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

Support four school board members

To the editor:

I would like my voice heard as only one side has been aired via commercials and now here. All seven of the Newberg school board members were voted in to represent their district. They all are there to do a job and it seems that Ines, Brandy, and Rebecca have an agenda to remove those that don't agree with them.

It is not about them. It is about Dave, Brian, Trevor and Renne taking the political flags, CRT teaching and damaging agendas out of the schools, which is what the parents want and know what is right for their kids.

Marta Wright, Dundee

Four board members show great courage

To the editor:

I am writing to voice my strong support for our conservative school board members for attempting to return the focus of our schools to actual learning as opposed to social engineering and political indoctrination.

In their decision to eliminate political and ideological symbols from the classroom, Dave Brown, Brian Shannon, Trevor De Hart and Rene Powell have demonstrated great courage by going against the woke mob that places far too much emphasis on what feels good as opposed to what is in the best interest of students and parents alike.

These recall attempts are nothing more than the desire of the minority to overturn the will of a majority of the voters because they don't like the results.

Instead of honoring the outcome by accepting the results and waiting for the next election, Newberg Equity in Education members decided to throw a temper tantrum and waste taxpayer money on recalls and frivolous lawsuits, even accepting money from Hollywood elites and the help of D.C. politicians to accomplish their ends.

I fear what will become of our great community if this becomes a regular practice.

David Klaus, Newberg

School district doing a poor job educating

To the editor:

I wholeheartedly agree with board members Brown, De Hart, Powell and Shannon that there is no place in public school, taxpayer-funded classrooms for political activism.

According to a study done in 2019 (the most recent I could find) Oregon schools ranked 44th among the school systems of each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. Not good.

According to statistics published in 2021, Newberg High School is ranked 143rd within Oregon. And 11,841st in national rankings. Not good.

According to 2021-22 state proficiency ratings, "Public Schools in Newberg 29J School District have an average math proficiency score of 43% (versus the Oregon public school average of 40%) and reading proficiency score of 57% (versus the 54% statewide average).

So, while Newberg school ratings are "better" than the state averages, it still means that 57 out of 100 Newberg students cannot pass a math proficiency test. And 43 out of 100 Newberg students cannot pass a reading proficiency test.

No wonder Kate Brown wanted to get rid of proficiency tests.

We taxpayers of Newberg 29J District are not getting a very good return for all the money we pour into our public schools.

Looks to me like the educators in Newberg public schools need to spend 100% of their time educating 100% of their students in math and reading. And zero time "educating" students about melanin and genitalia.

I will definitely vote no on the Brown/Shannon recall. I want education, not indoctrination.

Kath Blankenbiller, Newberg

A neutral learning environment is good for all children

To the editor:

With all of the concern on the left about how the majority school board members don't care about the children, I have not seen much concern expressed about the low academic scores of children in the Newberg School District or about what needs to change to turn their academic performance around.

Instead, there is an irrational focus on calling a ban on political media a political ban. Read that again. Alleging that opposition to Gay Pride and BLM media is motivated by politics is ludicrous. Exactly the opposite is true -- supporting these signs in the schools is actually what is political.

What if, instead, teachers and staff had posted "Abortion Stops a Beating Heart" or "Blue Lives Matter" or "Proud Supporter of the NRA" signs? All seven school board members, as well as many others who vehemently oppose the current ban, would demand a ban on these signs.

The fact is all of these signs should be considered political. So, let's stop pretending that the school board members who support the ban are being political, racist, homophobic and hateful when they have, in fact, voted to make our schools politically neutral. A neutral learning environment focused on teaching the "3 Rs" would be much more conducive to improving academic outcomes.

Let's be sure Shannon and Brown stay on the school board to make this happen. Vote no on the recall.

Peggy Kilburg, Newberg

Recalls authors care little about the children

To the editor:

The spate of lawsuits against the Newberg School District and the recall efforts against two school board members belies the true purpose of their actions.

