ever, with millions of Americans planning family vacations to places from Crater Lake National Park to Oregon Caves National Monument. Yet increased pressure from logging, mining and drilling companies is stripping our parks of the resources they need and the protection they deserve.

During the past two years, Congress has cut our parks budget by more than 10 percent, attempted to zero out critical conservation programs and stalled dozens of land protection bills — failing to protect a single new acre of wilderness in the past three years.

That’s why I was happy to hear Jewell lay out a strong conservation agenda. I look forward to working hand-in-hand with Jewell, President Obama and U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley to keep Oregon’s public lands protected by restoring our national parks funding, fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund, our nation’s premier conservation program, and ensuring that special places like the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument get the protection it deserves.

As an advocate of our national parks and public lands, I would love to see a Congress that’s more supportive of what writer Wallace Stegner called “America’s best idea.” However, we can’t afford to wait. That’s why I’m excited to work to do everything in our power to protect and invest in Oregon’s special places.

Rikki Seguin

Southeast Portland