Commonwealth Journal

Letters

January 26, 2012

Kentucky children need expanded preschool

Gov. Beshear issues open letter to CJ readers

Somerset — To understand why my proposed budget expands access to preschool to 4,000 more Kentucky 4 year olds, it helps to imagine two kindergarten classes arriving for the first day of school.

In one class, the kids are bright-eyed and healthy. They know the alphabet, their numbers, and a little rudimentary math (think basic addition and subtraction). They can even read a little bit, and are able hold a conversation with adults. In short, they’re confident, curious, creative and energetic. They want to learn.

In the other class, the kids are just the opposite. Several have health problems, like tooth aches, asthma and lingering sickness caused by poor nutrition. They’ve never been read to, don’t know either their letters or numbers and can’t spell their names. They’re too timid to interact with their teachers and classmates, show little interest in anything around them and—to summarize—are completely unengaged.

You don’t have to be a kindergarten teacher to predict the outcome of the year: One class will learn, the other will struggle.

When the students enter first grade the following year, the same gap will exist, only it’ll be larger. In later grades, the gap will be larger still.

Barring aggressive intervention, the kids who began their school careers behind are likely to remain behind the rest of their lives.

That’s why getting our youngest children off to a good start—by laying a foundation of good health and cognitive development that enables them to hit the ground running in kindergarten—has been one of my top priorities as governor.

The seeds of learning are planted early in life. Earlier, even, than kindergarten. Scientists say that some 90 percent of physical brain development occurs from birth to age 3.

That’s why we’ve brought health care coverage to nearly 60,000 children whose families didn’t have any.

We’ve improved dental care for tens of thousands of children by increasing the number of dentists who treat children and bringing treatment straight to our classrooms.

We’re aligning our preschool and early care programs around a common definition of kindergarten readiness, one that guides our care workers in preparing our children mentally, physically, emotionally and socially to do the work involved in kindergarten.

And we’re seeking to expand access to preschool to 4,430 of our at-risk 4-year-olds.

My proposed budget for the 2013-2014 biennium—which I presented to the General Assembly on Jan. 17—includes $15 million to expand eligibility to families whose incomes are 160 percent or less of the federal poverty level, up from the current cut-off of 150 percent.

Bu the end of my term, I intend to set eligibility levels at 200 percent or below, which would help us add 3,920 additional children on top of this year’s gain.

Anecdotally, this makes sense.

Statistically, it’s a wise investment.

The Committee for Economic Development -- a national nonprofit, nonpartisan business-led public policy organization -- produced a report funded by the Pew Charitable Trust that studied the benefits of early childhood education. The report found that kids who had access to high-quality preschool were less likely to drop out of school, less likely to commit crimes, earned higher incomes and were healthier.

Consequently, experts say that every dollar spent on preschool programs carries a return on investment that ranges from $2 to $17.

The formula is simple—we can invest in our children early, or we can pay substantially higher costs later for things like remedial school work, basic job training, expanded welfare and prison costs.

If we don’t give kids the best possible start to their education, the bill comes due again, again and again.

Our people—especially our children—are Kentucky’s greatest resource.

To bring transformational change to our state, we must cultivate that resource by making substantial investments in our intellectual infrastructure.

Even in the most wretched financial times, there are certain investments that we cannot ignore.

But this is more than a financial argument. It’s also a moral one.

We owe all of our children—whether they live in our inner cities or our mountain hollows, our suburbs or our farms ­-- a chance at a promising and productive life.

And that process starts early.

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  • When the parties are over, who will pick up the pieces?

    The City of Somerset recently voted to sell alcohol by drink and through store outlets. We believe that a number of city management members were quite pleased by this outcome by the support this vote received prior to that election. It means that the city will receive a boost in tax revenue, a big boost that will aid the city's financial picture greatly.
    A number of other Somerset citizens lament that vote because they have a number of realistic concerns regarding the consequences of that monumental decision. They are afraid, with reason, that the incidence of alcohol addiction will increase in proportion to the amount of alcohol consumed.We tend to share those concerns. Accidents, auto crashes, addiction related illnesses and social dysfunction related to alcohol will, by its nature increase.
    This vote comes at a time wherein methamphetamine and other drug addiction continues to soar. It seems that every issue of your paper carries stories about drug related violence, crimes, assaults and felonies of all description. How do you think the addition of an increasing alcoholism population will effect those numbers and this community? I am sure that the members of Somerset City management have considered that question and are seeking responsible solutions.
    We would like to suggest one: Help give Somerset something she has needed for decades, an effective and viable alcohol/drug treatment program. It is very doable and would prove to be very cost effective within a short period of time. We have all been misdirected to believe that we need to wage a "war on drugs" except that wars don't often have winners and America is far from winning the one we've been involved with since President Reagan declared it.
    Alcoholism and drug addiction are identical as disease entities, they share the same symptoms, pathology and, sadly, the same prospects of morbidity. On the positive side, they respond favorably to specific treatment.
    Localities where addiction was viewed realistically and treated effectively report high recovery rates and significant cost savings. The airline industry stated, in 1979 that they realized that they received $15 back for every dollar invested in employee addiction treatment. Sending addicts to prison is far more costly than sending them to treatment. Treatment works.
    I do not know what the projected sales of alcohol by the drink is, the city managers do, I'll bet. Well, if the city levied a 5-cent tax on each ounce of distilled alcohol, beer serving, and 4 1/2 oz. glass of wine, they would be able to fund a freestanding residential as well as an intense outpatient facility that would serve some 1,300 Somerset persons including their family members a year. Other funding would come from self pay, insurance, state and federal formula funds and court referrals.
    If readers of this letter care to discuss this issue further we give the editor of this newspaper permission to share our e-mail addresses to interested parties.
    We thank you for publishing this letter.

