Letters - May 24 2008

Stand with veterans

Who are veterans of the United States military? They are the men and women who place their lives on the front line without asking for much in return but gratitude and appreciation from their country. So why are our rights neglected?

There is gross mishandling and inadequate treatment of veterans by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and their failure to honor their commitments to vets. I have been fighting the VA to recognize my claim for 16 years. But they don’t have my files.

I don’t even know where my VA files are today. In New York, they say the files are in Washington, D.C. In D.C., they say the files are in New York. I don’t think the VA knows where they are, which means I may have to reconstruct my claim all over again.

Do veterans need to have their records lost several times?

I say stand up for and with veterans of the United States of America. They did it for you with an arm, leg, hand and body. They gave their best for their country.

I was looking at “Walker, Texas Ranger,” and it was about this homeless veteran named “Soldier” and I started crying when he wanted to kill himself because he thought everything he tried wasn’t working.

I have felt as though my country has neglected me by allowing me to go through this war after coming home as an enlisted soldier.

Chauncey Robinson

Albany NY





The tragedy of Reading First: more than corruption

In “No Child Left Behind reading program marked ‘failure’,” author Rosita Johnson provides an accurate description of the most recent failure of Reading First and the extreme corruption connection to the program. The article, however, concludes that the goals of Reading First are “laudable” and seems to accept their claim that it is based on “scientific research.”

Reading First is based on the report of the National Reading Panel, which has been thoroughly dismantled by a number of respected scholars. Moreover, the recent failure of Reading First is only the latest of a number of failures. It has consistently failed state, national and international tests, despite the huge cost and extra time in reading instruction. Example: The secretary of education consistently claims that reading scores on the NAEP, a national test, are at an all-time high. But nearly all the increase occurred before Reading First was implemented.

Yes, the cronyism and corruption of Reading First are a tragedy, as the article concludes. But the tragedy goes well beyond this. It is also the wrong approach to helping children learn to read. The analogy with the war in Iraq is striking: The reasons for both were wrong, the implementation didn’t work, and Friends of Bush are profiting (and continue to profit).

Stephen Krashen

Los Angeles CA

Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus at the University of Southern California read the article online. It appeared in print in this issue





Solidarity tours

I traveled to Cuba and Venezuela for two weeks with U.S. trade unionists. In Havana, our group stayed at a hotel owned by the CTC, the Cuban trade union federation. Our delegation (many UAW members from Michigan) was invited to a whole series of events that included visits to factories. At a perfume factory, 60 workers took a break to greet us, and let us visit their production line.

A highlight for all of us was our visit to the headquarters of the CTC, which is also a campus with thousands of live-in students learning the history of the Cuban labor movement.

After seven days in Havana, we flew to Caracas, Venezuela to attend a labor congress. We could feel the electric-like tingle in the air in the city of Caracas. The struggle by President Chavez and a majority of Venezuelans to advance their revolution is under attack by the usual culprits.

On the menu is socialism and the very wealthy don’t care for anything on the menu. The struggle continues.

Jesse Kern

St. Petersburg FL

Dental care is a necessity

Every day, thousands of children from Illinois’ working families are forced to forego basic dental care. Many of these children — residing in rural as well as urban regions of the state — live with painful tooth decay that results in school absences, the inability to eat, sleep or study properly, and over time, increased risk for other serious health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.

In many cases, families in rural and urban Illinois are forced to take off days from work and drive more than 300 miles to find a dentist that takes Medicaid patients.

Illinois dentists have accepted the charge to improve access to dental care throughout the state. We are among the founders of the Bridge To Healthy Smiles Coalition (www.bridgetohealthysmiles.com) currently working with the state legislature to heighten awareness of this critical health problem and ultimately break down barriers to dental access in Illinois. Our three-part plan includes increasing funding for Medicaid dental care (Illinois has one of the lowest reimbursement rates in the nation), opening 10 new dental clinics in 10 underserved areas by 2010, and forgiving a portion of student loans for those dentists who agree to practice in underserved areas.

We can’t do it alone. Government, business leaders, insurance companies, healthcare professionals, patient advocacy groups and individuals all need to work together to improve access to dental care in Illinois. Illinois families need effective solutions to solve their dental care needs.

Robyn Gabel

Chicago IL

Robyn Gabel is executive director of the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition



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