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Common core is another control issue. Dumb-down our children and this will make them easy to control.

We got better results from public education 50 years ago than today and look at the money we are spending.

Check out how private schools are doing! Excellent jobs! — Molly Lawrence, Butte Falls

There are those among us who embrace wealth inequality as the motivating principal of capitalism and talk endlessly about the wisdom of our forefathers and the erosion of constitutional rights and loss of individual freedoms due to government regulations.

It will be shocking to them to realize that those who wrote our Constitution were commie pinkos who hoped for the greatest good for the greatest number and were deeply concerned about the destructive effects of unconstrained wealth on our democracy and society.

Search for "Why Thomas Jefferson Favored Profit Sharing" on the Internet to be enlightened. Hopefully, the Supreme Court justices will read this before they again take a sledge hammer to campaign finance reform in McCutcheon v. Federal Elections Commission, aka "Citizens United 2.0." — Ted Gibbs, Ashland

For years I have driven through Talent, Phoenix and surrounding areas when fruit tree orchard spraying is happening. The chemical-trailer is pulled by a tractor with a worker in full biohazard suit with oxygen mask!

These sprays are applied with a rotary fan device that sprays the herbacide/insectacide in a 20-foot circular spray, and when they reach the row's end, they are right next to highways and roads where spray easily covers cars driving by.

This is intolerable, unsafe, and hazordous to our health! Do you want to breathe this stuff, or have your car covered with it?

There's no way to know or avoid this "giant swirling chemical mess," as it happens quickly, and if you're in the wrong place, you get sprayed!

Can something be done to stop or change this unhealthy, wildly haphazard, unsafe method of spraying? — Paul Safady, Williams

I want to thank everyone who fasted and prayed for moisture the first week in February.

It worked. God heard our prayers. Our area sure needed the moisture. — Logan Lowder, Gold Hill

I was saddened to hear that the Ashland Fire Department will continue this spring burning the watershed to save it from later burning. This is akin to randomly shooting people now so that they won't later be killed.

I've heard all the arguments in favor of "resilient stewardship" of the forest, but in my opinion as a former firefighter this has more to do with logging income and keeping firemen busy than healthy forests.

When the entire world is focused on lowering air pollution, this seems insane. Let the carbon remain sequestered in our natural forests where it filters our drinking water and don't put more smoke in the air. Haven't we breathed enough of it? — John Anastasio, Ashland

An amen to Mr. Beck's "recommendation" (Feb. 20 letters). Although not having worked as a teacher, I do admire many of them and their dedication to learning. There does seem to be a great disconnect regarding compensation and hours spent. Possibly it may have to do with many of the teachers not having to work outside of the educational environment. Mr. Beck's comments about hours worked and days worked per year are very applicable to the entire situation.

The benefit package for all PERS participants is mind boggling to most of us from the private sector. In order to maintain my qualifications and improve my opportunities for advancement in my work I had to study on my own time for the majority of it. For almost my entire 40-year career I worked at least 45 to 50 hours per week in addition to time for my educational efforts for my "salaried" 40-hour pay so I'm not persuaded when some writers talk about the hours over "40" that teachers may expend. — Jerry Sands, Medford

Senator Wyden has made a lot of headlines on the National Security Agency controversy, acting as a watchdog for the public's right to know and for government to have open, transparent processes. And yet what he is proposing for the forest industry in Oregon directly violates those values. Wyden's O&C Act of 2013 cuts Southern Oregon residents out of decisions made on public land.

Many farms, wineries, and recreational businesses depend on clean water from our forested public BLM lands. Our local leaders should be working to grow this kind of positive economic development, not trying to clearcut our kids' future.

It's supposed to be the American way that if someone violates the law, they can be challenged in court. If irresponsible logging corporations are tired of losing in court, the solution is not to take away the public right to challenge them. The solution is for those corporations to start obeying the law in the first place. There is no shortage of legal, noncontroversial thinning work to be done on our public lands.

It's time to use some common public sense. Wyden could start by amending the O&C Act to put the public front and center. — Shelley Elkovich, Ashland

State Sen. Alan Bates fantasizes that universal health coverage leads to better access to primary care and to fewer emergency room visits. Seems logical, but it's not what actually happens.

A new study by researchers from Harvard and MIT on Jan. 2, 2014 in the highly respected journal Science reported that expansion of the Medicaid funded Oregon Health Plan in 2008 led not to a decrease but to a 40 percent increase in emergency visits. Forty percent!

Add the common complaints about the difficulty people in Oregon have in finding a doctor who accepts Medicaid, and if they do find one in getting a timely appointment. Then add in the growing shortage of primary care doctors that will take a decade to correct if people are willing to risk trying to make a living as government-controlled doctors.

Everywhere you look, government management of health care is proving to be a disaster. — Valerie T. Smullen, Central Point