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Letters, Sept. 28

Pronouns are important

I agree with the Mail Tribune editorial opinion that teaching matters, that first-graders can (and should) understand the nuances of gender identity and pronouns. I commend the Tribune for making a statement in defense of inclusion and diversity in the first-grade classroom, which is mandated as part of Oregon’s non-discriminatory educational system.

With that in mind, I think it’s important to recognize the value in pronouns and consider how much of history has erased gender in its use of pronouns, with the general use of he, which has been vague and discriminatory in law and politics. Pronouns aren’t just parts of speech, they are political, says linguist Dennis Baron, which is why “they” is critical as the pronoun inclusive to all gender identities.

That gender identity is an inappropriate subject for first graders is an ignorant position. Further, parents who think we shouldn’t discuss gender with young children are creating an unreceptive and rigid learning environment for their children.

As parents, it is our ethical responsibility to honor the identities of teachers (and students) by using correct pronouns. Anything less is exclusionary and unjust.

Melissa Matthewson


Arts in education

We recently marked Arts in Education week. This year’s theme was “Arts ARE Education.” We must keep this theme in mind all year long.

Locally we are seeing more school districts support the arts, and they are to be commended. In August some teacher workshops were held with the theme STEAM — that is STEM with an added “A” for arts. Education in the arts may not be measured by test results, but the arts get deep into the soul.

As a retired arts teacher, I have seen examples of students who relished their time in my classroom.. Colleagues were pleased when our music activities included social studies, reading, and math skills. Much brain research has documented brain synapses connect when arts are studied. How can we afford not to include the arts?

“Arts ARE education”—a theme for this year and every year.

Doris Sjolund


Run, Betsy, run for Oregon

Oregon is in trouble with rising crime and homelessness. There are three candidates for governor, a Democrat, a Republican and an independent. The question arises as to who is the best candidate to address these issues.

In my view it is the independent candidate, Betsy Johnson. She has made fighting crime and keeping people safe a priority in her campaign.

Betsy has been a long-serving former Oregon Democratic legislator. She has broken free of the diktats of political parties to use her experience and the best ideas of both Republican and Democratic parties. For example, she is cognizant of climate change but against the hyperbole of the left. She is for a woman’s right to choose about abortion. She has respect for the First and Second Amendments. In short, she stands on the principles of the country’s founding. What’s not to like?

Gordon W. Dickerson