Gun control no way to stop gun violence
The concept of gun control to stop gun violence is very simple. It’s like trying to stop a schoolyard bully by all the little weak kids agreeing that they won’t fight back. The concept of Second Amendment gun rights is also very simple. It’s like all the little weak kids having the opportunity to walk to school with their big, football-player brothers.
If the idea of gun control to stop violence really worked, we wouldn’t want to stop there. We could end all crime by getting rid of our police and sheriff departments and we could end all fires by getting rid of our fire departments. We could also end war by getting rid of our military. How can people honestly think this might work? Where would we be today if, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, we had just thrown all our weapons into the Pacific Ocean? We fought back then and as individuals and a nation, we need to fight back now. We need to refuse to be victims. The bad guys have firearms and they won’t stop using them just because the rest of us quit. And our self-protection weapons need to be as big and capable as what the bad guys have.
The campaign to curb the use of studded tires on Oregon highways rolls on.
When legislators convene Monday for the 2013 session in Salem, they’ll have at least three bills to consider.
Two would add a fee for each studded tire sold in the state. HB 2278 sets a $10 per tire fee, and HB 2397 calls for a fee to be established later.
HB 2277 would require drivers to obtain a permit before driving with studded tires. The state would calculate the cost of the permit by dividing the estimated cost of damage to roads caused by studded tires, by the number of vehicles equipped with such tires.
HB 2277 deserves a categorical rejection. Gauging damage caused by studded tires is little more than a educated guess.
HB 2278, though, has merit.
Although we’re studded tire supporters, it can’t be denied that these tires accelerate the wear of pavement compared with non-studded tires.
A modest fee — we like 5 bucks a tire rather than 10 — would help to pay that extra cost without putting studded tires out of financial reach for Oregonians who benefit from their unique qualities.
Alternative energy not a panacea to problems
Electricity from wind farms costs around four times as much as that produced by conventional electrical generators. Ever wonder why? After all, once the towers are in place, their fuel is both free and inexhaustible. Why is it so much more expensive?
It’s partly due to the nature of wind itself. Sometimes it blows; sometimes it doesn’t. Say a wind farm has the capacity to power 30,000 homes. But when the air is calm and still, those wind towers are generating absolutely no electricity. So that wind farm must be paired with conventional generators which can provide the missing electricity when the wind isn’t blowing. You see the problem: to provide that 30,000 homes’ worth of electricity, there must be two facilities with that capability, not just one, and that’s costly.
When the wind does blow, it does not do so consistently; there are sudden gusts, and sometimes lulls. So if you were getting all of your electricity from a wind farm, you would suffer a series of frequent power surges and/or brownouts, an intolerable situation and another reason for the pairing of wind farms and conventional power plants. The latter are needed to smooth out the erratic power generation of wind farms. Since the conventional generators must be ready to instantly increase power to alleviate wind lulls, they must be running all the time. This means that they are often burning fuel (and so giving off carbon dioxide) yet not producing any electricity whatsoever.
Still another factor is that the most dependable sites for wind power seldom are close to the metropolitan areas which they serve. So wind farm electricity must be sent long distances, and much is therefore lost through electrical resistance in the wires transmitting it.
The problems discussed above are intrinsic to wind power, and cannot be alleviated through engineering. Great Britain’s wind farms have been giving the English a demonstration of the above problems. Solar panels also use a free, inexhaustible fuel, but since the sun doesn’t shine all the time either, Spain’s solar power facilities have difficulties similar to those of wind power.
Time for Eastern and Western Oregon to separate
Either the gun control bill in Congress will pass or not. As I write this it appears there are enough votes to stop Dianne Feinstein and her army of banners from destroying the Second Amendment. Everything has been said on both sides. By now you should understand that the right believes owning firearms lets us defend ourselves and makes us capable of resisting tyranny and is essential to maintain freedom. The left is just as convinced that if they disarm us everything will be sweetness and light and evil will disappear. No more deaths do to violence or at least a lot fewer.
