Letters to the Editor

Posted: Monday, December 30, 2002

Lack of affordable dental care means children have to suffer

You know, I'm having a difficult time understanding why the dentists are so worried about the new CPHC dental clinic causing competition. If you're so worried about it, have a two-for-one filling day or a half-price X-rays sale.

Stop penalizing the under-insured. If you're a good dentist, your patients aren't going anywhere.

Where were all these kind-hearted dentists a year ago -- when my 12-year-old daughter broke her front tooth and was in pain? I called every dentist listed in the phone book for Kenai and Soldotna. Not one would help her without payment.

You have to realize most of the people who will use this clinic are our children. Yeah, sure there's a local dentist who will see little kids -- If he's accepting new Medicaid patients at the time, but the rest of our kids can't get the care they need locally.

You know, just once if I'd been given the option to pay the balance of what Medicaid did not cover, I would have gladly paid it -- because some coverage (help) is better then none.

Astrea Piersee, Soldotna

Vocational education needs a real fix -- not more politics

I read and reread with great interest the article about vocational education that appeared on the front page of the Clarion Dec. 12. I agree with the need for vocational education here and in America. This has been, for many years, a subject in which I have had great interest. We are losing our skilled labor force. When was the last time you saw an unemployed plumber that didn't want to be? When was the last time that you heard a kid say that he or she had encouragement and was thinking of becoming a plumber?

But that is about as far as I agree with the approach that the article reported. For 25 years I have watched as the educational system on the Kenai Peninsula has systematically dismantled what little vocational education there was. I have seen equipment surplused out, having bought some at borough auctions myself; I have seen students having to repair equipment before they could learn to use it; courses have been dropped instead of marketed; unqualified teachers have been assigned to "teach" vocational courses in order that they might be kept for more "important" jobs, such as coaching; counselors have a come-apart if a student expressed an interest in not preparing for college. And on and on.

Businesses which used to work with and support vocational programs have given up in frustration. I have heard the comment that there is just no staff, understanding or facilities to work with anymore.

Now that vocational education has broken, they come along and say "we have a problem and we need to form another bureaucratic layer to fix it." This will take more time and money away from the classroom.

"The system" knows what is wrong, they made it wrong. In addition, there is a need to change the attitude of the personnel presently in the system while rebuilding what was taken apart. It will be a long building job, one that would not need to be done if the system had done the job they were charged with doing in the first place. Serve the educational needs of the community, all the community. Don't leave any kid behind, assist them all to become good citizens at every level of society. That has been the job all along. Now, just do it and stop studying what was broken by taking it apart.

William L. Hightower, Sterling



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