Focus on public schools
I have no idea who Leeann Bennett is, whose letter to the editor was published last week, but her extensive review of the problems with education in Arkansas hit the nail on the head!
What an outstanding diagnosis of the problems from cultural factors of: family involvement, teacher impotency and incompetency, failure of classroom discipline, and abandonment of one of our country's basic tenets, universal education in public schools. If we ever have a "czar" for genuine public education, she should be considered.
I am a volunteer in the Arkansas Literacy Program and the last three students I tutored are graduates of local high schools, but "Dick and Jane" would be a struggle for each of them. However, one was a good linebacker and the other could shoot 3-pointers.
It was my good fortune to attend a hot shot high school in another state and over the stage in the auditorium was inscribed: "The spirit of a people is to be seen in the education of its youth."
And therein is either the glory or the curse of this community's education of our young men and women for their future.
James Daniel Sanders
Case for private option
The Arkansas Chamber of Commerce says businesses in our state will face $27 million to $40 million in tax increases if the legislature doesn't renew the private option. Arkansas's private option, approved by a bipartisan supermajority of the state legislature, uses federal Medicaid funds to provide insurance-premium assistance to Arkansas families living near or below the federal poverty line. With the private option, Arkansas set an example that is attracting national attention.
For the first three years, the federal government picks up 100 percent of the cost of providing premium assistance for these policies. If Arkansas chooses to continue the program after that, a small state share would begin in 2017 and top out at 10 percent in 2020. Most of these 250,000 people who will receive this insurance are working Arkansans who can't afford insurance or those whose employers do not provide health-care benefits.
As of February 2014, more than 100,000 Arkansans have gained health care coverage through the private option. Arkansas families need and appreciate the opportunity to finally get health insurance. A study by RAND Corp. shows that increased health coverage through the private option will save an estimated 1,100 lives every year. The private option means access to regular check-ups and preventive medicine. One death from lack of access to healthcare is one too many.
Arkansas families need and appreciate the opportunity to finally get health insurance. The private option will reduce the burden of uncompensated care that we all end up paying for in the end. There will be jobs created and billions of dollars injected into our state's economy. As a relatively poor state, Arkansas will see a net increase in payments from the federal government of about $430 million per year by 2016. In 2014, we will begin to see savings in current Medicaid spending that can help fund tax cuts. Gov. Mike Beebe has warned lawmakers they'll have to repeal tax cuts or reduce services if they don't continue the state's plan to expand insurance coverage to thousands of low-income residents.
The private option means growth for Arkansas business in several ways. If workers are eligible for private plans through the private option, there's no obligation for businesses to offer those employees health plans through the business — that saves businesses money. Furthermore, reimbursements to providers are much higher in private health insurance plans than under traditional Medicaid. Doctors, hospitals and others involved in healthcare will all benefit.
As we continue our bold initiative to revamp our healthcare system, we are becoming a model state that others may emulate. Unfortunately, there are still some who for political reasons are rooting for its failure. You can dislike the Affordable Care Act all you want to, but you can't change it unless you go to Washington, DC. In Arkansas, we must stay focused on the health of our people.
Victor J. Rojas
From the web
In response to last week's Arkansas Reporter, "Creationism in the classroom in North Little Rock":
Sorry to hear about this in the hallways I used to roam (back when Principal Tackett was Coach Tackett). The ACLU will teach them. Hopefully they don't waste too much district money trying to fight it. Creationism versus evolution is a religious (mostly Christian) concept, not an academic concept.
I love how the quotes from Tackett and Brazear show their total ignorance (and obvious bias). "Both" sides are presented, they say. Of course they totally misunderstand that a discussion of creationism should examine creation stories from dozens of cultures and religions not just the Hebrew (or mono-theistic) story. These stories span the globe and could easily be integrated into a social sciences or world history course. This would be a more legal way for these educators to insert their religion into the curriculum.
Creationists view evolution as the enemy, as an offensive attacker. Anthropologists (and their philosophy professor friends) hiss and growl and want to confuse young, Christian, wide-eyed college freshmen into atheism. The fact is, anthropologists study data and base their conclusions on them. The data supports evolution, but not creation. I know Dr. Dino and his friends come to church and say that the anthropologists' own data opposes the idea of evolution. Unfortunately, they use the same old data that either has been debunked or has never passed scientific-muster in the first place.
These educators do their students a disservice. They are critical of the ideas they have been told are wrong without being critical of the ideas they have been told are right. If they would be objective they would come to the same conclusion as those who wrote the curriculum they object to (without betraying any of their religion).