What pro gun people should understand is that even if this battle is won they will be back. Urban America grows and rural America shrinks as to relative size and make no mistake, banning guns is an urban idea. We see things in mirror images. We are red and blue states and red counties inside blue states. Deep cultural issues divide Eastern and Western Oregon and if you Google “state partitions” you will find that forming new state boundaries isn’t such a quaint idea. Washington recently had a bill in their state legislature to divide Eastern Washington and the idea has been proposed in numerous states, usually citing geographic and cultural differences.
I call on Representative Bentz and state Senator Ferriolli to introduce legislation to get the process started and Congressman Walden to introduce similar legislation in the House of Representatives. Our cultural differences in regards to guns, statewide land use laws, wolves and other issues aren’t just areas of minor differences they are at the core of life. If the same fire and zeal that is being displayed over the Wallowa-Whitman’s travel management plan would translate into a new state movement we could get somewhere. Think about it gun owners, you usually have a firearm with you while riding and firearms are at the very center of freedom. It is time that east and west went their separate ways.
Guns: Good for government but not for we the people?
The Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting. Independence was not won from deer and elk; it was won by shooting the British with the most advanced weaponry available at the time.
The Second Amendment is to ensure that we the people will always be on the same playing field as the government, and subsequently, the government would always fear us rather than vice versa. A citizenry with limited or no firepower is the first ingredient in a dictatorship or even genocide. Can’t happen here, you say? Consider Red China, the Soviet Union, Uganda, Nazi Germany, and Cambodia among others. Millions of disarmed people killed by their governments, all within the last century. I am sure they thought it would not happen to them.
Let’s say our all but already tyrannical government is full of angels and only has our best interest in mind in taking away/limiting our weapons. I take personal responsibility for protecting my family. Counting on police is a rather foolish option given factors like distance, availability and sometimes incompetence, as was the case in New York recently when two police trying to kill one man, at almost conversational distance, wounded nine bystanders. Not the type I want protecting my family.
The Department of Homeland Security wants fully automatic “Personal Defense Weapons” with 30-round magazines that collapse to from 30 inches to 20 inches. Good enough for the feds personal defense but too good for our defense? Is the government that much better than we the people?
The only problem related to guns is that we lack morals and consequences.
We slaughter millions of babies every year then act surprised when some teenager has no respect for human life. We release criminals after short jail times and act surprised when they commit the same crime again. People would think twice if the punishment for their actions were more like this: rape someone, you get hung on Main Street for a week, steal, you lose a pinkie, shoot up a school, get shot starting in the extremities until you die.
I recently received, as an extra special gift for subscribing to Motor Trend magazine, a digital watch of spectacularly shoddy construction.
I mean this timepiece could cause widespread suicides if you brandished it in the fine shops of Bern and Zurich.
But it’s not the watch itself, which I expect will stop working properly along about St. Patrick’s Day, that intrigues me.
It’s the one-page owner’s manual that came with it.
At least I think it’s supposed to be an owner’s manual.
This publication, which is printed on the kind of flimsy paper that lines tins of Altoids mints, combines illiteracy and bad translation in a way that is both frightening and hilarious.
Its mistakes are so frequent and so outlandish that I wonder whether the whole endeavor is intended as a joke.
If so it’s a devilishly clever one.
The watch, I should mention, was made in China. Probably you figured that out.
The lunacy starts with the very name of the thing: “Waterproof Cold-Light Sportwatch.”
The waterproof part I understand — although I doubt the watch could survive even a heavy dewfall.
But I’m clueless as to the significance of “cold-light.”
The watch’s LCD digits do indeed illuminate at the push of a button. But I can’t detect any change in the temperature of the watch, or of its immediate surroundings.
Apparently the makers of the watch consider the cold nature of the light a valuable attribute, though, because the manual uses the adjective consistently.
In one instance it’s the “cold night” button but I suspect that’s just a typo.
And it’s not the only one.
• “moreng” for “morning”
• “lighr” for “light”
• “agarn” for “again”
These misspellings are as nothing, though, compared with the tangled syntax and at times incomprehensible diction that permeates the manual.
