Wednesday, August 27, 2014

No Breakthroughs at Health Care Summit

March 25, 2010 by cmccabe  
Filed under Article by Topic, Health Care Reform

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By Tim Walker

President Obama hosted a bipartisan health care summit today to loosen the logjam in Congress that has held up passage of comprehensive health care reform. For more than seven hours, the president, members of his cabinet, and about 40 members of the House and Senate sparred over costs containment, insurance reforms, deficit reduction, and health care coverage.

But after the marathon session ended, it was clear that any version of the comprehensive health reform bill favored by the administration was not going to win over Republicans in attendance. Reform proponents are urging the president and Congress to move forward and complete the process.

“After more than 50 years and seven presidents,” said National Association President Dennis Van Roekel “we’re closer than we’ve ever been to making the dream of health insurance reform a reality and this is not an opportunity we can afford to squander.”

Richard Kirsch of the Health Care for America Now coalition (NEA is a member) agreed.

“It’s now time for the President and Democrats to finalize a bill with or without their Republican colleagues,” said Kirsch after the summit, “and pass legislation that works for us – not the insurance companies – and gives us all good health care we can afford.”

At the summit, Democrats repeatedly pushed back against three key Republicans demands: scrap the bills already passed by the House and Senate, start over, and pass more incrementalist measures. President Obama made it clear that starting from scratch, after spending almost one year on this effort, made no sense and that a comprehensive bill would be more effective in tackling the problems that ail the system.

Despite finding areas of general agreement, the two parties clashed over most issues. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) argued that the Democrat’s reform plan would raise insurance costs for consumers – a longstanding GOP talking point that has been widely discredited.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi defended regulations on the insurance industry, saying the American people support an end to discrimination on the basis of preexisting conditions.

“The insurance industry, left to its own devices, has behaved shamefully.”

President Obama conceded that the two political parties’ philosophical differences might be insurmountable.

“I don’t know that these gaps can be bridged,” he said.

At the close of the marathon session, however, the president agreed to consider some of the Republican proposals, but he said if the GOP still refused to support the Democratic approach, he and party leaders in Congress will push ahead without them.

The American people just want Congress finish the job, said Van Roekel.

“It’s difficult to imagine that a country as great as ours cannot find a way to provide quality, affordable health care to everyone; but politics has a way of thwarting progress.”

“Far too many children in this country are still without critical medical attention. Now is the time to rectify this wrong. There has been enough talk. There has been enough blame and finger pointing. Now is the time for action.”

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One Response to “No Breakthroughs at Health Care Summit”
  1. Site Admin says:

    03/19/10 – Garry

    Well NEA, where do YOU stand? Cut the political crosstalk and give us the bottom line. Is the NEA for teachers or for the president that supports firing teachers? Hate to see my dues going to fair share next year because can’t battle a president on this issue.

    03/17/10 – dls

    Didn’t NEA support O’Bama? Should we rethink that in the upcoming elections?

    03/14/10 – Brian

    This is union-busting pure and simple. And President Obama supports it. Since this move is capricious and ignorant, where do we draw the line in the sand?

    03/13/10 – Cabellero69

    Education is a process and key actors in the process are the students and their parents. The tests are taken by the students; the parents are responsible for instilling values and fostering attitudes in their children. Teachers can influence but cannot control the motivation, effort, and behavior of the students. We must do our part, but we do not deserve the lion’s share of the credit for success and we definitely do not deserve the full brunt of the blame for deficiencies. This type of action is scapegoating purely and simply.

    03/13/10 – debjars

    Well said, Millerbug, 3/5/10…I totally agree with you!

    03/07/10 – PA Teacher

    Why is it that teachers are being blamed for the failures of our society. Parents use to work with teachers to help students succeed. Now parents are too busy making ends meat to help their child with school work. The value and appreciation of an education is gone from our society. We need to focus on our values here instead of what other countries are doing in school.

    03/07/10 – Teach394

    One of the things that would truly help is to somehow keep the same “want and desire” that elementary students come to school with. It starts to wane in the later elementary years and in most cases is gone by middle school.

    03/06/10 – KBurgess

    In this beleagered Rhode Island school 65% of its students speak English as a second language, and 96% receive free or reduced lunch. How does this play into test scores, do you suppose? Why not leave education to the educators to work on innovative solutions? This was already underway. Why place so much emphasis on standard test scores? I hope NEA and AFT will provide much more than this forum and a petition to support these teachers.