Their authors are not concerned about properly educating our children or even of their welfare. they are striving for political power.

Recent TV ads for the recall smell of big money: maybe the ACLU, the teacher's union, the Democrat political machine or a liberal benefactor. Be aware that their true goal is to be able to indoctrinate our children to accept without question every woke, liberal idea that they choose without input from parents.

They are not afraid of bringing political views into the classroom. The at-home learning required by Covid has often shocked parents by what they see being taught.

Newberg has become one of the battlegrounds of the culture war we did not seek. We have the choice to accept all of their current and future demands or to stand strong in defiance of their bullying efforts.

We as citizens and parents are sometimes called upon by circumstances to protect our liberties and our way of life.

America has stood for many years as the vanguard of personal liberty and as a welcoming melting pot of all races and religions with respect and opportunity for all. Newberg is a great city and America is still a great country if we pay the required price to protect it.

Please vote no on the recall and join me and my family in supporting the school board and their decisions.

Steve Wozniak, Newberg

Support the 'Fab Four's' efforts

To the editor:

With our state level of academic achievement being the lowest in the country and Newberg, specifically, being almost the lowest in the state, I am concerned about the futures of our youngest citizens.

From comments written by parents who have removed their children from school, I have learned that the children who were failing before leaving are now making great strides in alternative educational situations.

The parents claim that the mental and emotional well-being of their children has vastly improved, that the children are happier in general.

Parents, whose children still attend the district schools, say their children are anxious, apprehensive about going to school, overwhelmed by the sexually charged atmosphere and the favoritism shown by the teachers.

They report that motivation in the form of attention and praise is given to the children who actively support the political and social agendas of the teachers, specifically BLM and gender issues. It appears that adherence to teaching the academic material for which they were hired is secondary.

Why aren't more parents removing their children? I believe this is coming. And the loss of money per child based on attendance will make it hard to run the district. Will families consider moving into an area with such a deplorable educational reputation?

But with the recent change in leadership in the board it seems an excellent education is still possible. I commend the recent efforts of the board to clear the classroom of extraneous issues.

I look forward to the hiring, as soon as possible, of a superintendent who will focus on bringing in teachers who can create an environment of learning rather than the current climate that is driving students away.

There is strong support for this new vision in the district and I am confident that we will retain the current majority, The Fabulous Four, and restore our schools to their former excellence.

Patrice Jordan, Newberg

School board fighting indoctrination

To the editor:

Our schools should be places where children get a strong grounding in reading, writing, math, etc., to prepare them for the future. History should be taught honestly.

Promulgation of political and social opinions is a distraction from the core purpose of public school and easily slides into indoctrination.

I support school board members of that mindset, and for that reason, I am against the school board recall.

Kevin Cook, Dundee

Keep current school board in place

To the editor:

I'm writing to urge your readers to consider supporting our elected school board as it stands. We have local school boards in Oregon for a reason. I see our board trying to corral our schools' behaviors to promote a scholastic learning environment to educate our kids.

As I see the issue, if our taxpayers want our elementary age children to explore their gender identity and choose for themselves their pronouns, if they want to believe that individual wealth earning is inherently wrong, and if being born Caucasian deserves a self-incriminating judgment, then they should vote yes to remove the board members and support the underlying movement of "progressive" societal thinking.

But if Newberg voters believe that our local school should reflect and teach values inherent in a constitutional democracy to our children, we should give our current board a chance to have the authority to direct our employees to teach without political bias.

Keep them and add to their ranks with our voices all the way to state level. Perhaps the state mandates need to be reviewed as well.

This small majority hasn't even had a year to represent the "silent majority" that voted them in and the opposition has overwhelmed them with accusations that their goals are not what Newberg wants and deserves. We deserve better than this.

Rita Cohen, Dundee

Action, not signage or speech, speaks more loudly

To the editor:

In regard to public flagging and announcements of support of LGBTQ+ persons, BLM, etc. should be restricted in the public schools.