I am, for instance, cautioned against wearing the watch “in broiling or freezing environment.”
I try to steer clear of broiling environments as it is, whether I’m wearing a watch or not, so no problem there.
But even in the more temperate environments to which I am typically exposed, I sometimes sweat. Including my left wrist, which is where I normally attach a watch.
Unfortunately, “the resin-made watchband may ageing crack or break when bear sweat or damp.”
I take this to mean that my sweat could foul up the watchband, or at least its constituent resins, whatever those might be.
Except what if the watchmaker means, literally, “bear sweat,” as in ursine perspiration?
I don’t know if bears actually sweat. But I imagine that if they do they’d have to get pretty riled up first, and I don’t want to be anywhere near a bear that’s so agitated it’s sweating. I’ll bet the sweat’s erosive effect on the watchband would be the least of my worries in that case.
In fact the manual says “any rough use or hard shock may cause damage” to the watch.
I’m afraid a sweaty bear could get pretty rough, and administer quite a lot more than a hard shock.
It turns out, though, that even if I’m scrupulous in avoiding sweat and bears and the like, that watchband, and specifically those mysterious resins, could give me trouble.
“If you find any white powder in the watchband,” the manual tells me, “wipe them off with cloth, the powder would not cause any burt to your skin and clothes.”
I’m not comforted by this, and not just because the watchmaker writes “burt” when it must have intended “hurt.”
Frankly I’m suspicious of any watch that, in the ordinary course of usage, produces white powder, no matter how benign the white powder is supposed to be.
The possible presence of powder also complicates the task of disposing of this watch. And I might need to do this even before it expires, because the thing sounds a chime at the top of every hour, a sound that annoys my wife and which I can’t figure out how to turn off, if indeed that’s even possible.
The manual, needless to say, is no guide, offering as it does such crystalline statements as: “Different types have different patterns, but have same functions and operation ways.”
For the time being I’ve stuffed the watch beneath a stack of summer shirts in my dresser. The layers of cotton and polyester effectively block the hourly beeps, although I confess that I worry about the fabrics’ resistance to resinous white powders.
Whatever happens with the watch I intend to hold on to this manual. It tells me to do so, for one thing:
“Keep well the operation instruction and other attached files for necessary use in the future.”
The manual was not accompanied by other files, attached or otherwise, but keep it well I will.
I might want to tell someone about this slip of paper years from now.
And I’d much rather be able to refer to the genuine article than to try to dredge its amusing incomprehensibility from my memory, which lately is about as reliable as, well, a Chinese-made Waterproof Cold-Light Sportwatch.
It would require a considerable level of naívete on our part to expect the Baker School Board, after more than a year of regular acrimony, to suddenly embrace a spirit of unity.
We don’t expect, as the cliché goes, board meetings to conclude with a rousing rendition of Kumbaya.
Yet even after a period that included the vote to censure board member Kyle Knight, a failed attempt to recall board members Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson, and Knight’s lawsuit against the district (which was settled in December), we do expect more from our elected board members — on both sides of this ongoing dispute — than they demonstrated last week.
The occasion was the extension of Superintendent Walt Wegener’s contract. The board voted 3-2 to add one year to Wegener’s deal, which now continues until June 30, 2015.
Although we don’t think Wegener needs a three-year contract — two years offers him sufficient security — the board’s decision to tack on another year is not unreasonable.
The same can’t be said, though, for parts of the written performance evaluation of Wegener that Henderson and fellow board member Andrew Bryan compiled, and that they and Burroughs approved. Henderson and Bryan recommended in the report that the board extend Wegener’s contract through June 30, 2015. Burroughs, Henderson and Bryan voted in favor of that extension.
One passage in particular in the report seems to us unnecessary and inflammatory. In the section headlined “Additional Comments,” Henderson and Bryan wrote:
“Our strongest recommendation is for Walt to specifically disengage as much as possible from the ongoing pressures of board members with agendas, divergent philosophies of district administration, or lack of fundamental understandings with board function and administrative rules.”
