I just read an article in the Tribune about the seats in the Veterans Memorial Coliseum vs. the Rose Garden (Colossal conundrum, June 27). Someone has said that the Rose Garden seats are better.

No, they are not. They are small, there is no foot room and the metal they sit on is noisy, wobbly and scary.

The coliseum’s seats are generous in size for us heavier people, and the seats on solid concrete don’t wiggle, so you can relax and enjoy the game, show, etc.

Kelly Farris

Northeast Portland

Have car, will travel in freedom

Last week’s column by Will Vanlue (BTA blueprint has value beyond bicycling, June 27) reveals the arrogance that is so prevalent among the “Portland groupthink” set that has forced their opinions and policies on the rest of us.

Vanlue feels sorry for us out here in Washington County who are “forced” to drive cars. Listen up: We prefer to drive rather than walk, bike or catch a bus or train. When I drive to the grocery, or a nursery, or a home product store, I can easily transport all of my purchases, for which a car is necessary. When I visit my daughter a few miles away, I don’t arrive soaked in sweat during hot weather, or soaked from rain during wet weather, because I drive my small car rather than bike or walk. And I didn’t waste time waiting for a bus or train.

Last year in Tigard we voted to have a say in whether we want our tax dollars spent on light rail here (estimated to cost more than $3 billion). That’s because we don’t like what happened in Clackamas County, where commissioners maneuvered to fund light rail despite major citizen opposition.

Today’s cars are smaller, safer and far more fuel efficient and clean burning than ever before and will continue to improve in these areas. The automobile made walking, biking and streetcar travel obsolete nearly a century ago because we value our time and freedom.

James Caster


Equal opportunity not always ‘equity’

Portland Public Schools and the institutions of public education are decadent and moribund (School equity talks: What now?, June 27).

The reasons are myriad and at different levels. Public K-12 has become a dumping ground for social problems like inequality that we neither want to confront nor solve, but want to seem to confront or solve. Manufacturing appearances is less difficult and risky, while our capacity for self-deception allows us to assuage our consciences.

To be fair, society has become an ossified collection of vested interests that block improvement. Fighting them takes time, money and energy. So we default to symbolic and feel-good measures in lieu of improvement.

“Equity” and “diversity” programs and courses, whatever they amount to, will not reduce inequality in society. To, in effect, institutionalize, telling kids to “do as we say, not as we do,” reveals us as hypocrites. Social/cultural mores that count are inculcated through daily actions, not words or indoctrination.

We embrace the myth of public education as an equalizing mechanism — a way for everyone to be given equal opportunities in life, as if that were all there was to equal opportunity. We know better, but we just do not want to deal with it partly because opportunity has become a zero-sum game.

But social Darwinism fits nicely with our vaunted myth of individualism. So we kick the can down the road to the next generation as we do with other social problems like global warming.

Equal opportunity in public education presupposes equal opportunity in society, not the other way around. The impediments go considerable distance in explaining that. One result is that while kids have no power over the curriculum or society, they have the power to drop out or tune out, which they are doing. Then we pretend that the problems with public education lie wholly within the institution itself.

We do not understand our institutions, we are impatient with anything that is not a quick fix, and we believe that there must be someone who has the answers, someone who can show “leadership.” So we look to politicians, CEOs, Rudy Crew, principals and brilliant individuals for the answer.

To call a person in an educational job a “czar” says a great deal about what we think the problem is and how best to deal with it.

Tom Shillock

Northeast Portland

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