Because of movements and protests in the last few years becoming highly publicized, with presidents and politicians weighing in on them, these causes have entered the realm of politics. Ms. Shotts' concern that "Even more important to me, queer students deserve to be safe and supported" (Dec. 29 Graphic article by Gary Allen) is kind.

However, legislation has provided means to meet special needs through IEPs and 504s. These present issues are not recognized as academic problems.

By means of her quotes in The Graphic, Ms. Shotts has declared that her rainbow sign is in the league of political signage. But her statement, "I wish the entire board would join us in these efforts" indicates a wish for coordinated efforts.

Has she joined the entire board to promote the safety and dignity of students she is very concerned for? It takes effort and time to explain your concerns to a school board.

Constituents need to put logical thoughts into writing, skills such as might be learned in –– a public school education. Constituents should attend board meetings and make reasonable suggestions.

Ms. Shotts might suggest any number of staff-teacher-counseling coordinated identification and individual supports for a student who needs that.

Additionally, respect and dignity is given more by the personal example of respect shown by staff, teachers and classmates than by signs and banners. It is the action, not the signage or speech, that speaks more loudly.

In my opinion, reasonable approach to the school board without limiting this issue to name calling, banners and closing oneself in one's camp, is a much more viable approach to serving our students than calling a Gunn -Shotts war.

Margaret Nava, Newberg

Make your recall vote based on the facts

To the editor:

Voters in the Newberg School District recall, you will soon be receiving your ballot for the recalls of Brian Shannon and Dave Brown. Please read the pro and con statements very carefully and with an open mind. I would like to point out a few things.

Brian Shannon claims: "The far-left is pursuing this recall effort." Fact: Hundreds of registered Republicans (myself included) signed the recall petitions. The organizer of the recall is, in fact, a non-affiliated voter.

"None of these (lawsuits) have been found to have any merit whatsoever." Fact: None of the lawsuits have been litigated, so he cannot say they have been found without merit.

Dave Brown claims: "I voted to remove our superintendent because everyone must be important and represented in this community."

Fact: What about the brave student whose public testimony was followed by the community member who not only complained about the "Be Known" sign in a Dundee Elementary School window, but who used a homophobic slur when speaking of the student in the Oct. 12 school board meeting? How was he being respected?

Please go to YouTube and watch this meeting. About 10 minutes in, you will hear what I am talking about.

"Cost? Our district has lost millions for the direction ... that forced families to remove their children."

Fact: COVID resulted in many school districts losing students. The district for which I work lost about 1,000 students between October 2019 and October 2021. My district is not facing the same turmoil that the NSD is.

But the no one can ignore that fact that the district will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars from the firing of Dr. Morelock and in the defense of multiple lawsuits. In conclusion fellow voters, please don't let rhetoric overtake logic, please don't let party affiliation put you on the narrow path of voting without careful consideration, and please, please, consider that our students must thrive and our community must thrive. Only a strong school system will make this a reality.

Carla Parker, Newberg

Let kids be kids

To the editor:

Since I have already written a long letter about the Newberg school issue, I will try to be more concise with my views. First off, I wish the recall was not happening along with all the other city issues, but since it is, I only hope that the voters do show up to vote.

Secondly, those that vote should recall their own school days -- back when the subjects we paid for were taught without taking sides on worldwide issues -- showing and teaching what students already know or will learn in life, the subject of respect.

Signage brings out the worst in people, dividing their thoughts from the real issues. Some use publicly paid signage to proclaim their sexual status, while others use racial signage to try to be "in with the times."

Yes, they may believe in it as well, but why not do it at home instead or go to the support meetings instead of making those students stand out in the crowd?

True, maybe some of the students are now saying, "Yay, they recognize we are here and want respect." However, it only makes the division of color and sexual orientation stand out more for the bullies as they call out to show they are different and want special recognition.

