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Don't miss Baker

Last year my husband and I attended the Beth Baker concert and it was a wonderful evening of music. Beth has a tremendously gifted voice, one that will touch your heart and call forth a wide variety of emotions. This popular vocalist not only sings beautifully but also has a real knack for interacting with the audience she so dearly loves.

Needless to say, last year's concert was sold out, and local residents who had not previously bought tickets were turned away the night of the concert. Beth Baker will be back for a concert tonight (Sunday, March 13) at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater. Hope everyone bought tickets early.

This year's concert also benefits Healing Journeys, a nonprofit organization that helps make a genuine difference in cancer patients' lives. For a grand night of singing, do not miss this show! ' M.J. Baich, Medford

Assumptions don't stand up

Conservatives have hated Social Security ever since it was included with New Deal legislation by FDR. Now, with privatization, they sense both ideological victory and enormous profits for brokers and bankers at the prospect of its gutting.

The economic assumptions and projections made by the administration to float this rotting barge by the American public do not stand up to scrutiny. The only way privatization can work is by reducing benefits. No wonder the administration proposes to exclude those aged 55 and over!

Just try and find an economist to advance an economic model that projects the kind of growth that makes privatization work. In the meantime, read Paul Krugman in the New York Times online for another perspective. ' John Cates, Eagle Point

Save the environment

A few days before Christmas 2004, the Bush administration made changes in the National Forest Management Act so that there will be more logging, drilling for oil and mining on public lands. There will be no protection of wildlife species that act as indicators for the health of the forest, and public input on federal projects will be eliminated.

Also, the Bush administration is again pushing for drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and is planning to avoid public input by adding it to a must-pass budget bill. Sen. Gordon Smith has stated that he will vote against it, which deserves a big thank-you.

I would ask that those of you who care about saving the environment from an onslaught of destruction write, call, e-mail or fax your senators and representatives. Our national forests and parks belong to us, the people, and unless we voice our opinions, in numbers, to those who represent us, we deserve the mandate proposed by a few who care little about our wildlands and wildlife. ' Mary Ellen Holland, Ashland

Saving Social Security

If I heard correctly, an estate/financial planner said at a chamber meeting that the insurance companies are now using the age of 110 for their rate charts. We know that over 40 million abortions have legally occurred in the past 30-plus years.

Therefore, it's obvious there will be more seniors on Social Security than there will be juniors to pay for it. It's also obvious there won't be anything left for younger workers once they reach retirement age. Something has to be done.

I am in favor of letting younger workers use a portion of their Social Security to invest for their future. Even now, Social Security is not enough for a person to live on comfortably. We have to have other income to be self-sufficient.

It used to be that people didn't live long after being eligible for Social Security. What they put into it reverted back into the government coffers. If younger workers are allowed to invest in a personal account and they don' t live long after retirement, their families reap the harvest. ' Willa Johnson, Phoenix

Schools out of touch

Why are the Medford Schools so out of touch with the real world? The truth is that no other organization would consider hiring someone as superintendent who doesn't believe enough in the product to use it himself.

Would Mike Moran hire a police officer that did not believe in local law enforcement? Would Larry Nicholson work for a CEO who doesn't believe in insurance? Maybe we should elect a governor who lives in California?

Long would have no credibility with teachers, parents or students because he has no investment in the success or failure of our schools. His children will not be affected by his decisions and his leadership, whether it is positive or negative. If the Medford School District is good enough to financially support your family, shouldn't you have enough confidence in it to educate your children?

Dick Gregory cited cultural issues that are the product of the past 20 years as a reason he resigned after less than a year on the job. Rather than taking on those issues, the school board is going to promote a long-time administrator who was a product of these 20 years. Why don't we just hire Steve Wisely back? ' John Glaser, Jacksonville

Questions raised

Some questions were raised in our family when we learned that the person who is the district's director of curriculum and elementary education homeschools his own children.

Does he know something the rest of us don't? Maybe my children need to rethink where they school my grandchildren. ' Janet L. McMullin, Medford

Decision seems obvious

According to the Mail Tribune, school superintendent candidate Phil Long homeschools his children in order to see the children academically challenged.

If Long jumped ship because 549C could not academically challenge his children, he has no faith in public education, leaving me incredulous that he sees himself look(ing) to the future with a clearer vision of a better way. I shudder to consider the caliber of the other candidates if Long was number one on both lists. Ridiculous.

If that were the case, Long was right, and we should all jump ship. The decision to remove him from considerations seems obvious. ' Eric Morrell, Medford

Hypocrisy or arrogance?

Mr. Long says his record speaks for itself. Reminds me of the old saying, Do as I say, not as I do.

Hypocrisy? Or just plain old arrogance? Sounds like the kind of boss I'd want ... not. ' Mitch Selby, Medford.

Long would be bad choice

Hiring Phil Long for Medford 549C superintendent would be a bad move. Here's why:

His experience is inadequate at the senior administrative level. He has never been a principal, much less a superintendent.

