Citizens! Alert! The 549c School Board and administration are discussing elimination of football and basketball in the high schools to offset the budget shortfall in the coming school year.

Just kidding. It is worse. They want to eliminate music education in the grade schools while privately expressing strong support for early music education. What gives?

Music participation enhances brain development more than most individual activities (even football and basketball) by simultaneously emphasizing language, reading, math, physics, rhythm, team building, history and fun.

Rather than cut and later rebuild an essential educational foundation for our youth, cut all programs in equal proportion. Or cut costly administrative redundancy and expense and start combining school districts. Does this small county really need eight? Sing on! — Eric Overland, Medford

We have a beautiful National Cemetery in Eagle Point that is the last resting place for approximately 14,400 veterans that paid the ultimate price. On Memorial Day, one of the honors they are given is a flag placed on each grave. This year several groups participated in putting out flags, among them Boy Scouts, Eagle Scouts, and elementary school students.

However, there is no one to pick up the flags the day after Memorial Day — all the kids are back in school. A call went out over the local TV stations that volunteers were needed for flag pickup. What a sad commentary that with the size of Jackson County only 12 people showed up to help with the project.

Without more volunteers in the future, flags will not be put out on individual graves. Don't our deceased veterans deserve at least that small flag each year? — John Waldrop, Medford, Military Order of the Purple Heart

In his Sunday Guest Opinion, Republican Rep. Dennis Richardson says this is no time to raise $800 million in new taxes because 243,000 Oregonians are out of work, (unprofitable) businesses are closing, homes are being foreclosed and food stamp applications are at record highs (so too are unemployment insurance claims). He then asks, "What are the Democrats thinking?"

I am not a registered Democrat, but I have to ask Rep. Richardson what he is thinking. Most of the proposed tax increases are to be imposed on large, profitable corporations and individuals with personal annual incomes in excess of $250,000. I have a hard time believing that individuals with insufficient or no income, of the types described above, fall into these two categories.

Perhaps Rep. Richardson has just disclosed who he really represents in Salem. — Rob Morgan, Eagle Point

Our state is enduring an economic crisis that affects every person living here. I know there are no easy answers, but I also know there must be a more equitable way to balance the budget rather than on the backs of our state's most vulnerable citizens who have given and lived through so much.

Recent budget proposals would mean 38 to 40 percent cuts in services that help keep seniors and people with disabilities in their own homes and communities. That's amazingly harsh and disproportionate.

Stripping seniors of such important services and their independence, choice and dignity is just wrong. Nor does it make sense financially or as public policy. Caring for people in nursing homes is considerably more expensive than allowing them to receive care in their homes, and thousands of caregivers would lose their jobs, rendering them unable to contribute, through taxes, to the state's coffers.

Please urge our lawmakers to find a balanced solution that preserves key services for our state's seniors and protects jobs. — Roberta S. Greene, Medford

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