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Letters to the Editor - Lakeville Journal - 1-17-19

All races are equal

In reference to Tony Piel’s letter in the Jan. 10 issue of The Lakeville Journal, I say, “Thank you, Tony.” To think that in the year 2019 science is still claiming that black people are less intelligent than whites. This bogus science feeds into the thinking of bigots and racists, of which, unfortunately, there are many.

Just imagine for a moment your child going to school or the library, etc., and reading there is “scientific” proof that black people are not as intelligent as white people. What do you think that does to a child of color? Don’t you think it could give a white child a false sense of superiority? It is immoral, cruel and untrue for anyone, let alone a scientist, to write such garbage.

There isn’t any race less than the other and in the year 2019 we should already know that.

Thank you again, Tony.

Gretchen Gordon

Sharon

 

History may inform the Trump administration’s policy

Much is being made in the media about the Trump administration’s intent to cut the number of troops in Afghanistan and to leave Syria. Perhaps the administration has a sense of history its critics do not have or cannot accept. During the raj in India, the British conducted operations in Afghanistan for more than 100 years and won many battles against the various hostile tribes in that country. When they finally left that region in the 1940s, nothing had really changed in Afghanistan.

The Russians attempted to accomplish what the czars could not and invaded Afghanistan, much to their regret. The only real thing accomplished by that invasion was to create a state of jihad in the Muslim world.

After World War I was finally over, Britain and France divided the Arabic Middle East in areas that best served their interests. They too were eventually forced to leave. Both Arabs and Israelis alike did not tolerate their presence.

Perhaps the Trump administration’s view of the future lies in a different area, which does not include large-scale investment in the Middle East, but support for our allies and assurance that the United States will continue that support, which seems to be happening now.

Or, perhaps the Trump administration’s view of the future lies in yet a different area, which is the area of modern related technologies that include cyber warfare and the control of earth’s atmosphere and outer space. It is quite possible that control of satellites in space may influence any future ground warfare and may even prevent war. 

We simply do not know what the human mind can create to send into space. Questions about the region of the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space require reasonable answers from reasonable authorities, and politics should not dominate. We are locked into the computer age and our communications, information sources and record keeping are dependent on free access to space. These technologies must be protected.

Ronald Solan

Lakeville

 

Some thoughts on HVRHS PSAT scores

Patrick Sullivan reports in last week’s issue (“Vaping and the ‘Game’ of Test Taking at HVRHS”) that 72 percent of the Housatonic Valley Regional High School (HVRHS) students taking the Preliminary SAT met the state benchmark of 460 on the reading and writing portion of the test and 39 percent met the math benchmark of 510. Twenty-eight percent met neither benchmark, and 39 percent met both.

Decades out of school, and with college-age grandchildren, I was curious to put these numbers in perspective. It appears that meeting the combined state benchmark score of 970 puts one in the 34th percentile of the test takers – meaning they did equally as well or better than 34 percent of those taking the test. Among those who exceeded the benchmarks, there were undoubtedly some who placed in the very top percentiles. But should we be concerned that a substantial number were unable to make it above the bottom third of the test takers?

Granted this was the Preliminary SAT with time for improvement. For example, a score of 1060 (just 90 points more than the benchmarks) advances one to the 50th percentile, while achieving 1200 raises you to a lofty 75th percentile, showing how a relatively small point increase can have a big effect. (Of course, the students will tell me: “Easier said than done, old man”.)

The U.S. News high school ranking website provided some other interesting statistics: HVRHS, with a reported 10:1 student teacher ratio, has a 36 percent math and 75 percent reading proficiency rating, and a college readiness rating of 8.6 percent. Looking for comparison at another Connecticut high school, rated in the top 15 in the state, which has a student/teacher ratio of 15:1, 61 percent of students are rated math proficient and 82 percent reading proficient, and the college readiness score was 60 percent.

I have no idea how “proficiency” and “college readiness” are determined for these purposes, and taking demographics and other factors into account can render bare statistical comparisons such as these less useful. I also don’t know what goes into arriving at what seem to be relatively low state benchmarks.

Tom Barrett

West Cornwall

 

State should deny Health Quest consolidation

At the Dec. 4, 2018, public hearing in Danbury concerning the proposed affiliation of Western Connecticut Health Network, Inc. (WCHN) and Health Quest Systems, Inc. (HQ), I recently testified as the vice-president of The Community Association to Save Sharon Hospital, Inc. (CASSH).

HQ and Sharon Hospital (SH) have not honored several of Connecticut’s Orders/Stipulations to HQ which were part of their agreement when the state approved their purchase of SH in 2018. Commitments made by SH and HQ have not been honored. The agreement required that:

• The Local Sharon Hospital Board of Directors represent the community. Unfortunately, this hasn’t worked because this local board hasn’t met with or related to the community and has kept a completely silent profile — this must be changed!

• SH and HQ should work with the Foundation for Community Health (FCH), which provided the majority of the purchase funds for HQ’s purchase of Sharon Hospital. At the hearing, the Foundation’s Executive Director provided compelling testimony regarding HQ’s failure to live up to several of the key terms of their contractual agreement. The Foundation has formally notified HQ that it is in “material breach of the Grant Agreement entered into as part of its acquisition of Sharon Hospital.”

• HQ has to maintain current hospital services for a minimum of three years.  However, during this past summer, HQ announced that they intended to close SH’s maternity unit because they couldn’t staff the unit with OBGYN physicians despite their “emphatically stated strength” in physician recruitment. This led to numerous public protests and letters by community residents and was a major issue raised at the Dec. 4 hearing.

Furthermore, neither HQ or WCHN has shown any clear public need or economic reason for this affiliation or merger. At the public hearing, both chief executive officers, of HQ and WCHN, talked about generalized purchasing savings and the ability to access a greater number of doctors.  There was no specific evidence offered. 

The affiliation is anti-competitive and anti-consumer. Sixteen years ago, there were 31 independent hospitals in Connecticut — today there are fewer than 10 and several major hospital chains. The state of Connecticut has allowed too many health oligopolies to form and this has not benefited consumers. 

Instead, prices have increased and consumer choices have decreased. This proposed affiliation is just more of a consolidation trend or “roll-up,” as hospital chains try to gain dominant market and/or geographical position as well as to exclude others. In a Nov. 14 New York Times article, a study showed that mergers have successfully “banished competition and raised prices for hospital admissions in most cases, according to an examination of 25 metropolitan areas” including Connecticut. Mergers have been causing escalating health care costs.

As we have seen, HQ’s failure to comply with its agreement with Connecticut and the FCH sends a loud signal to the community that HQ’s promises and commitments can’t be trusted and we urge the State’s Office of Healthcare Strategy not to approve this affiliation.

Victor Germack

The Community Association 

to Save Sharon Hospital

Salisbury

 

Hope in the new year?

It would make me seem foolish

Said the man who is ghoulish

I would make a good general

Said the head of the federal

The institution awaits

Put him in, close the gates

Then let us return again

To a time when all was sane

Hopefully in nineteen

We will improve the scene.

Michael C. Kahler

Lakeville