Perhaps of even more concern is the fact that in spite of being a long-term Medford administrator, his two children do not and have not attended Medford schools. Rather, he has chosen homeschooling for them.

If Medford schools are not satisfactory for his children, as superintendent, consider the message that sends to 549C employees and the Medford community as a whole. ' Mary Kincaid, Medford

Can't understand objections

I don't know school superintendent candidate Phil Long, so I have no ax to grind here. I just can't understand why people are assuming he homeschools his children because he doesn't have confidence in Medford's teachers.

When my kids were in school, they were small for their ages, and constantly being bullied. I would have homeschooled them for that reason alone. ' Florence Calderone Blake, Sams Valley

A better perspective

In Monday's article on Dr. Phil Long, superintendent finalist, a woman voiced concerns that he homeschools and that he hasn't worked in other educational systems. Here, the former solves the problem of the latter.

Jackson County's homeschooling community is an equally competent educational system. Dr. Long's familiarity with this system gives him an advantage as to how to bring the best of that system into ours.

In August 2000, the Tribune featured Dr. Long opening the doors of the school district to homeschooling families. This brought in money for the district, kids back into the schools and told the community 549C cares about the education of all kids. It kept us progressive and in step with other districts who have done the same.

I do not homeschool. But to have a superintendent who does tells me that education is a priority for him. He did what he thought was best for his kids, despite potential opposition. For this, he has integrity and chutzpah, something we've needed in our district for a long time. Character, along with the years of outstanding service in each position he's held in the district, makes Dr. Phil Long the district's best choice for superintendent. ' Camille Schuler, Medford

Long dedicated, wise

How refreshing to see Dr. Phil Long endorsing parental involvement in their child's education. It is the parent's job to raise children to be contributors to the community.

Phil Long will be a dedicated and wise administrator who never forgets his teaching roots at South Medford High. He will lead a district serving 12,000 students in public schools and thousands more in private and home schools whose parents support 549C schools through property taxes. ' Melissa Martin Stiles, Medford

Long offers stability

I'm a neighbor of Phil Long. He's a wonderful man with an exceptional family. His freedom to homeschool doesn't affect his qualifications ' just like gender, sex, political party, hobbies, nationality and favorite color don't.

His family's education includes many extra items ' like religion, music, foreign languages and more, all at a level not available in the schools. His children are phenomenal and above-average in all aspects of life.

Good for them that they're willing to do whatever it takes to lower classroom sizes, while still doing all for their own children, and paying their full share of educational taxes! He's been reliable, hard-working, loyal, determined and skilled. Is there anyone better, from this valley, that's worked in this district, knows its needs, that wants the job?

He also offers stability, which the district desperately needs! Isn't he the only one left standing after the extensive nationwide search?

I know he's served diligently for years, while doing what is best for his family. It hasn't produced any conflicts of interest before; why now? He's doing something exceptional with his children ' shouldn't we give him the chance to do the same exceptional job for ours? ' Christie deVilleneuve, Central Point

District needs a believer

The Medford School District needs someone that believes in the promise of public education.

The district needs someone that is capable (and willing) to have a positive influence on the methods used to educate our children and his own. Rebuffed by a single teacher, he fled the system without any apparent effort to resolve the issue by further negotiation. What message does that send to educators who would rely on his strength of purpose?

And, of course, Steve Jensen would defend someone who has made a decision similar to his own. It likely makes his own decision feel a little less the cut and run mentality. ' Dirk Watson, Medford

Honoring Dr. Long

Regarding Dr. Phil Long, the front- runner for Medford School superintendent, and his wife's decision to homeschool their children: If their children were in a private school, I think that would be a totally different situation. But, my goodness, he and Lori obviously have the ability, desire and calling to instruct their own children in their own home. What a privilege! We say enjoy it, and don't be hesitant in sharing why you made that choice.

His decision to homeschool demonstrates to this family what emphasis he puts on the value of children. By example, he has chosen to give the ultimate gift to his children. And that would be his time. We like those values!

Submitted not by personal friends, but by involved parents that have three successful children, in three different Medford schools. Dr. Long, we honor you in this matter. And yes, it should be discussed. ' Rob and Karla Larson, Medford

Longs should be commended

I believe the fact that Phil Long and his wife have homeschooled their children should be considered an enhancement to his other qualifications to be Medford School District superintendent.

In Long's essay printed in the Mail Tribune, he states, I firmly believe that parents are ultimately responsible for raising their children to adulthood. Those who bow down at the altar of public education do not believe that. They believe that parents should abrogate that responsibility when their children become of school age.

Long understands that many parents consider a whole range of options as they plan for their children's education. Public schools, various private schools and homeschooling are all viable choices. The fact that many parents choose options other than the public schools helps produce a student population that, I believe, is better prepared to become responsible and productive adults.

