Letters to the Editor: Dec. 18, 2019
Parents, teachers should advocate for yoga in schools
Rates of stress, anxiety and depression in teens and children have drastically increased in the last 10 years. These young students have relentlessly practiced lockdown and active shooter drills, but have yet to learn skills to help cope with the heightened fear of school shooters, not to mention all the other stress kids face in school. If there is time to practice active shooter drills and lockdowns, schools should also be implementing stress-relieving skills such as breathing techniques, meditation and yoga.
I graduated high school six years ago this coming spring and when I was in high school we occasionally practiced lockdown and fire drills once, maybe twice a year. Only six years ago you would hear about shootings periodically, in total from my freshman year in 2009 through my graduation in 2013 there were only 49 school shootings in the United States; most of these also hardly made national news. My peers and I did not fear going to school and felt safe in our environment to learn and just be teens. According to USA Today, this year alone there have been at least 30 school shootings, as recent as Nov. 14. With these statistics being nationally reported and a school shooting occurring almost every other week, it's safe to say that students are stressed.
Families, faculty and staff are expected to "stay strong" while they send their kids to school, or enter work each day when the reality is, they're just as anxious and stress as their kids are. School counselors' offices are overflowing with anxious students and instead of managing students that are learning new curriculum, teachers are having to manage emotional outbursts and other anxiety symptoms from students who are consistently concerned about just making it through the day and getting home to their parents. Providing students, faculty and staff with coping mechanisms that allow themselves and their students to stay calm and better regulate their emotions is in the best interest for the school community and would allow teachers to focus on teaching, students to focus on learning — and more importantly, on letting kids be kids. Yoga, meditation and breathing practices have all shown to decrease stress, heart rate and calm the nervous system which helps allow us to be in the current moment. A daily practice would allow students to center themselves when overly stressed or stimulated and help guide them rationally through the next steps, or behavior, they choose to take.
There are some schools around the United States that have taken to having a yoga practice implemented regularly within their normal school day. A study that was done in Berkeley, Calif., has shown a decrease in kids being sent to the office, violence in schools, behavioral problems and an increase in academic performance as well as students over all physical and mental health when simple yoga and meditation practices have been added into their program.
There are a plethora of yoga instructors, studios and programs available that would be happy to educate teachers, counselors and families of students about these practices.
Parents and teachers, you can advocate for this in your local school. You can also go to Zensationalkids.com for more information on how to get yoga started in your schools and what postures and practices tend to work best for different age groups.
Susie Carr, Forest Grove
Lobby Wyden to support RURAL legislation
For the past 75 years Oregon's electric cooperatives like West Oregon Electric Cooperative have provided our members affordable, reliable electricity. Sometimes that's not easy.WOEC experienced four FEMA events in the last six years, leaving consumers without power, causing millions of dollars in damages. FEMA funds bring the lights back on after these major events. However, due to an unintended consequence of federal tax law changes in 2017, electric co-ops that receive FEMA grants are now at risk of losing of their tax-exempt status, forcing them to raise rates on members to pay taxes.
Electric cooperatives remain tax-exempt as long as they receive 85% of their income from their member-owners. With tax law changes, government grants now count as non-member income, threatening this 85% threshold. Here's what's already happening: read KVAL.com's article "Fine Print: In 2017 GOP tax law could result in increase in electric co-op rates in Oregon."
Thankfully, common-sense legislation in Congress — the RURAL Act — ensures that co-ops do not jeopardize their tax-exempt status when they accept government grants. Passage of this bipartisan legislation means that Oregon's electric co-ops do not have to choose between their tax status or rebuilding infrastructure. But time is running out.The bill's ultimate fate may rest with U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, who has a unique opportunity to help keep rural Oregon in the light in more ways than one. By passing the RURAL Act, Sen. Wyden can continue as a shining example of bipartisan cooperation that Oregonians expect from their elected leaders. Please write to Senator Wyden asking him to support the Rural Act at wyden.senate.gov/contact.
WOEC director, District 5
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