News flash to Medford schools: "Reading First Doesn't Help Pupils 'Get It' " is the headline in Education Week's May 7 issue. The article says a new Reading First Impact Study finds "students in schools receiving grants from the federal program have not fared any better than their counterparts in comparison schools in gaining meaning from print."

"It's a lot of money, and a lot of hard work being done by teachers and others, and you would hope to see some progress," said a member of the federal Reading First advisory committee, calling the results "disappointing."

The Oregon Department of Education named a Medford elementary school as a demonstration school for the very Reading First instructional approach found to be flawed. Now the respected principal of that school has resigned, and the teachers union has formally opposed hiring instructional coaches mandated by Reading First. Perhaps teachers know more than educrats.

During my algebra teaching career, I saw countless costly experiments sputter and fail. Rarely are classroom teachers consulted; policymakers and publishers promote school "reforms." Medford has a new math curriculum for kindergarteners, meant to better prepare them for algebra. Back to basics, or fuzzy discovery math? Here we go again. — Betty R. Kazmin, Medford

In your recent editorial "Another step along the road", you make the case that "Gradually, Americans are coming to realize that a person's sexual orientation is not a threat to those who do not share it." This is in reference to the recent California Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage. You later say that this is "one more step toward society's eventual acceptance of same-sex couples as deserving of the same protections heterosexual couples enjoy". Then you state that the people don't possess absolute power, in lieu of the courts.

1) Same-sex activity is not a civil right in the Constitution, it is a behavior. 2) Under our form of government, all power rests with the people, not legislators from the bench. 3) Sexual orientation is not a threat. What could be more natural than man marries woman? 4) Under our Constitution all are equal. The question is morality and what bounds we limit in a civilized society.

With due respect, the Mail Tribune doesn't need to be popular with the ever-changing culture to be relevant. Some change is destructive — like making it illegal to burn refuse, but legal to burn Old Glory. It's time for no change ... — Joel R. Marks, Medford

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