Phil Long and his wife should be commended for making the commitment to homeschool their children. Their daughter is likely very well prepared to excel at South Medford High School next year. What more should we ask of any parent? ' Larry Martin, Central Point

No longer skeptical

I, like many people, reacted with a skeptical eye when I heard the news that Phil Long was homeschooling his children and what did this say about his confidence in the Medford school district. Having read his essay to the school board in Friday's paper, the man has my vote.

I believe this is a man of personal conviction, a man who loves his family and a man who takes responsibility for his actions and decisions. I also believe he is just as concerned about the education and welfare of all children in the district as his own.

Our district, like many, has a host of issues to deal with, and it requires effective leadership and insight, skills Phil Long brings to the table. But he cannot do the job by himself. Each of us as parents needs to get involved and contribute our time and our talents to our children. If you don't know how, ask Phil Long. His heart is certainly in the right place. ' Stan Solmonson, Medford

Lucky to have Long

As a former student of Medford School's superintendent candidate Phil Long's I can't disagree more with several comments made about him in recent editions of the Mail Tribune.

Firstly, I take great issue with one woman's comment that somehow Mr. Long hadn't served his time in the trenches to deserve the spot. Trust me, we students of the Class of '91 put him through his paces, as did many before and after us.

Secondly, it is, quite honestly, no one else's business why he and his wife Lori choose to homeschool their children. It could be for any number of reasons, ranging from religious ones to the simple fact that Lori Long is herself a first-class educator and can give her children the kind of individual attention and learning environment she feels they need and deserve. Last I heard, that was called being a good parent, and, if anything, it strengthens my admiration for their family.

Phil Long is a first-rate educator, who taught me a love of words and language I have carried with me in my career as a writer and editor. Medford schools would be lucky to have him at the helm. ' Todd Wels, Grants Pass

Decision doesn't disqualify

The mere fact that someone homeschools his children does not necessarily mean that he doesn't think our schools are adequate or good enough for his children or that he does not have confidence in the teachers of MSD to teach his children.

Many families decide to homeschool for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the local schools. Some find that homeschooling brings their family closer together. Some believe that God has given parents the responsibility to teach their children and they don't want to delegate that responsibility. And some have found, believe it or not, that the family actually enjoys learning together.

That Phil Long finds homeschooling to be the best fit for his family does not disqualify him from administering public schools. I don't know his reasons for homeschooling his children, but in any case I would prefer a superintendent who seeks the best possible education for all children rather than settle for one that is simply adequate or good enough. Let's judge the man on his ability to improve the schools rather than on the personal, private decisions he makes with his family. ' Jessica Hanson, Central Point

Ignorance vs. knowledge

Scott Haupt (Feb. 1) disagrees with Greenpeace's opinion that southwest Oregon has a keystone forest that must be preserved.

Preserved rankles him, because no commercial forest management could be allowed. Preservation apparently means a declining, unhealthy state to him. With forest management, diversity is created to improve forested lands.

He says the difference between preservation and management is the difference between ignorance and knowledge.

Clearcutting great swaths of natural forest still remains a way to diversify, apparently. Off Cedar Flat Road in Williams, one gets a startling view of commercial forestry at work: 117 acres stripped clean of all its trees. After a recent snowfall, its devastation sparkles.

Another way to create diversity: Manage 25,000 acres of federal/private forests for off-road vehicle recreation. BLM says a draft plan is due this spring. Motorcycle Riders Association representatives say one legal enforcement officer can deal with the knuckleheads that misuse the area.

One officer for all 25,000 acres! That's management! The forest creatures will thrive on noise, fumes, erosion, and intrusion into their natural living space. Hey! It's the forest managers' way of bringing more diversity into our keystone forest.

Haupt's right. Ignorance versus knowledge is an issue. ' P.R. Kellogg, Grants Pass

Shady Cove not alone

We are not surprised to learn that Shady Cove is not the only municipality in our county with ethically challenged officials. Our praise goes to Dr. Maurer of Ashland for having the fortitude to stand up in their council and raise that issue so often defended by our officials with the overused excuse: that it is acceptable to infringe upon someone's rights with a biased action because everyone does it. ' Dee Hawkins, Shady Cove

Pollution kills

Driving home to Jacksonville the evening of Feb. — I wondered where the fire was. The smoke was really thick and I hoped Jacksonville wasn't burning. Unfortunately, on Feb. 4 my town was still smoke-filled, and a friend advised me about the controlled burn.

I have a problem with that. I suffer from chronic obstructive disease, also known as COPD. COPD is the fourth leading killer in the USA.

Folks with COPD can't breathe very well. We're especially vulnerable to smoke. The burn resulted in my being unable to enjoy the beautiful weather and take a nice long walk.

Surely there is another way to clean up the forests without polluting the air.

Pollution is not a joke nor the figment of someone's imagination. It can and will kill. ' B. J. Trefren, Jacksonville