In other words, Wegener ought to ignore the two board members — Knight and Jim Longwell, who aren’t mentioned by name and don’t need to be, so obvious is the inference — because they don’t agree with everything Wegener does.
Besides being bad advice, this recommendation insults residents of the district who support Knight and Longwell and expect them to act as effective representatives on the school board.
Which bears directly on our other complaint.
Knight and Longwell, though they voted against the motion to extend Wegener’s contract, did not participate in evaluating him.
Longwell declined to say why he didn’t do so.
That’s not acceptable — our elected officials have a responsibility to explain their actions, or inactions, to their constituents.
Knight at least offers an explanation, pointing out that during his nearly nine-month censure he didn’t receive Wegener’s weekly reports.
But that excuse rings hollow.
Knight has attended meetings during that time, and since he feels that he is sufficiently well-versed on district operations to vote against extending Wegener’s contract, he ought to be able to explain why.
Informative letter from judge, D.A. and attorney
What an excellent, informative and straight-to-the point opinion shared with the community by Judge Baxter, D.A. Shirtcliff and defense attorney Moon in their written plea, “Don’t put 8th-graders at BHS.”
Their experience with the law and the many cases they have presided over draws due attention to what it’s all about — real lives.
So it turns out you can get paid for being a bad driver in America.
If teenage boys ever find out about this, the auto industry might be in financial trouble beyond even the rescue of the federal government.
I probably could have graduated from college debt-free.
You can also get a check if you sold your car because you were afraid it was infected with the electronic version of the poltergeist that made the TV go fuzzy in that movie from the 1980s when Craig T. Nelson’s hair was brown.
Maybe it’s not only the lawyers who benefit from our litigious society after all.
This financial windfall is limited, however, to owners (or former owners) of certain Toyota models.
The Japanese company recently settled a class-action lawsuit related to a phenomenon that bears an egregiously misleading name: unintended acceleration.
This implies that your Toyota, right when you’re pulling into a parking spot, might decide it’s actually in the left lane on the Munich-Stuttgart autobahn and there’s a Porsche 911 Turbo looming behind, its headlights flashing frantically.
Indeed, I suspect quite a lot of people, were they asked about the controversy that embroiled Toyota a few years back, would today give an answer along the lines of: “Right, all those Toyotas that would accelerate out of control, even after the driver jammed on the brake pedal. Right?”
Sadly, the facts in this instance were rendered, if not meaningless then a lot less important, by an onslaught of photos of crumpled Toyotas and breathless descriptions of bewildered drivers.
And so we come to a situation in which the world’s largest automaker has to shell out an estimated $1.4 billion merely because some people claim that they think their Toyota was dangerous.
Even though experts — including some of those rocket scientists from NASA — say that’s not so.
This annoys me.
Not because I happen to own a Toyota. It’s an FJ Cruiser, by the way, a four-wheel drive that wasn’t involved in any of the recalls or lawsuits that have plagued the company since 2009.
Nor do I have any financial interest in Toyota (the FJ, fortunately, is mine free and clear).
What galls me, rather, is that people are going to get money because they, or some of their fellow citizens, occasionally push down on the go pedal when they meant to push, well, the other one.
(With most cars being automatics these days, there are only two pedals to choose from; it’s not as if driving a modern automobile is equivalent to playing a pipe organ in a Gothic cathedral.)
Among the allegations that fueled the anti-Toyota crusade was that the company’s electronic throttle system was affected by some mysterious gremlin among its tens of thousands of lines of computer code.
(This is “drive-by-wire” technology, with no physical connection between the accelerator and the engine.)
A 10-month investigation by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) put paid to that myth.
Which leaves two other potential avenues leading to Toyota’s liability.
Only one of those, though, seems to me legitimate.
On certain of the models implicated in this scandal, the accelerator pedal could “stick,” investigators found. Yet even in those cases, the vehicle’s brakes were more than capable of stopping even an accelerating car. Of course the brakes won’t work if you don’t push down on that left pedal.
The other culprit was beyond Toyota’s control — some thick aftermarket floormats could “trap” the accelerator pedal.