    03/06/10 – Oscarmom

    Sounds like ‘Pro-child’ has a whole lot of issues that can’t be cured by most common teachers or educational settings. Can’t fix stupid attitudes. Maybe it was a miserable experience because you can’t cope with others. You probably needed a psych ward to help you cope or psychotherapy to have an open mind.

    03/06/10 – Jody S.

    I wonder if the people in charge visited the classrooms. Did they discuss ways to improve the scores or just look at the scores and then fire the front line in the education system?
    03/19/10 – Garry

    Well NEA, where do YOU stand? Cut the political crosstalk and give us the bottom line. Is the NEA for teachers or for the president that supports firing teachers? Hate to see my dues going to fair share next year because can’t battle a president on this issue.

    03/17/10 – dls

    Didn’t NEA support O’Bama? Should we rethink that in the upcoming elections?

    03/14/10 – Brian

    This is union-busting pure and simple. And President Obama supports it. Since this move is capricious and ignorant, where do we draw the line in the sand?

    03/13/10 – Cabellero69

    Education is a process and key actors in the process are the students and their parents. The tests are taken by the students; the parents are responsible for instilling values and fostering attitudes in their children. Teachers can influence but cannot control the motivation, effort, and behavior of the students. We must do our part, but we do not deserve the lion’s share of the credit for success and we definitely do not deserve the full brunt of the blame for deficiencies. This type of action is scapegoating purely and simply.

    03/13/10 – debjars

    Well said, Millerbug, 3/5/10…I totally agree with you!

    03/07/10 – PA Teacher

    Why is it that teachers are being blamed for the failures of our society. Parents use to work with teachers to help students succeed. Now parents are too busy making ends meat to help their child with school work. The value and appreciation of an education is gone from our society. We need to focus on our values here instead of what other countries are doing in school.

    03/07/10 – Teach394

    One of the things that would truly help is to somehow keep the same “want and desire” that elementary students come to school with. It starts to wane in the later elementary years and in most cases is gone by middle school.

    03/06/10 – KBurgess

    In this beleagered Rhode Island school 65% of its students speak English as a second language, and 96% receive free or reduced lunch. How does this play into test scores, do you suppose? Why not leave education to the educators to work on innovative solutions? This was already underway. Why place so much emphasis on standard test scores? I hope NEA and AFT will provide much more than this forum and a petition to support these teachers.

    03/06/10 – Oscarmom

    Sounds like ‘Pro-child’ has a whole lot of issues that can’t be cured by most common teachers or educational settings. Can’t fix stupid attitudes. Maybe it was a miserable experience because you can’t cope with others. You probably needed a psych ward to help you cope or psychotherapy to have an open mind.

    03/06/10 – Jody S.

    I wonder if the people in charge visited the classrooms. Did they discuss ways to improve the scores or just look at the scores and then fire the front line in the education system?

    03/05/10 – Bev J_r_u_d

    The true issue is not the teachers. Look at the long history of Central Falls and see how the population has changed. I lived there most of my life – my brother and many friends received a wonderful education at CF high school. The real problem is when students who do not speak English or have limited English skills are required to take the state test in English. This is the bottom line. This could happen in any city in any state. Perhaps an answer would be to prepare state tests in students’ native language – then re-evaluate the problem.

    03/05/10 – Millerbug

    This decision puts no responsibility on the students, parents, administration or school board for the failings of this high school. Yes, there are bad teachers, but administrative and parental support are key to a successful school! It is absolutely horrible what has been done here. They are using the teachers as scapegoats…let’s see if they do any better with a new staff. Only with support from the parents and administration will they succeed…with or without new teachers!! Why haven’t the failing banks and creditors all been fired for putting us into a financial meltdown?

    03/04/10 – 1 school clean not enough

    Firing the staff at one underperforming school is a good start. Lets do 100 underperforming schools tomarrow

    03/04/10 – Pro-Child

    I wonder what kind of teacher would stay at a failing instituation year after year not making any impact.

    03/04/10 – Pro-Child

    I wonder if the parents had been given a voucher how many would choose to stay in that school.

    03/04/10 – Brad from Wisconsin

    The state of Wisconsin learned a similar lesson 36 years ago with a school district by the name of Hortonville. The mass firing of 84 staff members at Hortonville provided a dramatic example of how a flawed law led to an abuse of power by an unreasonable school board. We can honor the sacrifices of our union brothers and sisters by organizing for a system that respects teachers, education support employees, and their unions. Some of the previous posts point fingers at the union or at “lazy teachers”, but we all know what this really is: a poor decision, made by the superintendent and the school board of Central Falls High School, at the expense of good teachers and ultimately the students at Central Falls High School. It is truly a sad day in America, when we refuse to learn from the mistakes in our own history.

