Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

Early Learning Hubs: County, newspaper downplay threat

The Baker City Herald's editorial board has made the same mistake as Commissioner Fred Warner in thinking Early Learning Hubs (ELH) are a repackaged program with a new name and more money. They are not. These hubs do not replace existing services, nor do they replace the funds needed to run existing services. ELHs are a brand new layer of educational bureaucracy.

But then, the distribution of false information is how these hubs were sold to Commissioners Warner, Kerns and Stiff last March.

To set the record straight and correct Friday's misguided opinion piece:

This is not a conspiracy. These programs are fact. Those who are "kingdom building" with their special programs and padding their budgets, need to understand what they are trying to bring into Baker County. To sell out our babies for a $50,000 grant is irresponsible. President Obama talked about his Early Learning Hubs in his State of the Union Speech. Once again he bypassed Congress using the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, to temporarily fund universal preschool and birth to age five Early Learning Hubs. Oregon House Bill 2013 passed down this Obama vision to local communities. Obama wants these programs to become mandatory once they have their foot in the door with multiple hubs in every U.S. state andndash; 16 in Oregon alone.

One of the most disturbing elements of ELHs is the requirement of targeting all families in the name of Obamacare andndash; not just impoverished or at-risk children.From Oregon HB 2013 Section 6(3)d: "(d) Target, at a minimum, all first-birth families in the county prenatal families and families with children less than three months of age and provide services through at least the child's third birthday."

History has shown what "from birth" involvement by the state has done to other countries. Just look at Russia, China, Germany, Cuba and Austria to name a few. Talk to anyone who experienced early learning in these countries and they will tell you it changed the family unit, custom and culture of their countries forever in an incredibly negative way. The editorial said, "Every interaction a child has from birth to kindergarten doors has an effect on the rest of their life." This sentence is true. If the state interferes with the bonding of the child with their family, what happens to the family unit? What happens to local family custom and culture? The liberals think, a la Hillary Clinton, it takes a village to raise a child; it doesn't. It takes a family.

The Executive Committee of the Baker County Republicans researched this issue for months, as have other central committees throughout the State. We are confident in our research and the data we discovered about this Obamacare program. But don't take my word for it; check out this White House link:http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education/early-childhood and see for yourself. We have other documentation and links to websites that verify this program. Baker County may not have been chosen for a first-round ELH, but the issue still remains for round two in 2014. The two current Baker County commissioners who signed onto this project were misinformed, and it appears they don't want to back down and admit they were wrong.

The Herald's opinion piece is just that, an opinion, as editorials are. Upon closer inspection, the editorial doesn't point to any error in our facts, but uses emotional words such as "conspiracy" and "sinister" to set its tone. The undeniable facts are there for anyone to see, but it does take more than a couple of hours of research to discover the truth and form an opinion that isn't based in ignorance.

In closing, please think about this:Here in Eastern Oregon most everyone gets very upset about the loss of gun rights (or road closures) and will fight to defend their Second Amendment rights or keep their forest roads open. Just replace the word "gun" with "babies." Isn't it worth protecting the family unit, our history and culture with the same passion?

Suzan Ellis Jones of Bridgeport is chair of the Baker County Republican Central Committee.

Teacher of the year looks back on remarkable year

"Often we set out to make a difference in the lives of others only to discover we have made a difference in our own."

- Ellie Braun-Haley

When selected 2013 Oregon Teacher of the Year last November, I was given the honor to represent and advocate for the teachers of Oregon. Surreal, humbling, and grateful are only a few of the adjectives I chose to describe the award. Today they seem inadequate to portray the defining, life changing opportunities this role gifted me. At that time, I did not comprehend the many individuals who would leave fingerprints on my heart as the year progressed. I have been inspired by exceptional teachers, school employees, administrators, parents, legislators, and community members. They have widened my perception of caring individuals striving to provide our children with the best education possible.

Now that the year has come to an end, I struggle describing my feelings accurately but a huge thank you is at the top of my list. I am forever indebted to many individuals who assisted me this year. First and foremost, I would not have survived the year without the multitudes of patience and understanding from my husband, Tracy, and children, Brittney, Adam, Michelle and Kourtney.

Additionally, I express gratitude to my friends, parents, students, and co-workers at the Baker School District. One of the many things I acknowledged this year is having the privilege of working for a district who demonstrates excellence.

Finally, it is imperative I recognize the community of Baker County. It has been a pleasure to represent the pride we have in our community. I enjoyed sharing with others, across the state and nation, your commitment to make a difference in the lives of our children.

The educators I met challenged and motivated me with their enthusiasm and stories. As I have said many times, I am not the "best" educator in our state nor district, but it has been an honor to represent the teachers of Oregon who work hard preparing students to thrive in an ever changing world. My professional journey does not end here. I will continue to evolve and earn the honor bestowed upon me. I sincerely thank you for your support this year.

Nanette Lehman

2013 Oregon Teacher of the Year

2nd grade, Haines Elementary

Harlem Ambassadors look forward to returning to Baker

On Nov. 12 the CASA of Eastern Oregon and Baker City Rotary Club hosted the Harlem Ambassadors professional show basketball team for a night of high-flying slam dunks, hilarious comedy, and feel-good family entertainment.

The Harlem Ambassadors would like to extend a special thank you to event organizers Mary Collard and Kari Borgen who planned and promoted the game.

The ALLSTARS for KIDS proved to be an energetic and enthusiastic challenging team and we thank all of the players for their good sportsmanship. The event would not have been possible without the support and generosity of local community sponsors, the CASA of Eastern Oregon and Baker City Rotary Club members, and the event volunteers.

The Harlem Ambassadors thank the community of Baker City for its warm hospitality and look forward to returning to Baker City in the future!

Dale Moss

Harlem Ambassadors president

Fort Collins, Colo.