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I'll Take My Medicine Socialized
David Walters is absolutely right ("The Social Contract," Jan. 26). The medical insurance industry has hijacked our economy, and to survive, we must responsibly socialize medicine in the United States.

Medicine has been wrested from American doctors by the insurance industry. The sequence of tests a doctor can use to diagnose a patient is now prescribed by the insurance company. If the insurer's diagnostic procedure is inadequate or reveals nothing, the person is sent home, still ailing, without diagnosis but with new debt. It is a grave conflict of interest to allow the insurance company to regulate the medical diagnostic process. The natural results are higher costs and compromised health care.

It is time we calmly take insurance companies out of the medical loop, and bring health care prices back to reality. Yes, thousands of insurance staff will need new jobs, but that pressure valve must be released before the boiler blows up. Ideally, former insurance employees will find work where they can add value to something instead of feeding off the productivity of others.

We need to socialize medicine, but a half-baked government plan won't solve the problem. There is no need to reinvent socialized medicine. We should learn from the European systems that are working, come up with a plan, and implement it within 10 years. If our main objections to socialized medicine stem from fears that our government will bungle it or scam us worse than the private sector, then we have identified a bigger problem.

— Milton Gross, Charlotte

CMS "Solution" Horrifying
As classroom teachers, many of us find the proposed solutions for improving high school performance in Charlotte-Mecklenburg horrifying ("Teach In Low Performing Schools? We Don't Think So," by Tara Servatius, Feb. 2). The suggestion that "good" teachers will be taken from their current settings and transferred to lower-performing schools is insulting on several levels.

First, it discredits those hard-working teachers at the low-performing schools who are spending much time and effort on working to improve student achievement.

It suggests that teachers who are willing to move from other schools to the low-performance schools, deserve more pay because of their willingness to move. What about the people who were at those struggling schools in the first place who choose to stay?

Second, this involuntary transfer suggests that teachers who have chosen, for a variety of reasons, not to pursue National Board Certification, are inferior teachers. While many of the high quality teachers we have in this system do have National Board Certification, there are still many other highly qualified and successful teachers who are not certified.

What will determine who is and who isn't qualified? National Board Certification? Master and/or doctorate degrees? Years of classroom experience? High end-of-course scores? After the definition of "quality" is answered, then we have to ask how reassignments will be made. Will the process be a sweeping, across-the-board, indiscriminate gesture, or will downtown administrators make selections from a few select schools?

Then, as the shuffling begins, does it become a case of "out with the old and in with the new"? What becomes of the displaced teachers from the low-performing schools? (Notice that we aren't calling them "unqualified" because we, in the classroom, know differently.)

We are angered that some of our colleagues are being belittled because of where they teach. At what point are students and parents going to be forced to accept personal responsibility? When are school officials going to stop expecting teachers to shoulder all of the blame?

We are also concerned that the restructuring and the bonus incentives will cause divisiveness among faculties. (Also, is this bonus based on a simple transfer and a three-year commitment or is it tied to EOC scores?) The very act of reassigning suggests that administrative officials see some teachers as quality and some as not. Does this not make the public wonder why inept teachers would be hired in the first place?

While we educators very much agree that we must take action to help the underachieving, it is shortsighted not to realize that mandatory reassignments will mean a loss of teachers to the system and even the profession. In an often thankless job with an inadequate salary, it seems that our leaders would be working toward attracting and keeping quality personnel.

— Maria Rogers, Joyce Godwin, Marcia Smith, Beth Loxton, Janee P. Blue, Becky Blackmon, Kimberly Warr, Sharon Williamson, Mary McDuffie, Deana Miller, Susan Putnam, Barbara Everitt, Susan Hopkins, Susan Evans, Laura L. Michael

Marijuana As Medicine
Amen, Kirk ("The Drug War and Prohibition," Letter to the Editor, Feb. 2). When will the lessons of Prohibition be learned? As a victim of the laws against the medical use of marijuana I would ask that all citizens support HJR 1038, a bill in the NC General Assembly that would allow the medical use of marijuana. Too late for me but perhaps others will not have to suffer as I have. Please let your legislators know how important this is. Also let them know that those who have already suffered deserve to have their rights restored.

— RR Gregg, Marshville, NC

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