Letters to the Editor for May 27, 2011

By Baker City Herald Readers May 27, 2011 12:51 pm

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 profit. 
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 recession.
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