    03/04/10 – Garry

    NEA support those that employ you, your members. Any plan proposed that could end in a complete staff being fired is contrary to what you, as spokespersons for our profession, have been elected to do.

    03/04/10 – Diane 3/4/10

    Let’s not blame the teachers for everything. It takes two to tango.

    03/04/10 – Pro-Child

    Public Education was a miserable expierience for me. Most of my teachers really were incompotent and did not care. I sure hope we get vouchers, or charters or merit pay. Some way to get rid of the crummy teachers and the lefty policies.

    03/04/10 – JMartinez

    The parents need to be held accountable to a certain extent too. Without their backing on certain issues, there is only so much teachers and support staff can do.
    03/04/10 – Ron Russell

    For God’s sake, how absurd. Yes, there are bad teachers there and everywhere, but the fundamental problem is the ever-increasing retardation of the American public. How rare it is that parents or students possess respect for education or teachers. Today ignorance is often a badge of honor among students, and their parents are apathetic. Such an illogical reaction by this board just suppports this point. If a fire is too immense for a fire department to battle and the building burns to the ground, do you fire all the fire fighters for incompetence? Should we fire all of our millitary in Iraq because they have been battling for years and the problem remains unsolved?

    03/04/10 – Deborah

    I agree with several of the comments: let’s look at adequate funding, art’s and science as a part of a real education, go after and VALUE our teachers…and recognize the role of the parents and the community in effective education. We won’t go anywhere with a narrow-minded, hypocritical Central Falls approach.

    03/04/10 – Jacqueline

    I am considered an excellent teacher, but have worked twice in inner city situations. The whole community needs help, not just the professionally trained teachers.

    03/04/10 – Debbie inLA

    If this can happen in Rhode Island, it can happen anywhere. Politicians fail to realize that they hired the teachers whom they now blame. Maybe the school board should all be fired for ineffectiveness and incompetence.

    03/03/10 – Robert Prola

    You will not improve education through heavy handed tactics. Instead, try funding education adequately, changing our over reliance on test scores, reintroducing art, science and history to the classroom and aggressive teacher recruitment/retention programs. Lets empower teachers instead of scapegoating them.

    03/03/10 – Keith

    The prisoners at Gitmo will have more right to redress than these fired teachers. Sad

    03/03/10 – M. Smith

    Although, I am not certain of the many details that lead up to this defeating action against the teachers of Central Falls. But, in the few years that I have taught, which is 33, I have not witness any child not progressing when the parent, the child, the teacher and the administrators work together on the child’s behalf for success. I would like to ask, “What was the responsibility of the parents, the chilren, and the administrators at Central Falls?”

    03/03/10 – SArah

    WE NEED A NATIONAL WALK OUT DAY TO SUPPORT OUR FELLOW TEACHERS

    03/03/10 – Bill

    If President Obama refuses to follow his doctor’s direction to quit smoking and then fails part of his medical exam, will the President and Arnie Duncan fire the doctor?

    03/03/10 – Sabrina

    I think this is very unfair!
    03/03/10 – Layne

    I am sure the teachers at this school are very dedicated professionals. We must not let this continue. This is seriously disappointing.

    03/03/10 – debbie

    Unbelievable! I am sure the teachers at this school are very dedicated professionals. We must not let this continue.

    03/03/10 – Jay

    I am shocked this is allowed to happen in our country. Someone needs to put a stop to this right now. Unbelievable.

    03/03/10 – Cynthia Ostermick

    Shame on a government that does not support its people….

    03/03/10 – Barbara

    The government is making it easier at so many levels for the parents to not be accountable for their children

    03/03/10 – Greg Ferraro

    With actions like this, what qualified teacher will stay at a struggling school? What this is going to encourage, are teachers leaving schools that really need help, to schools that have the most perfect conditions. If all teachers are graded on is their students performance on a test, let me flip this around. Is a less qualified teacher at a “great” school, safe? and a highly qualified teacher at a struggling school is on the chopping block? Also, we as a union should not automatically endorse a politcal party just because they have a certain “letter” next to their name, we should make them earn our votes. I didn’t like “No Child Left Behind,” but “Race To the Top” doesn’t look much better!!

