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A full mailbag this week features reader responses to news and guest commentary pieces in the News-Times, and more.

Don't blame students for a failing system

I found your recent headline, "Freshmen off track" (news story, published Oct. 28, 2021), to be particularly inappropriate.

Read the online version of this story published Oct. 25, 2021.

I am not a resident of Forest Grove, nor do I have anyone I know in Forest Grove High School. But I do know the disservice such a pejorative headline does to a young person in less-than-advantageous circumstances.

The school may not be performing well, but this certainly has more to do with the way these students are taught, the resources available to them, the uneven impact of the pandemic on the lives of families of color, and other factors.

The freshmen of Forest Grove High School are not individuals who are off track; the system that is supposed to serve them is.

Please think before applying a headline that grabs eyeballs, but belittles malleable young people at the same time. I expect better from the News-Times.

Kuon Hunt, Hillsboro

Students need to learn American history

A recent citizen opinion suggested that the only fit subjects to teach children are literacy and mathematics ("'Identity politics' don't belong in schools," guest commentary published Oct. 21, 2021). But I would submit that ignoring our history is a perilous course to chart.

Read this online commentary by Tiffany Jacob, first published Oct. 18, 2021.

The writer used the words of Thomas Jefferson from the Declaration of Independence to somehow try to buttress her argument. When Jefferson wrote, "All men are created equal," he surely could not have believed those words himself.

First of all, he left off half of the population. Jefferson and the all-male contingent who later wrote our Constitution did not believe in equal rights for women.

And, Jefferson was a slave owner. He most decidedly did not believe that the people he enslaved on his plantation were his equals.

These are the kinds of truths we need to share with our young people so they can begin to get a grasp of the complicated history that has made our country what it is today. That is how we build a better future.

David Pauli, Forest Grove

'Restorative justice' is more than a slogan

In the recent Q&A with District Attorney Kevin Barton, DA Barton shows a lack of understanding of restorative justice.

Read our Q&A with Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton, first published online Oct. 25, 2021.

I am a mediation professional and a leader in the restorative justice field in Oregon. Restorative justice is an approach to crime or harm that takes into account the needs of victims and community along with supporting meaningful accountability from the person who caused the harm. It centers relationship building and repair for those most impacted by harm. Restorative justice asks the questions: Who was harmed? What are their needs? And what needs to be done to make things as right as possible?

Compared to traditional criminal justice, restorative justice reduces victims' trauma and makes the community safer by reducing the chances that the person who caused the harm ever commits a crime again. It also costs substantially less. Restorative justice meets the needs of all most impacted by crime/harm in a more meaningful and direct way than traditional criminal justice.

In the interview, DA Barton claimed that the specialty courts that have existed for years in Washington County incorporate restorative justice principles. There may be probation and treatment or services attached to various specialty courts, but they are a traditional approach to prosecution, with some rehabilitative aspects. Victims and the community have little to no voice in the processes — that is not restorative justice.

Carley Adams, Beaverton

Assange is a hero, not a criminal

This week marks a turning point, an emotional week for journalists and people around the world who have been following this case that started ten years ago. Wednesday, Oct. 27, begins the appeal to extradite Julian Assange to the United States. [Ed.: This letter to the editor was received on Oct. 27.]

Assange is not the perpetrator, but he revealed the truth: "War on terror" covers up human rights abuses and mass murder of civilians, targeting foreign infrastructures with purpose of gaining control of their resources and promoting latest weapons of mass destruction.

Mike Pompeo calls WikiLeaks a spy to bypass normal judicial process to bring Assange in custody of CIA with plots to assassinate. In the name of liberty for all, American national spirit has been inexcusably duped to support sending their own children and sacrificing billions of tax dollars to effectively terrorize and destroy smaller countries' livelihoods with superior weapons of mass destruction.

Acknowledging this truth would not only put an end to war on terror, but also question to this point the unquestionable status quo of government authority to dictate what we must and mustn't accept.

Assange is our hero who deserves freedom, not extradition into custody of criminals who had plotted to assassinate him, thus setting a precedent of shutting up every journalist's freedom of press going forward.

History is in the making. Are we simply content with our grand children reading some feel-good fabrications?

Truth is not a crime, but global terrorism is. Call your local representative now to drop the charges against Julian Assange.

I am a 39-year-old American citizen. I hope enough people will speak up to help stop this most pressing social reform of our lifetime that would impact every person on our planet for generations to come.

Mika Mihelle, Portland

Coral bleaching hammers home need for climate action

I've had the fortune of visiting Earth's vibrant underwater world through one of my favorite hobbies, scuba diving. From Hawaii to Guam to the Great Barrier Reef, to many times in the cool coastal waters off Washington's and Oregon's shore, diving has helped me appreciate the abundant life, beauty and sophistication of the oceans systems.

Over the years, I've seen the same areas of coral reefs that were once vibrant and full of life become white, bleached and lacking life.

Why is it doing this? As we burn fossil fuels, gasses are released and trapped in our atmosphere. Right now, there's so much gas that it's trapping extra heat.

Our oceans, two-thirds of the Earth, in all their vastness, hold much of the Earth's heat. The heat is too much for the underwater ecosystems to handle and causes these bleaching events.

Since the Industrial Revolution and the beginning of human-induced global warming, our oceans have absorbed 90% of the extra heat and become at least 30% more acidic. For those who live, work, play in and around the ocean, this is a dire situation.

For our oceans and our communities, we need to take action now to decarbonize every sector of our economy. The Build Back Better plan delivers this in a historic climate investment package.

I'd like to thank Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici for standing up for the boldest climate action possible, and for advocating for coastal restoration and resiliency projects. This is what our country and coastal communities need.

Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader, who represents some of Oregon's coastal communities, please take note of what your coastal constituents need now and, in the future, and vote to Build Back Better.

Jan Gwin, King City


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