I have attended many School Board meetings over the past year and have heard the 549C School Board members speak of their concern for the students of our district.

Why did the district insist on implementing a contract without the approval of MEA? Why did they turn down a one-year contract that both sides agreed on, the day before the strike?

Of course we all would like a longer contract, but those details could have been agreed upon with our kids in their regular classrooms. Why is the district now insisting on a three-year contract, when MEA and the board are very close to agreement on the first two years of that contract? The two-year time-frame would coincide with the state's biennial financial forecast, giving both the district and MEA accurate revenue information during future bargaining years.

Medford District 549C just got word from Rep. Peter Buckley that the district now has $1.1 million to $1.3 million more than was expected. This is enough to help settle our financial issues. Why is there still no settlement?

I'm not sure of the answer to these questions, but it is certainly not because of the school board's concern for our students. — Marcia Katzmar, Medford

Ruch teachers have class. — Katy Smith, Medford

There is no substitute for the real thing. Please support our teachers. — Bill Meyer, Medford

I support the teachers by paying outrageous property taxes, not by displaying a yard sign. It's too bad teachers then give a portion of their pay to a union that condones bad behavior by some of its members who picket school board members' homes and businesses.

If they aren't making enough money (they are, by the way) then they should ask their union where the money came from to build a $100 million national headquarters in D.C. Then explain to their employers, the property tax payers, why they graduate less than seven of every 10 students. While they're at it, why does the U.S. rank 20th in reading skills, 22nd in science skills and 29th in math skills out of 65 First World countries? — Ken Cockrell, Medford

The overwhelming majority of Medford teachers are hard-working, caring individuals who have earned my respect. Most continue to deserve that same respect by the mature and dignified way in which they are behaving during this strike.

Unfortunately, a few teachers are behaving in ways that are unbecoming of someone paid to instruct our children. Their actions do not help the teachers' cause and serve to turn the community against them.

I know students who have been harassed by teachers for speaking out against the strike. Some union members bully the substitutes and their coworkers who have chosen to return to work for philosophical or financial reasons. Then there are those who picket the homes and businesses of school board members, make harassing phone calls and even vandalize their homes with feces and toilet paper.

Mature individuals show respect to everyone, even those with whom they disagree. I applaud the school board members and the majority of teachers who have behaved with dignity and restraint during this strike. I urge the few "bad apples" in the teachers' union to end their personal attacks and other childish behaviors that reflect so poorly on the rest of their more mature colleagues. — Steve Cannon, Medford

After attending a local rally for our Medford teachers this past Saturday, I was shocked to hear how our students are being educated in the elementary schools. I was informed by one of the classified employees that he is the teacher in charge of a large group. I asked if he is the only one in charge and he replied, "I am teaching the entire group for most of the day by myself."

He said "because there is a substitute on record, I'm having to do all the teaching with the substitute peeking in from time to time." This is appalling and unacceptable to me and solidifies why we are standing by our decision to not send our student to school during these trying times. I have seen the breakdowns from both sides and would have to say that the district's side of things screams "foul play."

The money is there, so enough is enough. My child counts and needs his education. Put our teachers back to work now, so that my student can get the quality education he deserves by his highly qualified teachers on the sidewalks! — Bill Jones, Medford

It's sad. During the strike I haven't noticed any letters to the editor mentioning the importance of unions. How soon we forget. I come from a union family, and we strongly supported strikers. Once wages and working conditions were rock bottom. Children worked in factories. How did that change? Organization into unions. People died. Without a union, you have no power, nobody watching your back — negotiating for you. You are watching a union in action.

Unions are almost a dying breed nowadays. Pride in being "working class" is gone. Now the word is "middle class." Notice how pitiful "middle class" wages are? Teachers are not greedy (please stop saying that). Its the job of the board to give them as little as possible. It's the job of the union to get them the best wage and working conditions possible. — Sandra Baker, Medford

In response to M. Lewis, "thumbs down" to reality shows how little the writer knows about the private sector and what is taking place there. Until I hear the teachers talking with their feet in a mass exodus to the private sector that Lewis seems to think is so wonderful, I will stick with my premise. Teachers need to learn what is real. To quote an old saying, "teachers know where their bread is buttered." — Gale Trapp, Medford

The Medford School Board and administration and the MEA were less than $1.1 million away from agreeing on the first two years of contract proposals. The third year seems to be the hump nobody can climb over.

Since the state and district budgets run on two-year cycles, wouldn't it make sense to settle a two year contract right now and get our kids back to their home schools and full course work? — Barbara Galbraith, Ruch

I talk with my fifth-grade student each night before bed. Tonight we talked about what it's been like to have to ride the bus past her teachers in and out of school each day.

She told me it hurts her to see her teachers on the picket line waving to students. She said, "I can't believe my teachers would do this."

She told me she wanted to make "signs" like the teachers hold and tape them to the windows of the bus. Her signs would say, "You had a choice," "You deserted us," "If you cared, you would have stayed," and "Leaving is not love."

Even she can see the inconsistencies between what teachers say and what they do. The lack of integrity from a group that claims to be acting in students best interest but denies children smaller class sizes?

Teachers don't want more teachers. They want more money.

The strike doesn't hurt my child. She's well above the standard in all subjects. The strike really hurts the middle and bottom third of students. Those struggling with concepts. Those without a strong home support system. The strike hurts those disadvantaged students the teachers claim to for the most. — A. Kent, Central Point

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