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The Newberg Graphic's readers weigh in on important issues of the day and more

Four school board members have no regard or understanding for what's best for students

To the editor:

How do children learn how to be active citizens in their communities? Beginning in kindergarten and continuing until grade 12? They learn by engaging in activities that cultivate collaboration and build consensus. They learn by being members of a safe community where they participate in respectful and thoughtful conversations about challenging issues that are relevant to their own lives. They learn by valuing every voice and perspective. They learn by thinking critically for themselves to navigate controversy. They learn by practicing and by watching the democratic process modeled in their classroom and in their local community.

I am deeply concerned for the students in the Newberg School District when I see what is being modeled by Newberg school board members Dave Brown, Brian Shannon, Renee Powell and Trevor DeHart.

As a retired Newberg middle school teacher and current teacher education instructor at the university level, I am familiar with the Oregon Social Science Standards. These curriculum standards guide teachers in planning lessons to encourage students to be critical thinkers and engaged, informed citizens. I am certain that the four-person majority of the school board has no knowledge of these curriculum standards, as their actions are in direct conflict with even the kindergarten-level standards.

Their main objective as school board members seems to be to quickly push through as many of their agenda items as fast as they can (while they have a majority), with no time to hear the voices of all stakeholders and no time for thorough discussion and review.

They have no regard for the many damaging consequences of their actions. The result has been the creation of a poorly written and deeply flawed discriminatory policy and, most recently, the firing of the district superintendent with no cause.

It is no wonder these actions have been condemned by the Oregon State Board of Education, among other authorities at the local and state level. It is no wonder multiple lawsuits are in the works. It is no wonder that Newberg is regularly in the news.

Our children deserve ethical role models who are well-informed and knowledgeable about democratic citizenship. Students need to see the process for thoughtful conversations about challenging issues and what collaboration and consensus looks like. They need to see firsthand how engaging in civil discourse about issues that are relevant to them produces healthy communities.

Our children need four new school board members who understand this.

Diane Allen, Newberg

A call for leadership

(Editor's note: Dr. Paula Radich is a former superintendent of the Newberg School District).

To the editor:

I don't recognize us. What was once described to me as "Mayberry" – an idyllic portrait of another time in the Newberg School District and Newberg-Dundee communities— is now a disassociated, disjointed version of what? What we could be and long to be is not this.

A wedge is driven deeply into the heart of the Newberg School District and our community. We either continue this dysfunction or embrace a higher standard of leadership.

Our Newberg School District's leadership team reflected on readings from "A Higher Standard of Leadership: Lessons from the Life of Gandhi." This text proved transformational to our mantra as leaders and individuals: "Your life is your message. Leadership by example is not only the most pervasive but the most enduring form of leadership."

We are all called to lead: parents, students, staff, board and community. Each step on the path to a higher standard of leadership takes courage — courage to commit to treating others as ourselves. _Our lives are our message. We must serve as examples to our children. Embracing political ideologies and party politics will not bring our school community to wholeness or greatness — only we, collectively, can do so.

Paula Radich, Newberg

Questions about funeral procession

To the editor:

Frustration is what I felt after reading and re-reading your front-page story of Sgt. Brian Gaunt's funeral procession. It raised more questions than answers. A 14-mile procession is a lot of cars, displacing a lot of other drivers en route. That is a statement! Of what?

The story didn't say if Sgt. Gaunt had been vaccinated for Covid-19. Was this a public demonstration to highlight the importance of vaccinations against this virus?

Hundreds of fine people in Oregon have died from Covid-19. Did any of them have a 14-mile-long funeral procession? Was the procession of mostly law enforcement personnel? Was this then a public demonstration that "Blue Police Lives Matter" to counter the Newberg schools' desire to display Black Lives Matter flags, which apparently a large segment of police see as a threat to themselves? If so, why was a football team from a Quaker institution made to be a part of this demonstration?

So many questions.

James Parker, Newberg

Four school board directors wreak havoc

To the editor: They ran on a platform of "preventing corruption, mismanagement and misleading curriculum from taking over school districts." To date they have violated public meeting laws, illegally retained outside counsel and misrepresented policies in support of student welfare. They have ignored pleas from the Chamber of Commerce, City Council and every mental health professional in the district to cease their divisive activities.

Student and staff appeals for reason have been met with silence. They have rejected appeals from merchants, wineries and realtors telling them that their behavior is costing Newberg tourism and investment dollars. Even our largest retirement community reports that retirees are withdrawing their interest in living in Newberg.

And they have fired, without cause and without justification, the immensely capable Superintendent Dr. Joe Morlock. That termination will cost the district hundreds of thousands of dollars; dollars that should be allocated to student learning and welfare.

In every way imaginable Directors Brown, Shannon, DeHart and Powell have proven to be duplicitous and deleterious to our students, our schools and our town. By resignation or recall Brown, Shannon, DeHart and Powell need to go. Ian McDonough, Newberg

An ode to the school board Fab Four

Chaos contingent

Continues costly kookiness

The credentialed canned.

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"We care for all kids."

Self-congratulatory

Words meant to impress.

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Others that there is

Due diligence being done

By these farcical ones.

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But, claims ring hollow!

Unforced error on your part,

Chairman David Brown.

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How can these four claim

To be in it for the kids

When it's all about them?

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Four meddling minions

Manifestly mendacious

In their maneuverings.

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Mediocrity

Is what they are handing us

With their machinations.

Scott Phoenix, Newberg


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