Updated: January 27, 2013 6:05AM
Students are priority
As a teacher at East Aurora High School, I understand that many of my coworkers are afraid to speak out on some of the current behaviors, and the political climate, within our district.
I too feel that fear, but my fear of allowing those who hold so much of my fate and reputation in their hands, as well as that of my students and athletes, far outweighs the fear of speaking my mind on issues that so closely concern me, as I have dedicated myself to my career within District 131.
Recently, many of the teachers and coaches at East High School have felt belittled, berated, and abandoned. We have so often been told that we are not doing enough, whether it be with our students or athletes. We have been told that our test scores are too low, our failure rates are too high, and that our athletes do not have the “winning records” that they should.
Anyone who dares to suggest that District 131 teachers are content to fail their students as educators, or to see their students fail in any area of their lives, clearly does not understand the motivation of a teacher.
I will speak on behalf of the teachers at this high school and in this district who spend tireless hours with the students of District 131 trying not only to help them to achieve academically and athletically, but also to become competent, confident, compassionate community members. I ask that people stop spending so much of their time arguing publicly in school board meetings, crunching the numbers, analyzing “winning records”, and above all, placing blame; I ask that everyone be reminded of what the teachers have never forgotten, even while so many others appear to have: The students are our priority, and we must not let them down.
As adults, we must stop pointing fingers, either at the blamers or those who might be blamed.
I am making a plea to our community, which includes our students, our students’ parents and guardians, our teachers, our support staff, our board members, our administrators, and any other citizen who is truly invested in the success of our students: Please stop theorizing about who is to blame, and take a deep look into what you have been doing to help the students, instead of critiquing and criticizing those who work tirelessly each and every day to help our students succeed.
Finally, a Medicare
Buried in all the bad news about long-term deficits in Medicare is a little talked about success story: Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit signed into law by President George W. Bush.
A survey of enrollees reported in USA Today this summer showed that almost 90 percent are satisfied with the program. In addition, the premiums seniors pay average $30 per month, well below the $54 estimated when the law went into effect in 2006. The cost of the program to Medicare is 43 percent lower than estimated when it passed into law. How many entitlement programs can say that?
And because seniors can afford to take their prescriptions they are staying out of the hospital and skilled nursing facilities saving Medicare $12 billion annually or about $1,200 for each enrollee. So why does Part D work so well? Simple. Part D allows competition between competing plans. This simple fact allows seniors to choose among various offerings based on the plan of benefits and cost. Part D providers drive a hard bargain with drug manufacturers and then compete to get seniors to choose their plan. If a plan doesn’t provide quality service at a good price they know seniors will choose another plan next year.
But seniors need to be vigilant. In a desperate search for revenue to fund other government programs, some are urging Congress to put a whopping 20-23 percent tax on some drugs sold to Part D plans. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former Director of the Congressional Budget Office estimates this would increase seniors Part D premiums by 20-40 percent.
Before I retired I helped businesses purchase quality health benefits for their employees, so I am familiar with how the healthcare system works. My clients always did best when we gave employees choices among plans and benefits. Medicare Part D’s competitive model is working. The politicians should leave it alone.