But again, as with “sticky” gas pedals, a driver can avoid a crash by simply putting on the brakes.
If Toyota is responsible for drivers who install floormats that look like shag carpet from the ’70s, then the company that makes those naked lady silhouette decals better beware the next time some guy with a couple of the things stuck to his back window reverses his truck and crunches a Prius.
“The sticker got in the way and I couldn’t even see the car,” the truck’s driver says.
Ultimately, though, this Toyota mess has little to do with sticky pedals and fluffy floormats.
The NHTSA investigators concluded that in the “vast majority” of the cases they studied, the driver of the rogue Toyota either stepped on the gas instead of the brake, or stepped on both pedals at the same time.
And in most of the latter cases, the brakes, as they were designed to be, proved more powerful than the engine, and the car stopped.
The bottom line, then, is that the term “unintended acceleration” is accurate only in the sense that the drivers who fouled up didn’t mean to push the wrong pedal.
But their mistake isn’t Toyota’s fault, any more than Specialized, the company that built my mountain bike, should be liable because I went over the handlebars and got dirt in my teeth after I thought I could swerve around the sagebrush.
I mean I didn’t intend to clip the thing with my foot, so my accelerated tumble into the puckerbrush could fairly be described as “unintended.”
Toyota is not altogether blameless, to be sure.
The NHTSA — the same agency that exonerated the company from the “ghost in the machine” lunacy regarding the electronic throttle — has fined Toyota about $83 million for failing to notify the agency soon enough about possible issues with floor mats and sticky gas pedals.
That’s seems fair to me.
As for the rest of this fiasco — and by far the more expensive part — I have nothing but contempt.
It’s bad enough that Toyota’s products are branded as dangerous based on a fictitious flaw.
Even worse that people are fattening their bank accounts on the fantasy.
Jayson Jacoby is editor
of the Baker City Herald.
Ban any guns with detachable magazines
The blood-splattered classrooms at Sandy Hook Elementary and the 26 photos of the now-dead children and teachers call us to use our utmost creative intelligence, both mental and spiritual, to solve a seemingly intractable problem.
Intellectually, we’re asked to take a closer look at which weapons of war we allow in our community, while still observing the Second Amendment. Obviously, our modern weapons are many times more lethal than they were when the Bill of Rights was ratified, and today we prohibit civilian possession of machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, for example, without violating anyone’s constitutional rights.
NRA President David Keene warns us that detachable ammunition magazines in, say, our Bushmaster AR-15s and our Glock 19s take only seconds to change, thus greatly multiplying their killing potential. The profane tragedy in Connecticut provides a ghastly demonstration. It seems reasonable to conclude that we must now prohibit any guns with detachable magazines of any capacity.
By comparison, “The Guns that Won the West,” the Winchester rifles and Colt revolvers, had fixed magazines. If we limit ourselves to modern guns with fixed magazines holding about six cartridges, we will surely go a long way toward protecting ourselves from mass slaughter. A generous buy-back program could fund the transition.
We can also reduce the number and accessibility of guns in our neighborhoods and insist on adequate storage safety. The late Nancy Lanza had seven guns. Eight guns were recovered from two recent residential burglaries in Baker City. We need to ensure wise and competent gun ownership.
Spiritually, I believe we’re asked to gently heal the obsessive fear and harsh condemnation that blocks reasoned debate, obscures our shared humanity, and spurs us to become what we hate. Texas Governor Rick Perry tells us to pray for guidance. I agree.
In addition to the Second Amendment, our Constitution promises to insure domestic tranquility and promote the general welfare — which means our well-being: health, happiness, and prosperity. I urge us all to search our hearts and minds to discern the full intent and meaning of all the provisions and protections of our marvelous Constitution.
