August, 2011

Seasons of Renewal

Editorial Comments
by Deborah Steele Hazen

There are several times during the year when the opportunity for renewal seems not only available, but ripe for the picking.

Fall is one of those times.

It may be the end of the harvest, the death of the summer, the old age of spring, but – not unlike the September of a human life – it is a season of change, whether for good or bad depends on us – our attitudes and our faith that the future can be bright.

With the exception of the Labor Day North Coast Big Band concert in the Clatskanie city park this coming Monday – which we hope our readers will choose to enjoy – the spring and summer festivals are over. Our thanks to the hard-working volunteers who made them happen.

If you didn’t participate in, volunteer for, or donate to the Raymond Carver Writing Festival, the Memorial Day observances, Clatskanie Heritage Days, Rainier Days in the Park, the United Way of Columbia County’s Rhythm on the River Blues Festival, Friends of the Library Book Sale, Clatskanie Foundation Appraisal Fair, the community-wide garage sales in both Clatskanie and Rainier, and the Clatskanie Bluegrass Festival and Quilt Fair (not to mention other activities around Northwest Oregon) – you missed out. We hope you will be involved next year.

But now it is September and a whole round of new activities, events and volunteer opportunities await.

Changing Education

Uppermost in many people’s minds is the start of the new school year.

Education, knowledge, a love of learning, the ability to continue learning in all kinds of situations throughout one’s life – those are among the greatest of human gifts.

But, the systems and processes of education are changing. We might wish things to be as they were when we were young, but they aren’t.For the sake of our children, we must be willing to adapt.

The economic recession, Oregon’s school funding system, the declining student enrollment in our small rural school districts, the constantly escalating costs of payroll and benefits, the myriad of unfunded federal and state mandates, the increasing alternatives of delivering educational services, such as homeschooling and online charter schools – all are combining to force changes in our public school system.

We must salvage the best of the old system, and embrace the most promising of the new.

One example is the sharing of services and programs between the Clatskanie and Rainier school districts in order to expand the electives and advanced courses available to students from both schools.

We congratulate the school board members, administrators, counselors, teachers and support staff who have worked so hard for many months in order to work out the issues – aligning the annual calendars and daily schedules, deciding what classes would be offered at each school, transportation, record-keeping, the synchronization of computer applications, etc.

Those of us not intimately involved in untangling the complications of making it possible for this “sharing” to occur, cannot fully comprehend how difficult it has been, but we can appreciate the perseverance and creativity of the people who operate our school districts.

Undoubtedly, there will be hitches along the way as the sharing plan is actually put into practice with the beginning of the new school year. We hope students, parents and the public will be patient and supportive as the Rainier and Clatskanie school personnel work cooperatively to resolve them.

The fact is that 30-some students from each school district – over 60 young people in all – will have better educations, will be more prepared to go to college or other post-secondary opportunities because two neighboring school districts – traditional rivals – decided to work together for the benefit of our children and their futures.

Good for them! Good for us!

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