LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Save county extension service

The value of saving the Jackson County Extension Service from closing is most essential to help us meet the challenge of global warming in the valley. Why? Because higher temperatures, loss of topsoil and the shortage of irrigation water for farming will be challenging without ready agricultural and forestry information from the local Extension Service.

Talk of closing the service doesn't make sense to save $204,204 while losing 31 personnel and $1,731,650 from state, federal, and competitive grants. This service supports agriculture, forestry, youth and family development including 4-H, and natural resource management programs that are central to the economic vitality of this county.

We must find the funds to support the Extension Service by including a levy, service charge and/or sponsors. Are there other ways to raise funds to support this important service? — Porter Lombard, Medford


Allegiance can't be forced

House Bill 3014, pending in the Oregon Legislature, would require Oregon schools to provide daily opportunities for employees or students to lead students in the flag salute and pledge of allegiance. Many religious Americans do not subscribe to the idea that God's role is to organize the affairs of humans and countries and therefore object to group religious exercises in public places. Many patriotic Americans subscribe to no religion at all.

Many students object to patriotic and religious exercises in the public schools on the basis of their political beliefs. All of those students and their families have the constitutional right to refuse to participate in the Pledge. Compelling daily recitation of the Pledge forces students into a no-win situation. They risk being bullied by peers if they choose not to participate, or participate in the Pledge in violation of their conscience. Forcing children to make this choice every day is unwise, unnecessary and potentially unconstitutional.

With all of this state's challenges, I ask our representatives to focus on funding schools, and encourage schools to teach the principles of democracy through example. The civil rights embodied in our state and federal constitutions are meant not to force allegiance, but to inspire it. — Cate Hartzell, Ashland


Congratulations

Congratulations on Wednesday's editorial page (April 24). The local editorial was brilliant as were the columns by Leonard Pitts and Kathleen Parker. — Walt Marsh, Ashland


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