Education needs local support
As I write this, SOU students are piling back into a bus to return from a rally they attended in Salem. The purpose of the rally was, unsurprisingly, to voice concern over continued divestment from public education.
While I commend the students who attended and hope it made an impact on those in the state's legislative bodies, two things continue to bother: The rally was attended overwhelmingly just by students, and those students felt the best action could happen at the state level.
Having grown up in this valley, attended public school here through high school and now as a graduate student at SOU, this is not surprising. It seems that education, from K-12 to universities to programs provided by entities such as the local libraries, struggle to gain necessary support.
Given the positive impact, economically and otherwise, SOU could have on communities far outside Ashland's city limits, one wonders why community members aren't more involved. The relative dearth of input and investment from the community in helping SOU not only to right itself but to grow, feels out of step with the generally open and supportive communities in the Rogue Valley.
That, at all levels, we continue to divest from, and ignore the necessity of, public education seems astounding given the positive correlations healthy public education has on communities. Do we care enough to begin involving ourselves in the institutions of public education, both K-12 and college-level, to support them, or are we going to continue to pretend that they exist separate from Ashland, Talent, Phoenix, Medford, Eagle Point and Jacksonville?
Where there's smoke, there's wasted carbon
I was saddened to hear that the Ashland Fire Department will continue this spring burning the watershed to save it from later burning. This is akin to randomly shooting people now so that they won't later be killed.
I've heard all the arguments in favor of "Resilient Stewardship" of the forest, but in my opinion as a former firefighter, this has more to do with logging income and keeping firemen busy than with healthy forests. When the entire world is focused on lowering air pollution, this seems insane.
Let the carbon remain sequestered in our natural forests where it filters our drinking water and don't put more smoke in the air. Haven't we breathed enough?
SOU history proposal is equally appalling
In addition to cutting physics, SOU's retrenchment proposal outlines deep cuts in the history department and even the possibility of cutting the history department, creative writing, languages and economics entirely. This is disturbing at many levels.
As an educator, I assume that students will be able to take courses in these departments when they go to college. Additionally, I assume that SOU's education majors, who plan on teaching high school history, will be educated in the subject they plan to teach.
I am not sure how SOU plans to graduate qualified teachers if there are not courses in physics, creative writing and history. As residents of this valley and as parents whose children I hope will be well educated, we should all be outraged by the lack of funding and poor decision making that has resulted in this most recent proposal. SOU's leadership clearly does not have a wise sense of its path for the future if it doesn't plan on teaching about the past.