Dear Editor:

The competing statistics on public school performance are a bit overwhelming (Solveig Torvik, “Hello?” column, March 27, and “Consider the conditions,” letter to the editor, Ed Parker, April 10). I agree with Mr. Parker that underlying poverty in the United States is a serious, contributing factor in poor school performance. More important, I agree with Ms. Torvik that our basic values tolerate economic inequality and do not support developing a superior public education system. So much for “family values.”

Mr. Parker ambiguously mentions efforts to privatize public school funding money. He fails to acknowledge that this really means taking money from traditional public schools to support charter schools.

There is no question that there are some wonderful charter schools. At the same time, independent studies (not the spin from the well-funded charter school lobby) show their performance overall is no better than public schools. In fact, a 2009 study by the Center for Research on Educational Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University found that: “[A] decent fraction of charter schools, 17 percent, provide superior education opportunities for their students. … [O]ver a third, 37 percent, deliver learning results that are significantly worse than their students would have realized had they remained in traditional public schools.”

Nonetheless, rich and powerful charter school lobbies are pushing for more charter schools and more management of them by for-profit corporations.

I strongly believe in public education. I just wish there was a way to make our culture support it like in Finland, and not just by giving it lip service. I am not optimistic. At least, we are very fortunate in the quality of public education in the valley.

Randy Brook, Twisp



Dear Editor:

I am writing in response to Lorna Smith’s column (April 3), “Why are we so afraid of wolves?”

It’s not the wolf itself, it’s the killing they do to our deer and livestock that I’m afraid about.

I have a friend who lives in Arlie, Mont., where the wolves are abundant. He states that the wolves have completely destroyed the elk herds in his area – and are now preying on the deer.

He also states that the economy has really suffered in the area as the sportsmen are not coming to hunt anymore.

Also, there was an article in the April 2013 Western Horseman magazine. One of the featured articles was “Range Riders of the Upper Green.” The story is of Doc Foster – his main job was caring for the cattle. He states that dealing with the predator-livestock conflict took most of his time – that the wolves attack the cattle herd in a pack and focus on dragging the cattle down by the back and hindquarters. “They are killers,” Foster says. “They [wolves] eat the heart, liver and lungs and then go on.”

Is the wolf an animal we want protected in our area?

Seems like several new wolf pairs have just “arrived” in Washington state lately.

Betty Wagoner, Twisp