Letters to the Editor for May 13, 2011

By Jayson Jacoby, The Baker City Herald

Let's work together to solve problems

To the editor:

Baker County has some serious problems.

Baker ranked 29th out of 33 Oregon counties in health outcomes. One-fifth of Baker County residents do not have health insurance. One out of every four Baker County children lives in poverty. More than half of the students in our school system are on free or reduced lunch, and only 57 percent of students in the district graduate on time. The median family income in Baker County is $36,106: 30 percent below the national average. These are not the numbers we associate with a healthy community. These are statistics that paint a picture of a county with severe social and economic problems.

These statistics should be cause for alarm. We need to acknowledge

these problems, and take concrete action as soon as possible. The Baker

City Herald should be running an article about these issues every week.

If there has been any progress toward improving the socioeconomic

situation in this county, we certainly haven't heard about it.

I don't mean to imply that Baker County residents don't care about each

other. Indeed, our community is a group of people that care about

people. We can see it during the food drive, in the ways that the

community comes together to support those stricken with severe

illnesses. But these actions aren't solving the underlying problems;

rather, they are a well-intentioned attempt to stop the bleeding.

Change has to take place from the ground up, and must involve people

from every part of the community. If we as a community fail to act,

efforts to solve these problems are doomed to failure. Every person has

the right to a living wage, access to medical care, and a solid

education. These are not radical ideas. These are community values. We

are all in the same boat. Join with us in working for economic equality

at every level by logging into Facebook and visiting

http://tinyurl.com/BCProgress or add me as a friend to continue this

conversation. Together, we can make sure everyone in Baker County has a

seat at the table.

Elliott Averett

Baker City

Baker teachers back tax levy

To the editor:

The Baker School District is asking for the voters of Baker County to

pass a local option tax that will help stabilize our school funding

over the next five years. As educators in the district we support this

option tax on the basis that it allows for the district to maintain

services, programs, and standards that our community expects and


This tax is a chance to take some control over the amount of funding

our local district receives. This option tax was proposed with the

purpose of saving existing programs, maintaining a full calendar year

for our students, and keeping class sizes manageable.

During the district discussions about the levy, there has never been

any indication that the money would be used for anything other than to

maintain current services and programs. School district employees have

given furlough days, have seen insurance premiums (out of pocket

expense) increase yearly, and have not had a salary schedule raise

since 2007.

With a vested interest in this local option tax, the Baker Education

Association and its members want to give our students and our community

the best opportunity available. Voting yes on this local option tax

conveys to students, schools, and the community that we care about the

quality of education our students receive.

The Baker Education Association represents teachers and other certified staff in the Baker School District.

The Baker City Herald
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