Fight to protect our Second Amendment rights
During my 91 years as an American, I have watched the slow deterioration of our individual rights and freedoms. God bless our Oregon sheriffs and those in so many states across the U.S. for their guts in refusing to carry out any orders that would infringe upon our Second Amendment rights. I’ve long admired Sheriff Arapaio of Arizona for bucking the federal government, including both our president and Congress who fail to enforce border security, which is a duty of our government stated in the Constitution. Our government “walked” 2,000 guns into the hands of the Mexican drug cartels who used them to kill 300 or more people, including Americans, while our own border patrol guards were only allowed beanbag rounds with which to defend themselves. On top of these failures, Obama now wants to begin stripping Americans of our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms while at the same time pushing for the Small Arms Treaty with the U.N. which would give the U.N. the power to police Americans, thereby giving up our national sovereignty. Obama just took his second oath to uphold the Constitution. Words are easy, but how unconstitutional his actions are!
Taking away our gun rights makes as much sense as trying to stop drunk driving deaths by making it harder for sober drivers to buy cars. We need to fight for our Second Amendment rights. That amendment was put in place for good reason — and that reason was not about hunting. That amendment allows Americans to protect ourselves from a tyrannical government. Do our elected officials demonstrate the epitome of morality, ethics, character, common sense, integrity or self-restraint? Absolutely not. All the more reason to make sure the inalienable rights in our Constitution are preserved.
Ann E. Racey
Don't put 8th-graders at BHS
We are writing you to warn of some of the legal dangers that lurk if eighth-grade students are placed at the high school. Because this is one of the options being proposed with our current overcrowding issue, we are publicly warning about the dangers of this choice.
We understand that the school board has many difficult decisions to make due to our continuing challenging economic circumstances, but we urge you most strongly to think very carefully before placing adolescents between the ages of 13 years to 19 years together in the same school building. Your decision will be in place for many years, long after many of us are no longer in our current positions of service to the community.
Under Oregon law, youth under the age of 18 years cannot consent to sexual relations.
Yet the Legislature recognizes that some youth engage in sexual relations voluntarily. Because of this, the Legislature created a defense if the victims’ lack of consent was due solely to incapacity due to age. The defense only applies if the actor is less than three years older than the victim at the time of the alleged offense.
Under current Oregon law, all citizens 15 years of age or older are subject to Oregon Revised Statute 137.700, which is known as Ballot Measure 11. This statute requires mandatory prison sentences when a person is convicted of specific crimes. Four of these crimes apply when the victim is under 14 years of age. These crimes are Rape in the Second Degree, Sodomy in the Second Degree, Unlawful Sexual Penetration in the Second Degree, and Sexual Abuse in the First Degree.
Why our concern? For many years we have prosecuted, defended, or judged cases in Baker County and have dealt with these types of cases. We are very aware that our concerns probably don’t apply to the vast majority of the students at the high school. However, we have seen some good kids let passions get out of control or use poor judgment regarding relationships.
Many eighth-grade students are 13 years of age for all or most of that school year. To put these immature youth under the age of 14 years with older, more sophisticated youth may be a recipe for a life-altering disaster. The results of these actions, whether done with bad intent or not, will then be catastrophic for all involved. Should a 16, 17, 18, or 19-year-old youth become involved sexually with a 13-year-old eighth-grader and be convicted, the result is a mandatory 75-month sentence in a youth correctional facility or prison. This cost to society does not count the emotional price paid by the victim, community, and others.
When we say become involved sexually, we want people to understand this includes a touch over clothing upon the private parts of another for a sexual purpose.
Anecdotally we have asked many adult women what age boys they were most interested in when they entered high school. The answer is almost universally, “the older boys.” When they are asked if they think their interest in older boys would be different if they were eighth- graders at a high school, the vast majority still felt they would be interested in older boys.
We choose not to paint the picture any further. We are sure you are well aware of the foibles of adolescence. We would rather see parents help their teenagers through these difficult years. Please consider the non-economic price paid by society and, specifically, the youth if these acts should occur. Placing eighth-grade students at the high school increases the risk of such a price being paid by youth making dumb choices.
Judge Greg Baxter presidents over the Baker County Circuit Court.
J. Robert Moon Jr. is a Baker City defense attorney.
Matthew B. Shirtcliff is Baker County district attorney.