    03/03/10 – Ed Johnsen

    It is ridiculous that things have come to this point. It is fairly obvious that the school is not troubled soley because of the teachers, but because of the social conditions of Central Falls. Be that as it may, the firings can be laid squarely at the feet of the union leadership. They were asked to accept some very reasonable reform conditions (except for the lunch thing), but refused to make any sort of reasonable counter offer or seriously negotiate. They were then told EXACTLY what would happen if they did not acquiesce. They still refused in an obstinate display of blinkered thinking. The leadership should be fired for allowing things to get to this point- not only because of the horrible hardship imposed upon the fired teachers, but because of the greater implications for teachers across the country. They’ve now filed a legal complaint about the actions. No matter the outcome of the suit, teachers lose. If the union prevails, teacher’s public image takes another massive hit- the public vitriol will be frightening. If they lose, it opens the door for more such actions in other districts. At this point they need to go to the superintendant on bended knee and ask to accept her conditions. I note that there are a number of comments regarding teacher compensation. Most Central Falls teachers are on top step in the highest paid district in RI- which means they make about $75,000. I think you’d have a hard time convincing anyone that isn’t fair compensation.

    03/03/10 – BLH

    Standardize the standards across the states; the same standards for each grade level in all 50 states. Standardize the test; Give the exact same test for each grade level in all states… Level the playing field and quit punishing states with higher standards and giving accolades to those who set the bar low.

    03/02/10 – E T

    I learned when I first became a parent that my first responsibility to my children was to teach them to learn. That is, what is respect and good manners. Lawmakers are quick to make policy in education without considering the facts. No child left behind act was a train heading in the wrong direction. This administration’s policy has just added an engine to the rear. If teachers were the only variable that determine the sucess of lawmakers why don’t they consider raising teachers salary. That might inspire teachers to keep their students in class 24 hrs. 7 days a week.

    03/02/10 – Jon

    I certainly don’t understand all the factors involved in this decision, there isn’t enough information available to make a sound judgment. However, I don’t think I would try to be rehired. I would start looking for a job elsewhere, and resign as soon as possible. If the teachers truly are trying to improve what they are doing, why would they want to stay? After such a resounding vote of no confidence, I would move on. I think with the school board’s decision to create a hostile working environment combined with the school’s bad reputation, it would be difficult to replace the teachers. I’m sure there will be some very dedicated teachers, who really do care for their students and want to help them succeed, that will try to stay. More power to them.
    03/02/10 – Kim

    Well I guess I will be the one to give some “real” straight talk here. Many of you think this is wrong while you are probably one of the lazy teachers that we have in classrooms today. You know as well as I do that some teachers, maybe even your friend who is teaching next door to you, slack when it comes to real teaching now days.You can rant and rave about the president all you please but that is what people do when they don’t do their job. Yes, the students are the ones who will suffer because of lazy, spoiled, too confortable in their position, don’t want to expand their learning and adhere to professional development…teachers! Get real about your expectations of the president. I would like to see some of your gains during your first year.

    03/02/10 – mary ann

    mass firing is not right.

    03/02/10 – Mary

    I will never vote for Barack Obama again. What a disappointment.

    03/02/10 – fern

    It is a shame that teachers and not parents are held accountable to the importance of being in school and doing your best.

    03/02/10 – 3/2/10 Carol

    This is outrageous and should be stopped now.

    03/02/10 – JJ

    Parents are the main ingredient that is missing in the student’s life character…values…honesty…work ethic…manners….behavior..respect….and more support from parents to teachers and from superintendents, principals, society. Have the politicians and ones being so judgemental spend a week or month actually trying to teach with a student that is disruptive, rude, etc when the school refuses to suspend or expell the student because it might look bad or bad for attendance records. People that come in from the outside are horrified to see how our students behave. THAT is why improvement cannot happen. You must have discipline and support from all before academics will EVER improve!!!!

    03/02/10 – Dennis

    Teachers need to be accountable for their teaching methods…but the answer is not firing 100% of teachers…if the small percent of teachers will not improve themselves, maybe they do need to be fired, but after they are given ample time to improve their skills…I am appalled at Obama and will likely not vote for him again…and why wasn’t the superintendent fired; she is the one who kept the principals in prior years…and why isn’t the school board members resigning due to their ineffectiveness; maybe it comes down to saving money?

