To the editor:

Our tax rebate or kicker checks will be arriving soon. This supposed refund to the taxpayers comes to us at the expense of our public education system. In the winter and spring I travel through Oregon teaching part time. Many schools I visit are in need of basic maintenance and major repairs. Staff reductions have left teacher morale and community pride at lower levels.

My personal after-tax income leaves me just barely above the poverty level, so I can think of many things to spend my refund check on. Yet nothing is more important than to reinvest in our public school sector. My tax rebate check will repay society in the long run if it is reinvested instead in the education of our youth.

Here is a direct challenge to all of you, especially those making more than $50,000 a year. Please find it within yourselves to return your rebate amount to the Oregon State Department of Education in Salem, or better yet, to your local school district. Our schools are in desperate need of resources. Budget cuts and lost timber receipts have left many local districts statewide in a sad state of disrepair with disheartening staff layoffs and continuing reductions in curriculum that shortchange the children. What better holiday gift could we possibly give them than our rebates that will benefit our community and our children?

Our Oregon education system ranked in the top five in the nation for over 30 years until over-clever tax reformers and their legislation proposals revised the tax structure and shortchanged our schools. Since then our educational system has declined dramatically in its national rankings while our crime and incarceration rates have increased in tandem. It is far less expensive to educate a population than it is to incarcerate it. If we save our schools and educate our children as a wise investment in our future, all of us will benefit in the long run. Reinvest your tax rebate and invest in a better country.

William Friday