Please don't do this to our kids. Let them be kids. Let them learn life and the facts of life on their own, as I have over many years. Don't rush them in life to be something that they really may not be at this time, but feel directed toward an orientation because of your books, promotions and teaching.

Promote respect, first to the state of Oregon and the United States and the rest will follow.

Vote no on the recall of Mr. Shannon and Mr. Brown.

Roger Currier, Newberg

It does pay to shop locally

To the editor:

On Dec. 23, the baking element in our 30-year-old oven ruptured and caught fire. While we were able to find the part online, it would not be delivered until after Jan. 1.

We had 16 invited guests for Christmas day's dinner, so we scratched our heads over how to deal with this matter.

We phoned Krohn's Appliance Service and left a recall message. While the owners had shut down for the holidays, after Brian heard our voicemail, he checked his stock and found the exact element we needed. He phoned us, reopened his store on the 24th, and we fixed the over promptly.

He was being a great neighbor and this kindness us and our guests. It does pay to shop locally.

Carleton Lloyd, Newberg

Did the board ask the right questions before acting?

To the editor:

The Newberg School District board appears to be embroiled in a local version of our larger culture wars. Some are clearly supportive of recent board actions and some are deeply opposed, even filing lawsuits against the board. I find myself in partial agreement with both "sides," but in clear disagreement with the way the majority had approached this.

Contrary to a private organization, where people choose to join depending on their agreement (or disagreement) with the goals and activities of the group, the school board functions as a public organization to serve the whole community. (After all, the vast majority of us pay direct or indirect taxes to operate the schools.)

Therefore, it is important for leaders of public entities to not just serve those with whom they personally agree, but to serve all of the community.

Is the community divided – it appears so. Then is the best plan to have one side win and the other lose? Personally, it seems so much better to frame the issues as something other than "win-lose."

For instance, regarding the actions on offensive signs, did the board discuss any alternatives to the proposal of "no signs?" Did they seek a mediating alternative such as: limiting the size of signs, limiting the number of signs any individual could post, limiting the locations where signs could be posted or limiting the length of time a sign could remain posted?

If these or similar options were not considered, why not? I wonder if the board as it is currently composed is going to be able to make the shift from winning at any cost to leading from the center?

It sounds like boring leadership but is the wiser approach. If this continues toward an election of new board members, I'm going to be looking for candidates that show the maturity to provide positive, adult leadership precisely in the context of community disagreement.

Culture war thinking often describes issues in apocalyptic language – if this happens it will be the end of "xxx," if "they" win it will be the downfall of Newberg!

I disagree with that perspective. Yes, it's currently messy but I believe our community is sufficiently mature to be able to see beyond this episode of disagreement and find a path out of our current situation, thus demonstrating to our younger generation how to respond to the tough issues they will face in their future.

Doug Bartlett, Newberg

Retired teacher urging no vote on recalls

To the editor:

I was a special education teacher in Montana, Minnesota and Oregon, teaching all grades preschool through high school, and almost every category of disability before I retired. I have been following the attempted recalls of Brian Shannon and Dave Brown from the Newberg school board.

I want to go on record stating that I am against both recalls for the following reasons:

- I want the school board to focus on students getting back to the basics of education instead of all these political issues that most teachers and administrators are attempting to indoctrinate them with. I believe students should be taught math, science, civics, English and all other core subjects which will prepare them for the real world.

- I am very much against teaching them about Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, gender politics and allowing one gender using another gender's bathroom depending on how they feel that day of the week, etc. I am appalled that the liberals and radicals are attempting to indoctrinate our students with these radical beliefs.

- Students need to be able to express their own opinions, not just regurgitate the opinions and beliefs (radical) of their teachers and administrators. How can they feel safe to express their own beliefs and opinions when the teachers' radical opinions and beliefs are posted everywhere?