    Delbert Dyar
    Bronston, KY. 42518
    enidel@live.com

    Alden R. Phelps
    Bronston, KY. 42518
    adlenrphelps@newwavecomm.net

    August 30, 2012

  • '... Salt in the Wound'

    Dear Editor:
    As a Christian, local pastor and one who worked very hard with K.I.D.S. of Somerset in the recent local option election, I would like to express my disgust with the distasteful cartoons on your editorial page in the June 29 issue of the Commonwealth Journal.
    When the results of the local option election were announced on June 26 both sides of the issue were represented at the courthouse. I was pleased with how civilized both sides were in their reaction to the outcome. David Carr and I stood with Pastor Ed Amundson, spokesperson for K.I.D.S., as he was interviewed by CJ reporter Chris Harris.
    Bro. Amundson was very conciliatory in his response to all questions.
    In conversation with Mr. Harris after the interview Bro. Amundson was very careful to make sure there were no hard feelings remaining from the election in which passions ran very high on both sides of the issue.
    We had said we would and we did accept the result of a fair democratic process. My FB posts that night and the following day thanked those with whom I had labored in the process. I stated that I would pastor in a new Somerset with the same passion I have had since I came to Somerset almost 16 years ago. The city of Somerset had spoken loudly and I accepted the result.
    Mr. Weddle with Progress Somerset has been very gracious in his comments. As I stated earlier when the result was announced both sides conducted themselves in a very civil manner. The election was over so let’s move on. Then the editorial board of the CJ decides to rub a little salt in the wound.
    On Friday as I read the editorial page I found this very distasteful cartoon with the heading “Caution ‘Wet’
    Paint.” I must assume by this they are ready to paint the town, a term that I, in my mind, associate with drunken revelry. The first cartoon made light of the fact that we deemed the consequences of this vote serious enough that we would pray about it. The second cartoon seemed to insinuate that the only way we could handle defeat is to drown our sorrows in a very dry martini.
    Why would the CJ, which should have had a primarily journalistic interest in the Local Option Election, be taking a victory lap?
    Why belittle a group of people who simply had strong reservations about the benefit of legalized alcohol sales?
    Why make light of people who believe in prayer and of the God to whom they pray?
    What is the purpose?
    Does the CJ have more interest in stirring the caldron of division in our community than being responsible and fair reporters of the events that affect the everyday lives of all of our citizens?
    Could it be that the CJ has cast off the restraint of journalistic integrity and objectivity to we are not just happy to report the results but we are also happy with the results?
    By this very action the CJ has said that people who believe in God, people who pray and people who were against the legalization of alcohol in Somerset are worthy only of our ridicule and nothing more.
    It is very true that we, who were on the No side, were soundly defeated and I tip, not my glass, but my hat to you on the other side of the argument for the effectiveness of your campaign.
    To the CJ I say if your actions with these distasteful cartoons are a reflection of your excitement about the final tally or an attempt to make those of us on the No side irrelevant, I leave you with this: We are still here, not just sober and praying, but soberly praying, for the city we love and call home. 2,167 Yes, 1,464 No is the reality of June 26, but only history can reveal the true winners and losers on that day.
    Thank you,
    Johnny M. Dunbar
    Somerset, KY 42502

    July 19, 2012

  • Group opposed to alcohol at Eagle’s Nest

    Dear Editor:
    K.I.D.S. (Keep It Dry and Safe) of Somerset and Pulaski County is opposed to the sale of alcohol at the Eagle’s Nest Golf Course in the Caney Fork Precinct of Pulaski County, Ky.

    March 9, 2012

  • The Perils of Alcohol

    Dear Editor:
    The Feb. 1, 2012, front page news of the Commonwealth Journal, read in big, bold letters, ALCOHOL at Eagle’s Nest.

    February 9, 2012

  • Reenactment Poorly Planned

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    I am a living historian and travel from Florida to Virginia taking part in approximately 30 events per year; thus, I do know something of which I speak.

    February 9, 2012

  • Rockcastle Hospital responds to article

    Dear Editor:
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    February 6, 2012

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