Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

Single-payer system is coming

To the editor:

In Pete Sundin's recent letter to the editor, it appears he is a believer in the hodgepodge of over 1,000 private insurance corporations in control of the nation's health care: the most ineffective and costly health care system in the developed world.

U.S. health care costs twice as much as in other industrialized

nations.And what does it buy us? A 37th rank among nations on the

healthiness scale of the World Health Organization!

We don't get what we're paying for, because insurance companies use a

third of what we give them for processing claims, marketing, and


62 percent of bankruptcies in the U.S. are brought on by medical

debts.And two-thirds are filed by persons with health insurance!

Locally several times a year caring citizens put on fundraisers to help

out families hit by catastrophic health care costs.

The rest of the industrialized world has single-payer health

insurance.Our Medicare for seniors is a single-payer system spending

about 4 percent on processing claims, while insurance companies spend

about 30 percent.

Congressman Paul Ryan's proposal to privatize Medicare, endorsed by

Sundin, is just more of the same inefficient corporate-controlled

management we presently have.

The U.S. will eventually be forced to go to a single-payer system (a

type of Medicare for all), because the cost of our present wasteful

system is just too expensive.

Gary Dielman

Retiree, Medicare recipient

Baker City

State needs to tap education fund

To the editor:

Editor's note: Mr. Dixon sent this letter to members of Oregon's Legislature:

I am writing to stress an ongoing concern with the status of education

in these economically challenging times.As a school district we are

faced with an ever decreasing amount of funding and an increasing

burden of mandates and standards.While this has an impact on all

levels of education, it is extremely damaging to the most needy

populations.Remedial teachers, aides, and intervention specialists are

the first positions we lose in these difficult times.As a small school

with only one teacher in each subject area, we are hard pressed to cut

core positions.Therefore, those positions that are designed to close

the achievement gaps, help "at risk" children and provide for RTI are

where we are forced to reduce.

This year I have had to eliminate a classified paraprofessional and cut

a Title position to half time.Both of these positions could be saved

if the Education Stability Fund was accessed for the additional $100

million suggested.These positions have a direct and immediate impact

on students.Ironically, Title I specifically addresses math and

reading.These two content areas are assessed for AYP, are the two

areas where the standards have been raised in the last two years, and

are the two areas that evidence proves that students need to have

success in by third grade if they are not to face struggles throughout

their educational careers.It is sad to me that the future and success

of education seems to fall on the shoulders of teachers who are

expected to work harder for less. This pattern has been historically

time proven to create burnout and the failure of many enterprises and

entrepreneurial ventures.

The education of our children today hopefully will lead to less need

for prisons and social services for generations in the future.Please

prioritize with funding what so many of us prioritize verbally.Invest

in the students of today in order to provide a brighter future for

Oregon and the nation.

Lance Dixon


Powder Valley Schools

Struggling schools will keep working

To the editor:

On behalf of the Baker 5J School Board and administration, I would like

to extend my personal "Thank you" to the members of the Local Option

Tax Committee.

The effort you put into helping your community is very much

appreciated. I would also like to thank all those persons who supported

students, families and their community with your positive votes.

Many wonder why the school district even tried a local tax. Unlike

other branches of government, schools must always balance their budgets.

When revenue shrinks, so do school budgets and in turn the programs and

staff to support our children. We are still challenged to keep our

schools open and we will do the best we can with the resources allotted

to us.

However, when faced with huge fiscal cuts caused by cuts in the budget

of the State of Oregon and the loss of a significant piece of federal

funding, we needed your help. Help to support a major community

institution like our schools.

Not only a resource for our children and families but also a leading

employer. And with the potentially catastrophic outcomes to many Baker

City families it is appropriate, ethical and moral to put the measure

to the people before the pink slips went out.

Asking for help was a good thing, and necessary. In the weeks and

months ahead it will be a difficult time for our district as we have to

lay off many talented educators, paraprofessional and administrators.

The school district did carefully and significantly make preparation

for this election result with our planning of the four day student week.

This will provide an avenue through restructuring to increase

student-teacher contact time, enrich student choices and offer a high

quality education for our children. We believe that high quality

schools are a key economic driver if Baker City is to rebound from this


We look toward the end of this school year with a heavy heart. We will

again graduate another outstanding class of students to go out into the

world and become successful members of society. We will also say

goodbye to many wonderful staff members. Yet, come August, our schools

will open and the remaining professionals that work in them will

continue to provide students with an exceptional educational experience.

Walt Wegener

Superintendent, Baker 5J