- Brian Shannon and Dave Brown are conservatives who were elected by a vote of the people and who want to restore sanity to this school district. They should not be recalled simply because the "other side" doesn't agree with the philosophy of a majority of the school board. Please vote no on both recalls.

Joan Shew, Newberg

City's Elliott Road project poorly conceived

To the editor:

Having started my civil engineering and surveying career in 1968, I have seen a lot of changes. Surveying went from transit, chain and logarithms to GPS, scanning and 3-D modeling based on millions of data points. Land use regulations were adopted and as I drive around, I see that the regulations have resulted in the very thing that they were designed to prevent.

Development is encroaching onto farm and forest lands and our freeways are clogged. Wilsonville, once a city hall in a trailer with a secretary and plumbing inspector, is now merging with Lake Oswego, Tualatin, Sherwood and Tigard.

When I recently drove from San Francisco to Angels Camp in California on a clogged five-lane freeway in each direction, I realized that there is no way that we locally and as a society can build ourselves out of this, much less tackle the real crisis -- global warming.

The city of Newberg, with its planned improvement to Elliott Road, has also put standards above need, cost, livability and the neighborhood.

I describe engineering as the mathematical application of common sense, but now it seems to be a lost art.

Leonard Rydell, Newberg

Recalls a waste of time and money

To the editor:

I haven't written a letter to the editor since the year of the senior prank my son was involved in 1993.

People were up in arms and ready to hang those seniors and saying red flags were going off about their character and misdeeds. I assured the Graphic and whoever read it that there were no red flags and that my son was a fine individual and people should stop weighing in on his character without putting their fingers on the scale.

Now I find myself listening again to all those righteous "do-gooders" who think they know what's best for our kids better than we do, and judging people who don' t agree with them.

The vote was cast for our school board and it was final. Big reason they were chosen was because of their stand on this very issue. Thank goodness they're keeping politics out of our schools. There's enough politics, division and hate in America– keep it out of our schools. We cast our votes. You need to accept it and quit wasting our time and money because you didn't get your way.

Sylvia Vaughn, Newberg

Your vote = your voice

To the editor:

Ballots for the Newberg school board recall election have been delivered by mail to all registered voters in the Newberg School District. They must be postmarked by Jan. 18 or placed in a drop box on that date.

I read that only 17% of registered voters cast a ballot in the last school board election. If you really care about the kind of education our students will receive and are concerned about the health and financial security of the Newberg School District, then this is the time to make your voice heard: Your vote = your voice.

Some groups are trying to discourage citizens from voting. This is your opportunity to take action by exercising your power as an American and voting to show you do not take your rights for granted. Democracy only works when more of us vote.

Thanks for being a voter.

Carol Wingate, Newberg

School board must be held accountable

To the editor:

I am a school administrator, an educator with 26 years of experience and a Newberg resident of 16 years. And I can clearly state that this board is anti-educator, and Directors Brown and Shannon must be removed for the health of our schools.

Where is the support for school staff burned out after two years of pivoting on ever-shifting COVID policy? Other districts have negotiated additional days off around the holidays, tokens of appreciation for educators with local businesses, or proclamations of appreciation for the extraordinary efforts of educators right now.

But not the Newberg school board.

Instead, they and their supporters assail our teachers with slogans implying they spend their time indoctrinating their students, accusations as ludicrous as they are offensive. Instead, we get anti-educator policies that restrict topics of conversation from anything "controversial," a subjective term that both creates a chilling effect for teachers and makes the board the arbiters of speech.

And here's the amazing thing. If you believe your child is being indoctrinated by his or her teacher, there's a complaint process. If your child feels unsafe or offended by a poster or symbol displayed in their class, there's a complaint process. We don't need an extremist, anti-educator board to accomplish the goal of keeping politics out of the classroom.

Mark my words, if this board is not held accountable for its actions, we will be lucky to retain 70% of our teachers. Who would want to work for a board openly antagonistic toward them when there are record numbers of jobs available elsewhere?

Ross Davis, Newberg

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