Speaking of ‘United States’ should include ‘Of America’
On Sunday, I cringed as I watched Barack Obama take the oath to be president of the “United States.” Which “United States?”
For me, it should have been president of the “United States of America.” Isn’t that what we say when we salute the flag? “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the ‘United States of America.’ ” After all, there are “united states” in other countries in the world, aren’t there? Of what country is Obama going to be the president? Well, in utilizing my faithful computer and referencing the Preamble and the Constitution itself, somewhere I found one referral to the words “United States” as the “informal” name of our country. Whatever. For me, I am a citizen of the “United States of America.”
I’d be happy to help put up flags on King’s day
On Monday, the 21st of January, the weather was quite cold but it was not raining nor was it snowing and the wind was not even blowing but there was something missing on Main Street in Baker City. It was a federal holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King and it was also Inauguration Day. Where were the American flags? If I recall, I have never seen them displayed on Martin Luther King Day here in Baker City. I am sure that putting out the flags in our community is a volunteer job. If the people who do this have headed south for a warmer climate, in January, or are unable to tend to it, I would be happy to volunteer to put the flags out on Martin Luther King Day and I am sure that I would not be alone.
Where were the American flags on a double holiday?
I was in town today (Monday) and was surprised at the lack of the American flags on display. I thought maybe I was mistaken so tonight I researched online. The premier experts are from http://americanflagfoundation.org. I was right. Flags were supposed to be flown today both for the inauguration and Martin Luther King’s birthday. So what happened? Somebody asleep?
A recent article in the Baker City Herald describes criminal charges filed against men who were involved with the Baker Web Academy three years ago. I’ve been a BWA board member for almost a year. In that time I’ve been privy to audit details, I’ve met stellar educators, and I’ve come to know dedicated board members who serve the best interests of our children.
My kids have been BWA students for almost three years. My eldest Sarah is a BWA junior enrolled in the Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer degree program. She is simultaneously earning a high school diploma and an associate’s degree that will fulfill all lower division requirements at any four-year college in the Oregon University System. If she enrolls in an Oregon university, it will be as a junior classman. Sarah participates in extracurricular athletic programs at Baker High School, and has been permitted to enroll in a class at BHS when space was available. Her teachers will tell you she is a good student. I will tell you that Baker City is fortunate to have community-minded school administrators who provide flexibility and excellent choices in education.
My son Ben was a BWA student until two months ago, at which time he transferred to BHS as a freshman. Although his sister prospers in the online environment, we discovered that at age 14, Ben seemed better suited to a traditional classroom setting. The BWA and BHS staffs were extremely helpful in achieving a seamless transition, and his teachers will tell you that he arrived well-equipped to perform.
My youngest, Katie, spent her kindergarten year in the 5J school and is now a first-grader enrolled at BWA. In addition to our preference for a “home school” environment for Katie, we also like the flexibility, the attention from staff (by telephone), and the excellent selection of available curricula.
The Herald article referred to BWA as “a public relations dilemma,” propagating a regional perception of the school that is unfounded. The academy has received attention for low achievement test scores, but the majority of BWA students who failed to meet minimum test benchmarks were enrolled at the school less than one academic year at the time they were tested. Those scores are not attributable solely to BWA, but rather at least equally to the school districts where the students obtained the preponderance of their education.
In past years, many of the academy’s new enrollments were transfer students who were failing in other public school programs. BWA was becoming a revolving door for a large number of students who enrolled not because they were attracted by the opportunities, but rather because they had no other choice. The quality of education at BWA is excellent, but the challenging curriculum and work requirements are infrequently a good fit for a student who lacks the desire to excel in academics.
This year BWA has initiated enrollment counseling and student learning programs to change that revolving door dynamic, and has also worked with 5J officials to develop community-wide perspectives on addressing the needs of all types of students.
Baker City does have kids who need the services BWA can provide, and my kids are at the front of that list. The men described in the Herald article who were accused of misuse of education funds are past history. We are years past those events, and give them no thought in our daily operation of an excellent K-12 school.
David Spaugh is a Baker City resident.