January 10, 2013

Letters to the editor: Charter school offers nothing new

I read with great interest the Jan. 3 article by Noel K. Gallagher, "More than 30 apply to new Portland charter school," announcing that the school, the Baxter Academy for Technology and Science, has begun taking applications and will open for school year 2013-14.

click image to enlarge

Framed by a TV camera, John Jaques, executive director of the Baxter Academy for Technology and Science, listens at a news conference Jan. 2, when the school announced it’s accepting applications. A reader says Baxter Academy is duplicating other Portland high schools’ programming.

2013 File Photo/Gabe Souza

"School board member Kelli Pryor said the school, in addition to emphasizing science, technology, engineering and math, would offer Mandarin language and Chinese culture classes," Gallagher writes.

I submit to you that this is not a "new era," but merely a redundancy in academic programming and bad fiscal policy.

Does Portland need another public high school? Portland public schools currently offer more than a dozen Advanced Placement courses (college-level courses provided in the high school setting), including science and technology-themed offerings in statistics, calculus, biology, chemistry and environmental science, as well as a wide array of career technology programming in computer science, new media and robotics.

Existing academic programming is further supported by community partnerships with local colleges, universities, businesses and industries that provide for student internships and collaboration.

As for "global reach," the school department currently offers Advanced Placement and seminar courses in Spanish, French, Greek, Latin, Asian studies, African studies, Middle Eastern studies and "Understanding Culture Through World Religions." There are students from 45 different countries enrolled in Portland Public Schools; there is no lack of "global reach."

The new school's executive director, John Jaques, says, "We are going to increase opportunity and increase expectations for our students. We will all benefit from this."

I don't see how we all benefit from replicating on a smaller scale programming and "opportunities" that are already provided by the three public high schools that serve Portland students.

Craig King


Gun laws do not impose unfair obligation on buyers 

As a private pilot, I was required to get a medical exam every two years to make sure I was physically and mentally fit to fly an airplane.

Why should a gun owner have to do any less?

As a car owner, I am required to register and license my car.

Why should a gun owner have to do any less?

As a duck hunter, I am required to not have a gun that can hold more than three shells at a time. This is to give the ducks a fair chance.

AR-15s and other semiautomatic guns are allowed to have magazines holding up to 30 rounds. Why are ducks given more of a chance than our children?

Gun rights advocates and gun law advocates need to find some middle ground and get going on this. It's too important to be playing partisan games.

Peyton Higgison


Spending trade-offs needed to maintain Social Security 

The Our View editorial on Jan. 3 ("All who pay payroll tax hurt by fiscal cliff deal") expressed concern about stopping the payroll tax reduction. It supports Social Security and was supposed to be temporary.

Your editorials never seem to be concerned about the unfairness of passing on huge deficits and future Social Security insolvency to the next generations.

Some balance in addressing the issues would be to suggest trade-offs like removing the salary cap on the payroll tax to help maintain Social Security. Some suggestions for reduced federal spending could be helpful.

Michael Fisette


Most Americans support taxing rich at higher rate 

When will the right-leaning pundits and editors of this country stop trying to convince the vast majority of us that increasing the tax rate on the rich was not a good idea?

Jonah Goldberg, in his commentary "Winning ugly: Obama and the fiscal-cliff showdown" (Jan. 5), tried to make the point that in 2009, "the richest 5 percent of Americans paid almost 40 percent of all federal taxes and the richest 1 percent paid 22 percent."

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