Descent, Online Learning — Letters for August 3, 2022

Siuslaw News Letters to the Editor

August 3, 2022 — (Editor’s Note: Viewpoint submissions on these and other topics are always welcome as part of our goal to encourage community discussion and exchange of perspectives.)


Online Learning Helped Me Be A Part Of My Child’s Education 

As a parent of two kids under six, my schedule requires flexibility. We’ve found that online education makes that easy.

I heard about Cascade Virtual Academy (CVA) while looking for schooling-at-home alternatives; I didn’t have the expertise or confidence to teach my kids myself but wanted them to be challenged academically with me by their side. I found support from the enrollment coordinators and my daughter is thriving in online school. 

Savannah is an active kindergartener and academically, nothing compares to her learning at CVA. She is challenged in her coursework, and material is presented in meaningful ways. Her teacher is incredibly supportive and intentional, pushing her to succeed.

As Savannah’s learning coach I can look ahead, see what is needed for the week, and school comes with us on the go. I wanted my kids to socialize as they would usually, and the schedule flexibility gives Savannah the opportunity to be in gymnastics, Girl Scouts and the Boys and Girls Club.

Learning online has enabled me to be a part of my child’s education, and we love the support. I’m given pointers to approach learning topics so Savannah doesn’t get bored — there is nothing like knowing your daughter is receiving an education optimal for her. I hope all families can find the stability and success we did with online school.

— Devon Weinstein




In The Midst Of Our Descent

It appears that we are in descent: not merely decline but descent; descent from strength and prestige and greatness, from conscience and civility and honor; a descent to dishonesty and deceit and downright skullduggery.

It began with the political paranoia of the Goldwater years, the rise of the John Birch Society in the backwater town of Hamilton, Mont., and the narrow-minded, isolationist cry of “America for the Americans” and has grown over the years into the situation in which we now find ourselves. Though Trump is not the cause, he is, nonetheless, the perfect manifestation of the problem. It is he, with the help of Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, who has brought it to a head and will carry it to its conclusion, a conclusion which may result in the ultimate destruction of democracy in America.

The party of Mark Hatfield and Gerald Ford, even of George H.W. Bush, which stood, at one time, for decency and honesty and which, 10 years ago, was struggling for its very existence, has re-emerged as a new version of its old self, emphasizing its most negative aspects and none of its positive ones. It is a skeleton of itself, stripped down to its bare bones consisting mainly of greed, selfishness, repression, coercion, servitude (that is, in the service of Trump), dishonesty and the desire for power. These attributes are at the heart of the Republican Party now; the good elements, the humane ones — courtesy, compassion, civility and kindness — have been washed away as in a flood, or deemed impractical or unnecessary.

The Republican Party has never been progressive. It has never introduced voting rights legislation, for example, or significant education or health bills. Indeed, by its very definition it wants to halt growth and keep things as they are. There have been times in its history when it has even striven to return to a previous time. “We’re the bright young men who want to go back to 1910, we’re Barry’s boys …” went a satirical song from 1964 when Barry Goldwater was the Republican nominee for president. It was, then, the “party that lost its head.”

It may seem as if one should not blame a single political party for this impending doom, that, since all these negative elements are part of the human condition itself, all of us are to blame. There is some validity to this.

Yet, blame the Republican Party I do, and, furthermore, the entire right-wing. It is they who have let loose these particular “dogs of war.” It is they who, in their struggle to maintain political power, have brought these negative elements to the fore, and in so doing have both destroyed themselves and are now in the process of destroying America.      

Even the Supreme Court, the ultimate arbiter of all that is just, has fallen under the influence of their reactionary politics.

McConnell has led the attempt to pack the court by helping to usher in three right-wing justices who were clearly anxious to reverse the Roe vs. Wade decision of 49 years ago. The Supreme Court has gone on to strike down a 100-year-old state law regarding hand guns in public places, and to weaken the administration’s fight against global warming. The result of all this has been to set the country into a tailspin and infuriate many of its citizens.

Out of some misplaced fear, the Court is trying to lead us back to a fundamentalistic view of the nation and of the Constitution which guides it.

It is as if the Constitution were a static document and not one which was meant to grow as the country grows, one which is subject to renewed interpretations and understandings. It is in this that its greatness lies. It is not a dead document which needs no further interpretation and analysis and development.

There have always been debates about how the Constitution should be read, but this is the first time that the strict interpretationists, who have previously been in the minority, have won out and, by so doing, have put our country in chaos and set the rule of law on its ear.

It is clear, I believe, that we are in the midst of our descent, and it is our job to observe the ways that this is happening, to determine the cause, and then to set about remedying it. The destruction of our democracy, and with it the destruction of the greatness of our nation, is at stake.

I am reminded of a poem by Yeats: “Surely,” he says, “the Second Coming is at hand.” The second coming! — a rebirth, perhaps, but one, I fear, which we will not recognize nor appreciate. And If it comes it will be in the form of a “…rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouch[ing] towards Bethlehem to be born.”

— George Durant



George Durant is the author of a book of personal essays entitled “Essais: A Life Examined in the Style of Michel de Mongtaigne.” He and his wife have recently moved to Florence from Beaverton, Ore.