    03/02/10 – Judy

    Just watched all the pundits on TV blame teachers and teacher unions for all the ills in education. Union leaders must appear on TV and control the message. Put teachers out there; show they are the long untiring saviors of youth, not the incompetent villians the press makes them out to be. Take on the charter and private schools and show how they are cherry picking and not that successful in many cases. Don’t let this continue. Get other unions involved. No union contract is safe if this continues.

    03/02/10 – Mary

    I am extremely disappointed in President Obama I not only voted for him, I went to caucuses and campaigned on his behalf. It was the first and last time I will do so. I feel so betrayed. I am a teacher who works in a high poverty district. Our district was improving dramatically. We even received state and national recognition for our progress. The administration changed and out went the very programs that were responsible for the improvements. Now we are failing to make AYP and our district is considering applying for race to the top money. If we had stayed on course it would not be necessary. Instead I can see myself ending up like the Rode Island teachers, thanks to incompetent administrators. I am saddened to realize that a Democratic President is responsible for this mess.

    03/02/10 – Kevin

    Am I missing something here? From what I understand NONE of these teachers had unsatisfactory evaluations. When is the general public going to realize–there has to be PARENT ACCOUNTABILITY, proper and consitent student discipline, adequate teaching materials/supplies/facilities/technology, etc. You could have the top 80 teachers in the world teach in C.F.and I am sure the results would not be much different from what they are now. Poverty, language barriers, student ability, etc. obviously have an impact on test scores.
    03/02/10 – Stephanei King

    This mass fireing is outrageous.

    03/02/10 – Celestine

    We must always stay mindful of the students not the politics! The learning institution should always be one of collaboration not isolation of every staff, solely blaming them for the schools failure !

    03/02/10 – Sam

    Arne Duncan’s contempt for public school teachers mirrors that of the President. As public school teachers our support for this administration appears to be a profound error.

    03/01/10 – Sam Talarico

    This is appalling and it must not stand.

    03/01/10 – dennis

    a petition? that’s all nea/aft could come up with? ridiculous…what happened in rhode island is outrageous! where’s the call for an immediate sick out? where’s the call for the superintendent’s resignation? where’s the rallies/marches for the board of ed’s ouster? shame on these unions for letting this happen!!

    03/01/10 – Sue

    A lot of these students would have a much better chance at success if their parents made decent wages and had access to good healthcare. It’s time to end this war on the mmiddle class!

    03/01/10 – Kathy Williams

    Why must the options be punitive? During the campaign, Sen. Obama criticized the Bush administation’s NCLB for being punitive and promised to support public education. As an educator I feel betrayed. The mass firing is much worst than anything that happened under George Bush. That school was making progress. Now the children will suffer. Kathy

    03/01/10 – Don

    Dear Mr. President, Looking at the last few elections, your support numbers have not turned out when it is time to vote. I did work in the Obama local office nights and weekends. Hopfuly, you don’t want the Educators to vote with their feet as well. Support is not a one way street!

    03/01/10 – Margaret

    Obviously the school board lacks vision. They are in no way able to justify firing everyone. This is a poor attempt to fix a mess they have created. A better idea would have been to institute proven methods with successful leaders.

    03/01/10 – Shaerie

    If your superintendent wants to improve student learning, he needs to lower class sizes, pay the teachers more for working so hard, and provide all of the materials that the teachers need to do a good job.
    03/01/10 – 3/01/10 Steve

    This is a classic example of all or nothing thinking. There are many reasons that students fail including social problems, family related stress and economic stress as well as students who choose to be disengaged in their own education. Sometimes, no matter how hard a teacher tries some students choose to avoid learning. The system is broken and seems to be getting worst. Pretty soon school lessons will be so standardized, that our country’s education will be so narrow and limited that we, as a nation, will not be able to meet the challenges of the future. Education should never be “ONE SIZE FITS ALL” and should always be about individual growth.

    03/01/10 – KD

    This is ridiculous! Where is the fairness in keeping the teachers that were doing a good job? What about the teachers evaluations? Did one day they just start to be a poor teacher? Come on!

    03/01/10 – Beth Folcher

    This is the most ludicrous & inane way to “help” these children. They are the real losers in this district!

    03/01/10 – Judy

    I was appalled to see the President out supporting the firing this morning. It is so sad that a Democratic president may be the one to hurt public education worse than any Republican ever has. There has to be respect for the working person. Perhaps the President should work for a couple of weeks in an urban school system to see the real world.

    02/27/10 – fran

    There is not enough information in this article to make an honest judgment about these teachers or the school improvements that were underway.

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