Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

Early Learning Hub warnings a scare tactic

In reading Suzan Ellis Jones' guest opinion in local newspapers last week, I'm reminded of the fairy tale that includes the warning, "The sky is falling. The sky is falling." So, what is the impending calamity? Our children, Jones claims, are about to be ruined by Early Learning Hubs.

It would be "irresponsible," writes Jones, "to sell out our babies for a $50,000 grant" that would subject the little children to state interference "from birth to kindergarten." Somewhere she read - she doesn't say where - that early involvement has had a negative effect on kiddies' lives in Russia, China, Germany, Austria, and Cuba. "Talk to anyone who experienced early learning in these countries and they will tell you it changed the family unit." Yet Jones quotes not one person she's talked to.

Jones boasts that the Baker County Republican Central Committee, of which she is chairperson, has "researched this issue for months."

Well, it took me just a few minutes online to discover that Oregon's Compulsory School Attendance law does not require school attendance of any child under the age of eight (ORS 339.010). So, even if Baker County had an Early Learning Hub offering free services to children from birth to kindergarten, the state has no authority to require parents to use the services. Even kindergarten attendance is not mandatory in Oregon.

Jones will say her committee already knows all that, but shouts out another "the sky is falling" warning. Obama wants to make ELH's "mandatory." Yet she cites not one authority for that statement.

Nor does Jones tell the reader anything about the services ELH's would provide. Nevertheless, she admonishes that ELH's would "interfere with the bonding of the child with their (sic) family," which would screw up "family custom and culture." That scare tactic was used years ago by opponents of kindergartens. Well, we all know how empty that "sky is falling" warning was. In School District 5J, which offers non-compulsory kindergarten, there is almost 100 percent voluntary participation on the part of families with kindergarten-age children.

Gary Dielman

Baker City

A president's death, and an uncertain future

Thank you for the commemorative issue on Nov. 22, the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. Surprisingly, I read very little of it, since I was a college sophomore at the time, and don't recall that 1963 date so much as an event but rather as part of an era.

My generation was the one where grade and middle schoolers were exposed to the "duck and cover" ads as a means of surviving a nuclear attack. We witnessed, via TV, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev banging his shoe on the table at the UN and announcing that "We will bury you!" We saw the much touted American Vanguard missile, set to launch the first artificial satellite into orbit topple over on its launch pad, and a little later watched the Soviet Sputnik orbit high above our heads.

Then Kennedy defeated Nixon, everything seemed brighter and the world loved our First Lady.

The Bay of Pigs. The Cuban Missile Crisis. Strange news and unfamiliar names showing up on newspaper front pages. Names like Madame Nhu, Viet Cong, Hanoi, Saigon.

We young college men, all of draft age, grew increasingly nervous. Loveless marriages were entered to avoid the draft. The draft was universal back then and unless we were missing an arm or a leg and could prove it to the draft board, or get a deferment, we would soon be marching, saluting and...dying.

Against this backdrop came Nov. 22, 1963. The first rumor I heard was that Bobby and Jackie Kennedy had been shot, but the truth finally emerged. The president was dead.

Classrooms sat empty that afternoon and the next day's finals cancelled. It was standing room only in places with a television as we sorted through the seemingly unending reports from Cronkite, Rather, Huntley and Brinkley, and many more. We watched the funeral parade, witnessed the quiet dignity of Mrs. Kennedy, smiled at John-John's salute to his father, as we fought back our tears.

We had a new president now, and we braced ourselves for a future we had not before envisioned.

John Sublett

Baker City